Friday, June 20, 2008

News - 06/20/08...

"Next Avengers" DVD Artwork Revealed

The Marvel Animation Age has posted the DVD cover artwork and press release for the Next Avengers direct-to-video movie coming in September 2008. Artist Josh Middleton has also posted clean images of the cover artwork, including the back cover image, although he notes that he had no involvement in the project other than illustrating the package.

"The Invincible Iron Man" Wins DVD Award, Blu-Ray Release In September

The 2007 direct-to-video The Invincible Iron Man animated movie has won a prestigious award, and will also finally arrive on Blu-Ray in September 2008.

The Invincible Iron Man, the third direct-to-video animated feature from Marvel Entertainment and Lionsgate, has won the DVD Critics Award for Best Direct-To-Video Movie DVD.

The DVD Critics Awards was part of the first day of TransFORMATions: The 7th Annual Home Entertainment Summit, held June 16-17th, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, Calif. TransFORMATions was presented by Home Media Magazine in cooperation with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and the Entertainment Merchants Association. More information on these awards can be found at the Home Media Magazine website.

In related news, The Invincible Iron Man will be released to the Blu-Ray format on September 2nd, 2008. Bonus features for the Blu-Ray release include an alternate opening, an Origin of Iron Man featurette, a first look at Hulk vs Wolverine, and a first look at Hulk vs Thor.

Batmanime! Gotham Knight Mashes Bruce Lee, Memento

The Dark Knight is coming soon, but the straight-to-DVD anime Batman: Gotham Knight is thankfully coming sooner. Feeding Bruce Wayne's superego through the animated filter of Pacific Rim cinema so far looks very sweet indeed, and new pics and news confirm that comics nerds and late adopters alike are probably going to be impressed.

On the nerd front, animated Batphiles should be pleased to know that Kevin Conroy is returning to voice Wayne, as he has for the last couple of decades in various iterations of the mythology. Adam West would probably not be pleased to know that it is Conroy's pipes that have ruled Batman's tech-noir corner of television, proving that an animated Batman is truly a resonant one. For his part, Conroy says he believes the multiple-narrative Gotham Knight movie will resonate more than any other when it hits store shelves July 8.

"It's a really rich experience," promised Conroy. "The artwork in this film is so beautiful. It's like getting six movies in one."

And perhaps as many personas, especially now that anime and Batman have merged after being on a collision course for decades. Bruce Wayne may be voiced by Conroy, but he's also carried the weight of everyone from Michael Keaton to Christian Bale, with probably too many big names in between. But lately in the series The Batman and the new Bale iterations, Bruce Wayne has been more like Bruce Lee. He looks the part in one segment.

But Batman: Gotham Knight is freaking memes in more ways than one. For his Rashomon-like segment "Have I Got a Story For You," History of Violence screenwriter and Batman fanboy Josh Olson sampled Memento's narrative slipstreaming in honor of Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan's crossover film.

"I thought it would be fun telling the story backwards," explained Olson. "You'll notice that each time the villain appears, he seems to be gaining weapons instead of losing them. That was an intentional nod to Chris Nolan's film."

Regardless of its source material, Batman: Gotham Knight is planning for the future and giving the Dark Knight's expanding mythos some interesting twists. From a tasteful decapitation to bare-knuckle brawls and into the BatBot, this East-West détente has enough material to keep fandom occupied for awhile. Gotham Knight screenwriter and Batman regular Greg Rucka just wants them to keep their cool, especially when they bump into something that may make them nervous.

"The great thing about comics fandom," Rucka explains, "is that it's immediate. I write a novel and it'll be a year before people tell me what they think of it. Comics fans react that day."

Plus, in the age of the internet, they have more power and influence than ever. That's a trade-off that the economically sensitive producers have to deal with, one way or another.

"Comics are in many ways like soap operas, in that the fan base rests mostly in the characters," Rucka says. "Consequently, the fans can be prone to hysteria. With the prevalence of the internet, there's been this movement where everyone wants to be an insider, everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants to spread the information as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of times, the information is wrong or horribly incomplete. But these things don't exist without that fan base. They are devoted, and vocal."

Celebrating Superman

From, comes Aaron Andrews' report on the Superman Celebration...

The Superman Celebration kicked off on Thursday June 11th this year and man was it hot! I hadn’t been since 2006 and it seemed hot then, but this year it stayed in the 90s throughout the week.

The attending celebrities were 2-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe Nominee, not to mention Superman and Superman II star Ned Beatty, 'Smallville' star who is also a singer and dancer Allison Mack, and The First Lady of Metropolis and ever radiant Noel Neill. Several Artists and Writers attend this year also – Murphy Anderson, Mike Norton, Michael Eury, Josh Elder, Marc Tyler Nobleman, Lonnie Cruse and Jeffrey Breslaur.

One of the main events this year was the attempt at a Guinness World Record. This was the first attempt of such a record, and the Guinness Corporation set a parameter of at least 100 participants in approved costumes. Any man, woman or child in an approved costume was welcomed and encouraged to appear in Superman Square at the base of the famous 15 foot tall bronze statue located at the heart of Metropolis. 127 people attended in approved costume to set this Superman record!

This year the Official Metropolis Superman was Josh Boultinghouse from Richardson Texas. He was selected by fans and the Superman Celebration Committee. Being a Superman fan himself, Josh has attended the Superman Celebration for many years.

Having 2 kids of my own we spent a lot of time in the 'Smallville' Tent. There were Supersilly games with Superman, a superhero quiz show, a magic show and a scavenger hunt! Between these were Superboy/girl pageants as well as other family friendly entertainment. Meeting Superman was the highlight of our trip for my 5 and 6 year old. My son’s only question to him was “Can you really fly?” Josh was incredibly likable and seemed to enjoy being this year’s Superman. He knelt down and whispered that he could, but had been asked not to while in Metropolis. My son being as amazed as a 5 year old can be ran back to me with his eyes wide and said “Guess what!!! “ then in a whisper “he can really, really fly!” That was one of 2 of my personal highlights of the week.

The second highlight would have to be interviewing the celebrities for C2F! Here is the first part of a full transcript from press event from Friday June 13th interviewing Ned Beatty, Noel Neill and Josh Boultinghouse. Allison Mack was to be there also but her plane had been delayed and she wasn’t able to attend.

Q: to Noel Neill: In the movie 'Hollywoodland' how accurate was the portrayal of George Reeves?

Noel: It was horrible, George was not a womanizer. It made me cry to watch, but I guess the dead can’t sue.

Q: to Noel Neill and Ned Beatty: Have either of you been approached to be on 'Smallville'?

I have not been approached but they know where I live.

Ned: What’s 'Smallville'? [The moderator fills Beatty in on the CW's hit series] “I don’t see Otis going there any time soon.”

Q: to Ned Beatty: You’ve been in movies and TV shows but why do you think after 30 years it always comes back to 'Deliverance'?

Ned: Well that movie was accentually a four part act of what is means to be a man, and I think we did just that. After 30 years that movies IS still being talked about and all that I can say about it is that I am proud to have been part of it.

Q: to Ned Beatty: What if any did being in the 'Superman' films have on your career?

It defiantly paved the road for me to be in bigger films. Although Gene Hackman sort of scared me as he needs to be angry to do what he had to do and it turned out he was angry with me...

The next day, Allison Mack was at the Celebrity Q&A and here are the audience questions and her answers.

She is greeted with loud cheers as she says hello to Beatty and Neill

Q: of the last 3 seasons, which is your favorite hair?

Season 4, easy can wake up and go, I like to stay low maintenance.

Q: my son is a little bit shy; he has a picture and CD

this one of the best parts about this job, you get to share art with other people. Thank you, thank you very much. Beautiful!

Q: Assuming this is the last season of 'Smallville', do you know what you are going to be doing beyond that?

: I have no idea, hopefully making more things. I love what I do and I want to continue doing it. I am totally inspired by all the actors around me. Once I’m done with 'Smallville' I’ll move on to the next job and the next and the next and the next.

Q any chance we’re going to see a 'Smallville' movie?

I don’t think so…

Q: Please?

Hahaha! We’ve got the 'Superman' movies now, and I think that takes care of the story on the big screen, we’ve got it covered on the small.

Tom Hignite’s Home Imaginators

Tom Hignite, the Wisconsin home builder who thinks he’s Walt Disney, is back - in a series of local infomercials which utilize lush character animation created by a team of former Orlando studio animators he hired a few years ago. Since his misguided plans for making 2D animated features went bust, Hignite is back to building houses, using poor flash animation to move his characters, and pretending he’s Uncle Walt in these TV spots. You can read the full story of Hignite’s wacky true-life adventures in this Milwaukee Magazine article.

(thanks cartoonbrew)

Bay to Fox: "Just Look Hot"

MTV talked to Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen star Megan Fox, who says that the sequel is "is 10 times as big, 10 times as many set pieces, explosions, and acrobatic stunts."

She added that "Shia and I make out a little bit; I don't know if anyone wants to see that."

Fox says that they have been reworking the script as it was written fast because of the writers strike, mainly to add character "stuff" for her and Shia amongst the giant robots.

And what is Michael Bay's main directorial input to Megan? "His main note to me is just to look hot; so I try my best."

'Iron Man', 'Smallville' scoop up Teen Choice Award nominations

Comic-based fare scored well in the latest Teen Choice Award nominations, which were released earlier this week.

'Iron Man' and 'Speed Racer' both garnered nods iin the "Choice Movie: Action Adventure" category.

'30 Days of Night' makes a showing in the "Choice Movie: Horror/Thriller".

Mirroring those selections...

Emile Hirsch ('Speed Racer') and Robert Downey Jr. ('Iron Man') are both up for "Choice Movie Actor: Action Adventure".

Similarly Christina Ricci ('Speed Racer') and Gwenyth Paltrow ('Iron Man') are both up for "Choice Movie Actress: Action Adventure".

Josh Hartnett ('30 Days of Night') gets a nod for "Choice Movie Actor: Horror/Thriller

Jeff Bridges ('Iron Man') is up for "Choice Movie: Villain"

On TV...'Smallville' picked up four awards in "Choice TV: Action Adventure", Tom Welling as "Choice TV Actor: Action Adventure", Kristen Kreuk as "Choice TV Actress: Action Adventure" and, of course, Michael Rosenbaum as "Choice TV: Villain".

Voting is open now so vote often!

IDW Asks "What If?" with "All Hail Megatron" #1 on July 9, 2008

On July 9, 2008, IDW will publish All Hail Megatron #1, the first of a 12-part Transformers series that depicts what would happen if the Decepticons succeeded in conquering an Earth without the Autobots to keep them in check. The series will be written by Shane McCarthy and featuring art by Guido Guidi.

WGA Magazine Summer 2008 Issue Looks at Cartoon Writing

The Summer 2008 issue of Written By, the Writers Guild of America magazine, will focus on writing cartoons, with pieces on Matt Groening (who also provided the magazine cover), Brad Bird, and Seth MacFarlane. The Written By website includes an excerpt from "The Unanimated," which looks at scripts of unproduced animated show pilots.

Tink, Burton to Join Walk of Fame

The Walk of Fame Committee of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has announced this year’s list of inductees, which includes an iconic character from the Disney animated classic Peter Pan and the filmmaker behind the acclaimed animated features The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. Tinker Bell and Tim Burton are among 25 public figures from the worlds of film, television, music and radio set to receive their stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame sometime in 2009. These individuals and groups were chosen from hundreds of nominees brought to the committee at a meeting held on June 12.

“There was a significant increase of applications received this year and so many deserving celebrities,” comments Earl Lestz, chairman of the Hollywood Walk of Fame Committee. “Our committee worked diligently to select those stars which would appeal to the masses.”

It’s no coincidence that Disney Home Entertainment is releasing the new CG-animated Tinker Bell movie on DVD and Blu-ray on October 28. A special Collector’s Edition of The Nightmare Before Christmas will also be out on DVD and Blu-ray on August 26.

In the Motion Picture category, Tinker Bell and Burton are joined by Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr., X-Men leader Hugh Jackman and fellow actors Leslie Caron, Cameron Diaz, Charles Durning, Ralph Fiennes, Sir Ben Kingsley and William H. Macy.

Inductees in other categories include Mark Burnett, Felicity Huffman, William Petersen, Kyra Sedgwick, John Stamos, Chuck Lorre, Kenny “Baby Face” Edmonds, The Miracles, RUSH, Doug Morris, Dave Koz, Shakira and the Village People. Harry Shearer, who lends his voice to various characters on The Simpsons, will be honored for his work in radio, along with Bill Handel. Dates have yet to set for these star ceremonies. Updates will be posted at

"Batman: Gotham Knight" Premieres at WizardWorld Chicago on June 28, 2008

Wizard World Chicago will host the world premiere of Batman: Gotham Knight on June 28, 2008. The premiere will be at 7:00 PM (Central) in the 1,500-seat hall within the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Tickets for the event will be distributed starting at 10:00 AM on Saturday, June 28, 2008, at the ticketing area. An encore presentation will be on Sunday, June 29, at 2:00 PM (Central), with seats available on a first-come, first-served basis.

In addition, a Batman: Gotham Knight panel will follow the premiere, where producer Bruce Timm and writers Josh Olson, Brian Azzarello, Greg Rucka and Alan Burnett will be the featured panelists. The five will also be available at a 90-minute autographing session starting at 10:30 AM on Sunday, June 29, 2008.

"Osmosis Jones" production designer dead at 54

Sydney J. Bartholomew Jr., production designer for such films as Warner Bros.' partly animated Osmosis Jones (2001), died Sunday at his Los Angeles home. He was 54.

Also credited as Sidney Jackson Bartholomew Jr., he was the art director for the 1986-90 CBS series Pee-wee's Playhouse. His work on the kids' show earned him a shared Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction/Set Decoration/Scenic Design in 1987.

Bartholomew was born in Tarboro, North Carolina to Jack and Frances Bartholomew on August 5, 1953. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Appalachian State University, where he studied visual art under William Dunlap. He later earned a master's degree in art from Memphis State University.

Influenced by many 20th-century pop artists, he eventually worked as an assistant to the iconic conceptual artist Christo. His career in the entertainment industry was launched when he channeled his outsized and anthropomorphic sensibility into his first major job as art director on Pee-wee's Playhouse. He was hired to create the setting for the show at its inception.

His success with the show made him an in-demand art director for music videos. He worked with many major music video directors in the 1980s and 1990s, and is remembered for bringing his signature style to many memorable videos, particularly George Harrison's I Got My Mind Set on You.

In 1994, he moved to the big screen as production designer for Dumb and Dumber. This was the beginning of a long and productive relationship with Peter and Bobby Farrelly. Bartholomew provided much of the artistic vision on all the Farrelly Brothers films, including Kingpin, There's Something About Mary, and, most recently, The Heartbreak Kid.

"He was a total weirdo, the best kind of weirdo and the most talented artist I've ever known, but his huge heart will be the thing I'll most remember when I think of Sidney J," Peter Farrelly said.

In 2002, he wrote and directed the kids' soccer film Just For Kicks for MGM.

His visual artwork is exhibited in galleries in New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

He was also a blues harp player, animal lover and avid sailor.

Bartholomew will live on in legend for once driving a car off a cliff, another time running 12 troopers to the North Carolina state line in his buddy Merle's Maserati, and jamming with Vassar Clements.

He is predeceased by his parents and his loyal and beloved airedales Jack, Scout and Bubba.

He is survived by sister Jackie Beach and brother-in-law Marshall Beach of New Bern, North Carolina; nephew Mark Beach; niece Amy Parrish and her husband Andrew; grandnephews Jackson and Nicholas Parrish; and many friends.

At present, funeral plans are incomplete.

Puzo Estate Sues Over Godfather Games

Anthony Puzo, son of late author Mario Puzo, has filed a lawsuit claiming that Paramount Pictures owes the estate royalties from the 2006 Electronic Arts video game based on The Godfather book and movie. According to Daily Variety, Puzo is seeking more than $1 million in the breach of contract motion.

Filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the suit sites a revenue sharing agreement that Mario Puzo supposedly struck with Paramount before his death in 1999. Paramount reportedly got rights to the Godfather book for a steal since Puzo was was a struggling writer with a family to support at the time. The movie, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, of course ended up becoming box office smash that spawned two sequels and is indelibly engrained in pop culture the world over.

Developed by EA through a licensing relationship with Viacom Consumer Products, The Godfather: The Game has gamers create their own mob character and relive classic moments from the film in open-world, non-linear action-adventure gameplay. Players have various choices for solving the family's problems with violence, skillful diplomacy or a cunning mixture of both.

Bolt Games Set for November

Disney Interactive Studios announced today that video games based on the upcoming Walt Disney Animation Studios feature, Bolt, will hit retail outlets in November. Developed by Avalanche Software, Disney’s family games development studio, Bolt will be available for Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation3, PlayStation2, Nintendo DS and Windows-based PC. The film will hit theaters in 3-D and standard presentation on Nov. 26.

Bolt tells the story of a canine TV star (voiced by John Travolta) that is inadvertently shipped from Hollywood to New York City. During his cross-country journey home to his owner, Penny (Miley Cyrus), he makes the surprising discovery that his TV super powers don’t work in the real world. He his joined in hs adventure by a jaded, abandoned housecat named Mittens (Susie Essman) and a TV-obsessed hamster in a plastic ball named Rhino. The feature is co-directed by Chris Williams and Byron Howard.

The video game takes place in the world of Bolt’s action-packed television show, where our hero has various powers including laser vision and the superbark, which sends out a sonic blast to devastate opponents. Playing as Bolt and owner Penny, gamers will explore five international locations including Russia and Italy.

The Nintendo DS version, developed by Altron, will include competitive and co-op multiplayer mini games, as well as DGamer, Disney Interactive Studios’ new technology that provides a connected game community for Disney video game fans. With DGamer, players earn content and interact with others on Nintendo DS through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, or on a PC through the website.

Wiseman Turning Gears of War

Len Wiseman, director of the Underworld films and Live Free or Die Hard, has been tapped by New Line to helm a movie based on Epic Games’ award-winning video game Gears of War, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Temple Hill's Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey are producing the sci-fi actioner from a script by Chris Morgan (Wanted, The Fast and the Furious 4).

Gears of War is a third-person tactical action/horror game that has players take on the role of Marcus Fenix, a soldier at war against the immense Locust Horde, a mass of nightmarish creatures that threatens human existence. Most remarkable for its sophisticated next-generation graphics, the game debuted in 2006 and quickly sold more than three million units to become the best-selling game for Xbox 360 and the most popular Xbox Live title. The game also took Game of the Year at the 2007 Game Developers Choice Awards, held in conjunction with the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Epic Games developed Gears of War as a multi-platform entertainment franchise and had already crafted story elements beyond those presented in the game to prepare for film and publishing opportunities. Cliff “CliffyB” Bleszinski, who served as lead designer on the game, will serve as exec producer on the film.

Mike Young’s Toon Aids China’s Earthquake Victims

Proceeds from a special screening of Mike Young Productions and Global Digital Creations’ Happy Little Submarines feature will be used to build new schools in earthquake-affected areas on China. Based on the studio’s Dive Olly Dive! animated series, the feature was released in over 260 Digital Cinema Multiplexes across China during the June 1 Children’s Day weekend, and received overwhelming box office response.

Over 113,000 admissions were tallied during the three-day opening weekend, with 100% of the film’s box office proceeds from the weekend donated by GDC towards the effort of rebuilding elementary schools damaged by the recent earthquakes in Sichuan, China.

“There is a huge amount of rebuilding that needs to happen in these damaged areas,” explains Catherine Xu, Deputy managing director at GDC. “We felt it was appropriate for us to apply the gains from this children’s film to help benefit kids in dire needs, like rebuilding their schools. With our employees’ donations and our opening weekend box office proceeds, we have raised enough money to rebuild one or two elementary schools in the earthquake devastated Sichuan region of China.”

“The scale of the disaster in China and the effect on many young children’s lives is hard to comprehend,” says Mike Young, co-founder and partner at MYP. “We experienced the terrible Northridge earthquake in California in 1994 and it is difficult to grasp that the Chinese quake was more than ten times greater. We’re just happy to be a part of the relief effort and doubly thrilled that our ‘little submarine that could’, Olly, created by Liverpool’s Andrew and Ian Ross in Wales, could bring some good to kids in China at this difficult time.”

The CG-animated feature is inspired by the kids’ property Dive Olly Dive! which follows the fun-filled underwater escapades of Olly and Beth, two young research submarines-in-training. Little Happy Submarines and Dive Olly Dive!” are a co-production of MYP, GDC, Flying Bark Productions of Australia, KI.KA, ARD of Germany and Telegael of Ireland.It is also produced with the support of the MEDIA Plus Program of the European Community. The series airs on PBS Sprout in the U.S. For more info, visit

Conde Nast Portfolio on the Return of 3-D Movies

Condé Nast Portfolio has taken a look at the return of 3-D movies to the multiplexes on the eve of the Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D premiere in July. The article takes special note of DreamWorks Animation's gamble to release all their new movies in 3-D, as well as the 3-D releases of Disney's Toy Story movies, Peter Jackson's Tintin trilogy, and James Cameron's Avatar.

The Stan Winston tributes continue from aintitcoolnews:

I'm going to kick off this round of updates with a picture of Stan, nearly 20 years old, cradling a friend's newborn daughter, Molly, submitted by a friend of his:

That look on his face... we've heard it described a dozen times so far. Happiness and goofiness mixed. Here's the letter from the mother:

The baby that Stan is holding in that photo is Molly Shea, my daughter...well, as far as I know.

You see, Stan and Karen were among the first to hold our newborn girl. Our parents were still in our native New Orleans so the surrogate Winston parents showed up months before her birth grandparents would arrive.

And yes, what an expression he has on his face! When I told Stan that we were going to name her Molly, he threatened to fire me. That was until he held her and told us that she was a perfect little Molly.

Matt, Debbie, sorry for the confusion!

Shannon Shea

Nick Dudman, one of the creators of the Harry Potter Creature department in London.

Hi Harry,

I was lucky enough to meet Stan on a couple of occasions: once when he was in England prepping "Aliens", and once when I worked on "Interview with the Vampire" in New Orleans. I wish I had known him better.

He was a wide-eyed, over excited gentleman, and it was a pleasure to meet an icon who actually lived up to the image I had of him.

When I set up the Harry Potter Creature department, running crews of 50 to 120 at a time, I remembered my tour of his shop, and especially the atmosphere there. Stan provided his gifted artists with a wonderful environment, he actively helped them give their best...I took that with me, you are only as good as your crew, they are your hands and your eyes; treat them well. (Tho' James Cameron is absolutely correct- it is like herding cats...pedigree cats). His contribution to our craft is colossal; he set a wonderful standard making a worldwide network of artists all try to outdo themselves and him. The former happened a lot, the latter rarely if ever. We should never forget the standards he set.

From Hogwarts, to one of this world's only real wizards: Thank you Stan, for paving the way. We miss you.

Nick Dudman

Next up is Aaron Sims, who worked closely with Mr. Winston for AI:

Stan Winston was a visionary. I began working for him in late 2000, and during my first week there the film AI started development. I was responsible for several of the robot concepts, and Stan asked me to do a few of them using a new 3D animation program that I had been using. Until that time, all of my designs were done with pen and paper or Photoshop; I hadn’t considered designing anything using animation software, but Stan encouraged me to do it. After the first few designs, all of us – Stan, myself, and Steven Spielberg – were taken aback by this new way of looking at concept art. Stan knew the next wave when he saw it, and soon thereafter he asked me to lead his new digital animation department. It was a real honor to have him entrust me with that responsibility, and I’ll always be grateful to him for that. He was a real pioneer in this industry, and I’m so thankful and fortunate to have had him as a mentor and friend. He will be greatly missed.

Aaron Sims
The Aaron Sims Company

Next up we have Randy from Action Figure Times:


This tribute is a wonderful idea and I'm glad that AICN is fronting it. I'm glad I'm not the only one stunned by his sudden death.

Editing and writing Action Figure Times for so many years now, I’ve been fortunate enough meet a lot of varied and different people. From porn stars to playmates, artists of all types that work in pen & ink to clay & foam to mouse & computer, I’ve met many amazing people. But you don’t meet many Academy-Award winners and you sure don’t forget a four-time Academy Award winner.

I was lucky to meet and talk with Stan a couple of times in the early millennium, mostly involving his work with Stan Winston Toys. Some at comic shops, Comic Con or even at his studio. What many others who have worked with him have said about him is true. He was affable, always upbeat and treated everyone as if they were old friends come to visit. But his influence came to me more from the “house” he built more rather than anything else.

When I first moved to California in the early 90’s, I was working minimum wage for a toy store (you know-the one with the dyslexic letter in its name!) in the San Fernando Valley and without a car. During my time there walking the aisles, I noted guys coming in checking on toys wearing a cool Stan Winston FX t-shirt. Over time, I found out that his effects house was only one street over! After helping one of the guys get a much needed Christmas toy for his son, he asked if I wanted something for my trouble.

“Yeah, a job a Stan’s,” I responded. He chucked and said “How ‘bout a t-shirt and a tour of the place?” Score! It was another few months before he made good but it was worth the wait.

So on a hot afternoon in July, I got to visit a non-descript, set of industrial buildings. But there on the ground was a reserved parking sign… for Stan Winston. After going through a very paranoid receptionist and signing my life away, I got into the place proper. This when they were working on Congo as well as doing work trying to win a gig for a BIG monster film (I STILL can’t say it but A)they didn’t do the film and B)I’m sure the Japanese are quite happy that he didn’t!). The place was packed with people working hard and making some incredible stuff.

But what I remember most is the Meeting Room. If you ever saw his special effects show on AMC during the 90’s or read his book, “The Winston Effect”, you know what room I’m talking about. But for me that first time in, I’ve always thought of it as the “Holy S—t!” Room! That’s all I could think because the walls were jammed with Winston’s work. The stuff of legend.

A T-800 Endoskeleton. Damaged Arnold Terminator. Predator. Pumpkinhead. A full-size Velociraptor. A full-size Queen Alien Head. Edward Scissorhands. A full-size T-Rex Head. The monsters of Monster Squad.

True Icons of Film. These were representative of some of my most influential movies, the ones that made me want to be a part of film-making, to write scripts, to go to film school, to move three thousand miles to California. And they were there, stilled life waiting for the call of "Action!"

The Dream of Film in physical form.

If you don’t get inspired by all that creativity in one room, then you shouldn’t be film fan. But I felt that inspiration, that energy... and I’m sure Stan knew that effect would be there.

So after many years, I’m still out here chasing the Dream of Film. Why?

Because the Dream of Film can be real.

People like Stan Winston brought it to life.

You left us too soon, Stan. You still had more people to inspire.

See you on the other side.

Randy of AFTimes
aka Andrew Gaughen

Next we have Rebecca Himot who used to work for Stan. The Christmas Party story told below really had an affect on me:


I’m a nobody, so if you guys don’t want to print this letter I totally understand. But I figured I’d share just the same.

When I was 12, I sat in the theater as the credits of Edward Scissorhands rolled, waiting for that vital piece of information. Stan’s credit came up and I turned to my mother and said “I am going to work for that man.” She laughed at me but I was never so serious about anything.

Lacking the essential talents and skills, I figured an office job would be my best bet. So 10 years later, I managed to secure just that. I had that same fear everyone else did, that my hero would never be able to live up to my expectations. But boy, was I wrong. Stan was every inch the hero, and always shined the light on those around him. Every day that Stan was in the building, he’d do his “rounds.” And every day, he’d come in to my office and thank me for my hard work. He was the kind of guy you wanted to hang out with, with a mischievous and childlike streak that made you feel like you were in on some private joke. I think one of the most telling moments of my short time there was during a production meeting, when Stan was literally twitching in his seat… and after a while he confessed that his new video game had arrived and he wanted to get back to it as soon as possible.

It was a tight year, projects were getting delayed and I got swept up in a round of unfortunate lay-offs. Stan reminded me that I was still expected at the Christmas party that year. And at that party, he handed me my gift, gave me a hug and whispered in my ear: “I’m so sorry. I promise I’ll do everything I can to get you back to work.” It didn’t work out, but I would never forget his words or his kindness. Stan believed, and it made you want to believe, too. He was genuine, brilliant, and passionate. The world is forever better and brighter for his having been in it.

Rebecca Himot

And last up for this round is Tara Crocitto who worked herself up the ranks at Stan Winston Studios over the years and ended up one of the VPs of the company.

Hi Harry,

Thank you for this opportunity. I had the privilege of working with Stan for just over 11 years. My stint there was initially a temp position. Truth be it known, it was a glorified front office clerk/office manager and after working my way ‘up the ranks’ an assistant to Stan and ultimately one of five v.p.s at his Studio. It is a woman’s take, if you will. So here is the chick flick, the soft side and what I was so blessed to have been a part of:

I moved to Los Angeles from New York. I was signed with a bi-costal employment agency of sorts. They were sending me out on a job call. I had no idea where I was going or what the job was. Only that they were sending me on an interview for an office management position, somewhere in Van Nuys, California. That alone was odd because I had no idea where the heck that was!

After cruising up and down the street lost and I should say a little bit frantic, because I was told to be on time. This was imperative to this particular and potential employer. I desperately looked for the address. I finally recognized the numbers to the building I had been searching for. They were impeccably framed by thousands of manicured leaves of ivy, which covered the entire front side of the building.

I walked into what appeared to be a warehouse, confused and a bit concerned. Upon entering I was approached by a kind hearted girl who was answering phones, handing cash out of a metal box; to a man with a long list of things to do, all while, writing my name down on a ‘sign in’ sheet of paper, clipped to a board. She told me to have a seat as “Stan” would be with me in a just a moment.

I sat in a chair, looking around the lobby and couldn’t help but notice this HUGE black- bug/creature standing on a tall pedal stool and peering into my soul. Now, mind you, I am a New York girl. I’m thinking… I am pretty tough. I have seen some big ass bugs, rats and all kinds of creatures of the night, but where the hell am I? I resign myself to ‘this must be a management position for an exterminating company or something.’

Suddenly, without any warning, a man falls down and entire flight of stairs screaming “Lady…Lady!” I jump up out of my chair to help him only to see his glasses are now askew across one side of his face and he is hysterically laughing (on the inside). He smiles at me and to himself. He recognizes how concerned I appear and says “Hi, I’m Stan Winston.” By this point, I’m thinking, is this guy for real? Just then, an innocent whispering of a giggle signals me. I glance up. A top the landing stands a beautiful blonde haired woman. Her eyes are big and bright and her smile sets everything strait… the joke was on me. Stan then said, as only a man who deeply loves can, “This is my wife, Karen.” In his brief first encounter with me and in his very clear yet subtle way, Stan shared two of the most important things in the world to him: His wife Karen and the value of laughter. “Come on,” he said, “I’ll show you around the shop.” “Around where?” I thought… Where the heck am I?

As we walked down a hall and into a corridor there were photographs of what seemed to be designs of other creatures, bugs and just scary looking stuff, framed along the walls. Finally, I asked, “What do you do here?” As if choreographed and in synch to the rhythm of his words and without missing a beat, Stan made a swooping gesture of his arm to his hand, as he opened the door and said, “I create characters.”

I walked through the door, all the while Stan was watching, looking for a reaction. It was clear, pretty early on, Stan loved the joy and awe his work could bring to people. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, I thought. Santa’s workshop wasn’t at the North Pole at all! It was right the heck here in Van Nuys California! And as if that wasn’t enough, there were cool Santa helpers too!

Santa’s helpers ended up becoming some of the greatest surrogate brothers and sisters a lost girl could ever hope for: Shane, John, Shannon, Crash, Richard, Chris, Paul, Gwidge, Adam, Len, Stiles, Mike, Alan, Dave, Rob, Jinky, Bill, Lindsay, Sean, Greg, Chuck, Pat, Rich H, Beth, Eileen, Karen, Lyndel, Katie, Kimberly, Mitsiko, Nathalie … The list goes on and was altered over the many years. Some came and went. Some came and stayed. And some were born there and will never go. But the one thing that was constant… we were family. They were brothers and sisters. Stan was an exceptional father to his two amazing children Matt and Debbie, but somehow he still found time to be a father to each one of his quasi ‘adopted’ family members. And there you have it. Yet, another of Stan’s absolutes: strong family, strong unit, a team, a bond, a trust.

In short, I realized fairly quickly (because he told me so, just about every day), he deemed these guys “the greatest artists in the world”. They worked with him and for him day and night. He honored that. He took care of them. These were the days of
Edward Scissorhands, Terminator II, Batman Returns, and The Jurassic Park Franchise. Stan had more than a discerning eye. He had a discerning heart. Stan knew how to spot passion. He and it were drawn to one another and those who had it were drawn to him. Likewise, he knew discipline.

There were laugh till you cry moments and work till the sun came up the next morning days. Moments in time so incredibly unbelievable, most people would think it impossible, made up and exaggerated. But I was blessed to be there and can tell you it was real. He was real and will always live on in those memories and the screens that show them.

It always struck me as incredible how Stan could handpick a group of people, knowing they would make a great overall team, despite their different backgrounds, personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Simply put, Stan was instinctively perceptive. He did what so few do. He trusted his gut. It was a very special and magical time, with a magical man who knew it was more important to believe than to wish. He would say “your perception is reality…believe.”

Eleven years after working with Stan, I left… Oh, who am I kidding? He fired my ass. After all, how much of me could he bare? But, I walked from Stan’s Studio wiser than most people get to be in 10 lifetimes.

I am no longer a lost girl. I can tell the world I knew a great man, he and both his families were able to teach me some of the greatest lessons I’ve come to know, because Stan believed in some basic but strong principles: Laugh, and the world will laugh with you. Be disciplined and hold yourself to a higher standard than anybody expects of you. However you accomplish it, be a part of a family. Dream. If you can imagine it, it can be accomplished. Perception is reality. And above all Love…it is the only thing you take with you.

Thank you Stan

I’ll love you always…


Eric Goldberg’s Character Animation Crash Course!

The long-awaited how-to book from master animator and director Eric Goldberg is almost here. Character Animation Crash Course! will be released next month and is currently available to pre-order on Amazon for $23. Here’s what Eric tells us about the book:

“Well, the animation book I’ve been writing for 25 years, based on my animation notes, has finally arrived! Well, almost… Character Animation Crash Course!, published by Silman-James Press, is 240 pages of cartoon goodness, all geared to getting great performances from your characters on the screen. It comes with an accompanying CD that has animation movie files of selected sequences in the book. You can watch them in real time, or frame-by-frame, and they all include X-sheets, inbetween charts, circled keys, and underlined breakdowns, so the tests can be analyzed while you read the book, revealing how the principles actually look in movement and why. Shipping date might be as early as mid-July. Also, I’ll be premiering it at the San Diego Comic-Con, signing copies at Stuart Ng Books, Friday July 25th from 2 - 4, and Saturday July 26th from 11 -12. Also, the book provides examples from classic cartoons that can be pretty easily-accessed in this DVD, YouTube, iPod age so you can see my inspirations from the Golden Age Masters. And because, frankly, I’m a big geek.”

(thanks cartoonbrew)

Jolie mum on 'Sin City 2'

Although her attachment to 'Sin CIty 2' created huge buzz years ago, Angelina Jolie told MTV Movies Blog that she's uncertain of what, if anything, is happening with that movie.

"I found the first 'Sin City' impressive, but I don't know what they're going to do with the next one to make [it] as original as the first one," Jolie said.

She had been rumored to be all but cast as Eva, the titular 'Dame to Kill For' in one of Frank Miller's arcs that would be part of the sequel. The actress admits that, if there's a reason to do the movie, it's Miller himself.

"I think he's a genius," Jolie said. "I'd be curious [if offered]."

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