Monday, June 23, 2008

News - 06/23/08...

How the Batman Film Franchise Almost Went “Beyond”

In 1999 Warner Brothers was devising a plan for the next Batman film. Ever since the critical and financial failure of 1997’s Batman and Robin, Warner’s had to lay low from the franchise for a while. But now enough time had a passed and they were ready to once again bring The Caped Crusader to the big screen. Several ideas were being thrown around but perhaps the most interesting involved a live action Batman Beyond adaptation.

Now for those of you unfamiliar with Batman Beyond, it is a cartoon series that ran from January 1999 to December 2001. It is yet another addition to the sprawling DC animated universe. The show is set in a future Gotham City, one in which the original Batman has been retired for many years. The show introduces Terry McGinnis, a high school student who ends up taking the mantle of The Batman with Bruce Wayne acting as his commander/mentor.

While originally intended by Warner Brothers executives to be more kid friendly in tone as compared to previous DC animated shows, Batman Beyond ended up being perhaps the darkest show in the franchise. The dark nature of the show was due much to the edgy rock music soundtrack and the dystopian feel of the city and villains. Certainly there was plenty of solid source material to make a successful film adaptation.

In producing a script Warner Brothers had the benefit of turning to people who worked on the TV series. Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, two longtime architects of the DC animated universe, were asked to develop a script. Alongside them was Neal Stephenson, an accomplished science fiction writer. Stephenson’s penchant for writing in the postcyberpunk genre was helpful in developing a cinematic adaptation of the future Gotham City from the series. Boaz Yakin was attached to direct the film and also helped out with the writing.

A script was produced and handed into Warner Brothers. However the decision was made not to pursue the Batman Beyond movie project and instead look towards doing an adaptation of Frank Miller’s popular “Year One” graphic novel. While a strict “Year One” movie adaptation was never produced it did serve in some part as the blueprint of Chris Nolan’s “Batman Begins” the film that proved to be a massive success and brought the Batman film franchise back to life.

At this point it’s not impossible to imagine a live action Batman Beyond movie being made, it is however extremely unlikely. With the ongoing success of the Nolan franchise it seems unnecessary on Warner’s part to produce a different Batman film. Instead they are pouring all their resources into Nolan’s series and admittedly that is for the best.

But I still can’t help but wonder just what a Batman Beyond film would have had to offer. If nothing else it surely would have been a unique chapter in the history of Batman films.

Some fans don't want Singer and Routh to 'Return'

An segment of 'Superman' fandom is mobilizing to try to pressure director Bryan Singer and actor Brandon Routh away from the Superman film franchise. The pair are set to revisit the character in 'The Man of Steel', which could go into production next year.

Will the fans have their say? Does the movement represent any kind of majority? Or is it just a handful of noisy upstarts?

Check out the blog post for more details on the anti-Singer/Routh movement.

Michael Reaves discusses his work on 'Batman: The Animated Series'

The World's Finest sat down with legendary writer Michael Reaves to talk about his past work, including Batman: The Animated Series. Good or bad, we ask Reaves what he thought about some of his most cherished work and work that didn't quite connect with the fans.

Concerning your work on the DC Animated Universe, let's work our way backwards a little bit. Your last listed work for the DCAU was the DTV film Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. How did that project come about? Did you pitch the concept initially? And were you pleased with the outcome?

How it came about was simple — WBA decided to do one last DTV about Batman. They gave it to Alan Burnett, who was my producer on TAS, and he hired me to write it. He had to fight for me a little, since WBA’s (perfectly sensible) attitude was, Why hire an outside writer when we have writers on staff? But Alan went to bat (so to speak) for me, and you know the rest.

Reaction from Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman was a bit mixed. Some fans really loved it, particularly the introduction of Batwoman, while others were hoping for a little bit more substance for the last Batman: TAS DTV. How do you respond to that? Do you think the fans are being ungrateful or . . . well . . . just fans?

Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. It was a conscious decision to lighten this one up a bit; we felt that, over the years, we’d put Bats through a fair bit of angst and suffering, and since this would be our farewell to the TAS universe, why not let him get the girl for once?

DC has really dug deep into the DTV format, as well as the feature length live-action movie genre. What type of freedoms, or even censorship, do you come across when writing for this genre? Basically, how does writing for a feature length movie differ from writing a standard length episode?

Obviously, a movie is much more complex in terms of story, and much more lenient in the matter of censorship. I remember in B:MOTP, we, the storyboard guys, went a little nuts in the opening fight with broken glass, something we were never allowed to show in the series.

If we go back a little further, to Batman: The Animated Series, you've written, or at least co-written, a host of fan-favorite episodes, including the amazing "Second Chance" and beautifully done "Feat of Clay" two-parter. When working on this series initially, did you know it was going to be something as redefining and important to the animation industry at the time?

Well, we were hoping it would. The series got off to a bit of a rocky start, story wise, with some less-than-memorable initial episodes, but once Paul Dini came on board to write “Heart Of Ice” we knew how far we could push it.

And, right now, my apologies in advance for bringing this up, but you also wrote the episode "The Terrible Trio." How did that episode come about and were you disappointed when the reactions came back as so negative toward it? How do you compare this episode, one of the least popular of the series, to one of your highly acclaimed work (like "Avatar" for example)?

I guess the law of averages says you have to come up with a stinker every once in awhile. I’ve written over 400 TV scripts, the vast majority for animation, and of those I’d say that I’m very proud of maybe 50, cringe in shame on seeing maybe 20, and the rest are just ... there. A script is a blueprint, a schematic — not the finished product. There are so many variables over which you have no control. You sweat blood writing something really great and then, depending on which production house is up next in rotation, see it shipped to either TMS and be animated brilliantly, or to Akom and be animated ... not so brilliantly. It’s the luck of the draw. Regarding “The Terrible Trio”, I don’t remember that much about it – it was just one of many on my schedule. You try to make every one of them as good as you can, but ultimately airdates must be met.

During your time, you've also adapted some comic-book stories into episodes ("A Bullet for Bullock"). What's the process of adapting a comic book story onto the small screen? Is it relatively simple, or harder than it looks? Why?

Generally it’s harder, because unless you’re adapting multiple issues you tend to run out of material before the first act is finished. Since there are usually three acts to the show, this presents a problem.

Finally, to wrap up this segment of the Q & A, looking back on your time at BTAS, what work are you most proud of? What will you always take from working on this series?

I think I’m happiest with the quality of the work I did — especially an episode called "I Am the Night" — and grateful for the opportunity to stretch.

Any thoughts on your episode "I Am The Night" being included on the Batman: Gotham Knight video release? Are you excited that this episode will reach a potentially new audience?

I'm very pleased and flattered to have my episode in such august company.

Before I forget, you wrote a Batman novel called "Fear Itself", which was released last year. For those of us who may not have come across this book yet, can you fill us in on the book? What's it like to work on a Batman novel as opposed to an animated episode?

It’s a story featuring the Scarecrow, and it’s an idea I had back in my TAS days: A well-known horror novelist losing his ability to scare readers, who in desperation makes a Faustian bargain. Trouble, as usual, follows.

Now, working on Batman wasn't your only major animation work. You've worked on Spider-Man Unlimited, The Real Ghostbusters, Gargoyles, Roughnecks, He-Man, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for example. What draws you to these types of series and what challenges do they bring to you, as a writer?

Well, I’ve always enjoyed action-adventure to cutsy-poo stuff, and the more realistic scenarios to squash ‘n’ stretch styles. I started writing animation very early in my career, and found I had an aptitude for it. And I enjoyed writing for various new incarnations of the heroes I had as a child. I’ve written for Tarzan, Flash Gordon, the Phantom, and a bunch of other pulp characters — not to mention a slew of comic book characters and new ones as well. It’s a great way to keep the inner child and the outer ones all nourished at once.

Now, after that fairly loaded question, one of your upcoming works is Star Trek: New Voyages, something you tagged as the ultimate fan film. Care to fill us in on what this project is? Give us the full nine yards on this project!

It requires a bit of backstory, but, since you asked ...

This started about a dozen years ago (actually, it started over three decades ago, but more on that in a minute), when a ST:TOS fan named James Cawley decided, in the best tradition of Our Gang, to put on a show in the barn. In this case, the barn was an abandoned auto dealership showroom building way the hell up in the Adirondacks, and the show in question was Star Trek. It was Cawley’s contention that, since the Enterprise was on a five-year mission, and NBC had cancelled it after the first three, fans were owed two more years. So he decided to by God provide them. Using money from his day job as one of the more successful Elvis impersonators (I swear to God, it’s all true), he got the blueprints for the original sets, built most of them (bridge, sickbay, transporter room and a couple of wild walls), recruited a bunch of friends and they did a sort of proof-of-concept pilot. It was pretty bad, but still got a huge amount (millions) of downloads when posted. More importantly, they learned from their mistakes. Their second one was much better, and got them the attention of Walter Koenig, who enlisted D.C. Fontana to write an episode featuring Chekov.

This is where Marc Scott Zicree and I come in. Over 30 years ago I pitched an idea to the Star Trek series that never happened, back in the’70s — they decided to do movies instead. But while they were open to pitches, I ran past them what was substantially the story for "World Enough and Time." They liked it, but unfortunately (I thought at the time) the show closed before they could buy it. (Which turned out to be for the best, ultimately, since CBS would own it now and we couldn’t have done it without buying it back.) Anyway, Marc remembered it, and suggested that we put it on the slab and see if we could run a few gigavolts through it and get it up on its feet. Which we evidently did, and not too shabbily: the “webisode” has won a TV Guide Online Award, beating out (among others) Battlestar Galactica; it’s been nominated for a Nebula Award, and as of this writing it’s still in the running for the 2008 Hugo Award. And, last but certainly not least, we’ve been made fun of by the MST3K guys, which really means we’ve arrived.

It also means I hold the record for the longest turnaround between a pitch and a greenlight on what is essentially the same show. So the moral is, Don’t throw anything away. Ever.

Outside of animation and this upcoming Star Trek project, are there any other entertainment projects you'd like to fill us in on?

Haven’t done too much TV lately, unless you count the “webisode” (I’m sorry, but that portmanteau has to hang around the dictionary awhile longer before I’m comfortable enough with it to take the quotes off. I mean, have you ever seen a more ungangly neologism? Outside of “neoligism” itself, that is). Anyway, I mostly write books these days, and the (very) occasional movie. I did a novel with Neil Gaiman last year, called Interworld, that sold very well. And Star Wars novels, which keep the lupine pests from piling too deep on the doormat. But there are some interesting things possibly pending on the Internet. If I’ve learned anything from my Star Trek experience, it’s that “There are always possibilities.” The Final Frontier just might be the Web. So stay tuned...

Japanese Animators Unionize

Beginning this month, a group consisting of hundreds of Japanese animation artists have launched the Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA), an attempt at unionizing Japanese animation artists, especially those who freelance, and creating awareness of the generally poor working conditions of Japanese animators.

Studio Live's Toyoo Ashida (the director of Vampire Hunter D and the first movie and second television series of Fist of the North Star) heads this group which includes 447 members (as of the end of April). Ashida, Paprika director Satoshi Kon, and Eureka Seven director Tomoki Kyoda are part of the 15-member steering committee.

90% of the animators and directors are freelancers, and those who have trouble making ends meet are expected to face increasing hardships as they grow older. In particular, there are veteran creators in their 40s and 50s who are getting by on 3 million yen (about US$30,000) a year. JAniCA plans to survey the current living conditions of animators for a database in this field of study, and to push initiatives to raise the quality of anime as well.

More details about the formation of the group can be found at Anime News Network. To better understand the necessity of this group, this article describes some of the working conditions that Japanese animators have to endure:

One 32-year-old female animator is working in her second year at an animation company to pursue her childhood dream, but she works 12-hour days for half the salary of her former job. Another animator used to be a regular company employee with an apartment to himself, but had to move back with his parents since he could not afford rent on an animator’s budget. Without health insurance, he would not check into a hospital even when an illness worsened. One 59-year-old had to cut back due to deteriorating physical health, and now subsists on 120,000 yen (US$1,000) a month. Some of the 59-year-old animator’s former colleagues now receive public assistance or are now homeless.

According to JAniCA, a storyboard artist finishes the storyboard of a 30-minute episode in three weeks for 220,000 to 230,000 yen (US$1,900 to US$2,000). That averages to 70,000 yen (US$600) a week, 280,000 yen a month (US$2,400), and 3,360,000 yen (US$28,800) a year, with no vacation. A key animator earns about 3,000 yen (US$25) for one scene, and completes about two scenes of key animation frames in 10 to 15 hours on one day. That averages to 6,000 yen a day (US$50), 180,000 yen a month (US$1,500), and 2,160,000 yen (US$18,400) a year, with no vacation. If any of the workers have family or raise children, then it is impossible to work these hours without days-off. 20% to 30% of all animators earn an annual salary of around 1,000,000 yen (US$10,000), or 6,000 to 10,000 yen (US$500 to US$900) a month.

(thanks cartoonbrew)

Wandering Warners

via the animationguildblog - hope for WB Animation?

I hadn't been to Warners Animation in like forever, an imbecilic move on my part. But I had it in my pea brain that pretty much nothing was going on over at the Warner Ranch.

Wrongo. The division is doing twenty-six episodes of Batman, also a direct-to-video super hero feature. So I hopped over there this afternoon ...

Veteran animation producer Sam Register took command of the division the beginning of the month, and I asked one of the artists on the third floor of the Warner Animation Building how Mr. Register was working out.

Mr. Register.

"He's great," the artist said. "He's been around here a lot, involved in story development, design and model selections, in pretty much everything. A really hands on guy."

Which is a refreshing change, since I've been around long enough to remember Warner Animation honchos who were hardly ever in attendance at the facility. (An act of Congress might have gotten them to materialize, but nothing else.)

I asked if Mr. Register was going to put new projects into production and get the unit moving again. The artist grinned at me.

"Here's hoping."

Panda Hand-Drawn Animation

More from the animationguildblog:

Kevin Koch's put up a couple of Kung Fu Panda posts, commenting on the hand drawn opening sequence and closing credits. He writes about the end credits:

I knew this character animation was done by DreamWorks animators, and what struck me was that I was able to guess who animated what in about half of them. I guess all those years working together on Prince of Egypt, Road to El Dorado, Sinbad, and Spirit had something to do with that.

I particularly like the Tigress (by my
El Dorado supervisor, Rodolphe Guenoden, who choreographed all the fight scenes in the film), Tai Lung (by another superb French animator, Philippe Le Brun), and the Duck (Alessandro Carloni). Simon Otto, who did the Eagle animation in Spirit, got to return to some avian animation with the crane, and everyone did a great job. It’s hard not to miss hand-drawn animation when looking at this stuff.

The post includes a quicktime of the animated portion of the end credits, so it can be stepped through and learned from.

And then Kevin follows with a post about the animated opening:

How about a little equal time for Kung Fu Panda opening sequence hand-drawn goodness?! If you haven’t seen this yet, I recommend you see it on the big screen first ...

A friend sent me a link to the two and a half minute James Baxter-animated opener to KFP, and as a follow-up to the last post ... I’ve turned it into a movie file so you could step through it.

Oh, and for those of you who just love the animation highlighted in the last two posts, word is that DreamWorks has a bunch of very talented animators hard at work on a hand-drawn
KFP short (that’s REALLY long from what I hear) (allegedly around 20-25 minutes) that will come out on the Kung Fu Panda DVD.

(Yes, there's animation desks and light boards at DreamWorks animation again. For the visuals and links for Kevin's posts, kindly click on through to Synchrolux.)

Garfield's 30th Anniversary in the Press

The media has taken note of the 30th anniversary of Jim Davis' Garfield comic strip, with his birthday accepted as June 19, 1978. The Indianapolis Star has published an in-depth profile of life at Paws Inc., the headquarters of Garfield in Muncie, IN, while London's Times Online speaks briefly with creator Davis about the strip, which has spawned a licensing empire of toys and animated TV shows and movies that generated an estimated $750 million to $1 billion in sales in 2004.

Full Mummy Trailer Hits!

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor director Rob Cohen has premiered the full new trailer on his official Blog for the Universal release, hitting theaters on August 1st. The anticipated film stars Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, John Hannah, Michelle Yeoh, Anthony Wong, Luke Ford and Isabella Leong.

The blockbuster global "Mummy" franchise takes a spellbinding turn as the action shifts to Asia for the next chapter in the adventure series. Fraser returns as explorer Rick O'Connell to combat the resurrected Han Emperor (Li) in an epic that races from the catacombs of ancient China to the neon-lit streets of post-war Shanghai and high into the spectacular Himalayas. Rick is joined in this all-new adventure by son Alex (Ford), wife Evelyn (Bello) and her brother, Jonathan (Hannah). And this time, the O'Connells must stop a mummy awoken from a 2,000-year-old curse who threatens to plunge the world into his merciless, unending service.

Go here to watch the trailer!

Exclusive: Talking The Dark Knight With Nestor Carbonell

Nestor Carbonell appears to not only be on a roll, but is quite a versatile actor, appearing as a psychotic hitman in last year's 'Smoking Aces', the mysterious Richard on TV's 'Lost' and soon as Gotham City's Mayor in 'The Dark Knight.'

Like co-star Monique Curnen, he is a Latino with a prominent role in a major film and in the next segment of a series of interviews for
'The Dark Knight', Carbonell also discusses the joy of working with both Gary Oldman and the late Heath Ledger.

Of course he too is sworn to secrecy about the plot, but was able to share his thoughts on director Chistopher Nolan and how roles are expanding for Latin actors. Carbonell is not only familiar with superhero roles having portrayed a Batman-like character on the cult TV series
'The Tick', but is working on the Batman cartoon and shares rumors that Heath Ledger's performance in the film may be Oscar worthy.

LatinoReview: Can you describe whom you play in 'The Dark Knight'?

Carbonell: Sure, I play the Mayor of Gotham and The Dark Night.

LatinoReview: How was the process of you getting involved in this film and what was the attraction for you to come aboard?

Carbonell: The attraction was pretty obvious. If you get a chance to work with someone like Christopher Nolan who is a tremendous direction and also writer, then its just an amazing cast, it was a dream. I auditioned for it about a year ago February. I read for Christopher Nolan and the producer, Emma Thomas and I didn't hear for a couple of months. I was actually in Hawaii shooting 'Lost' and I got a call from my manager that they were interested in me for The Dark Night. I said 'Oh, great.' So we sent some tapes and a couple of days later I received the offer. It was an incredible moment.

LatinoReview: Were you a fan of the first film?

Carbonell: Yeah, of his first film, yeah. 'Batman Begins'? Yeah, I was a big fan. What I love about what he does with the genre is that he just goes deeper. He just scratches under the surface and it becomes more of a psychological thriller than just an action movie, even though there is plenty of action, they are really heavy films. They are really smart and emotional films. It's as much geared to adults as to adolescents.

LatinoReview: Were you already a fan of the genre itself, with all these comic book movies coming out?

Carbonell: Yeah, I am , I am a fan of the genre. The funny thing, the irony is that about 8 years ago I did a series called 'The Tick'. We only shot 9 episodes but it was based on the cartoon, but the live action version. I played a character named Batmanuel, so that was my connection to the Batman world. It was obviously a spoof on action heroes. I have always been a fan, especially of Batman. He was such an interesting superhero. It was a real dream to work on this film.

LatinoReview: Judging from the trailer you have scenes with Gary Oldman. How was it working with him?

Carbonell: He was amazing. I have admired him since 'Sid and Nancy', for so long, and he's a tremendous talent. What a genuine and kind individual too, just a good man. He's just a really, really kind, good man. He is very gracious as an actor and a person. It was incredible, a real treat to work with him. I also worked with Aaron Eckhart, who is again phenomenal. He is also very gracious and generous. It was a really wonderful environment to work in. Christopher Nolan has a very relaxed attitude. That is a great thing for actors to work in that kind of environment, because it allows you to relax, and also create without feeling tense. All around it was just an amazing experience.

LatinoReview: When the movie started filming it was based around the Joker, which is Heath Ledger's character. Did you have any scenes with him at all?

Carbonell: I am in a couple of scenes with Heath but I really didn't have much interaction with him in the film. There was one particular moment that comes to mind that I did take note. I announce to a group of police officers and there is a big cheer in the room. Heath Ledger is behind bars, and it's in the trailer actually, and it wasn't scripted. He improvised this where he started clapping along in a very mocking sardonic way. Immediately I knew 'Whoa, this guy's got this role right in his veins. He knows this guy really well.' That was one observation I had, but I didn't have much interaction with him. I wish I would have had more. From what I understand the work he does in this film is just outstanding and unbelievable. I haven't had a chance to see it but others have seen it. They said it was incredible.

LatinoReview: I know some folks who have seen the film and tell me that when you see Ledger playing the role he is The Joker.

Exactly, he has apparently fleshed out that character, in his own way obviously, but to the point where he left a major impression on so many people who have already seen it. In fact I just spoke with someone from Warner Brothers who told me that it's absolutely Oscar worthy. It's an unbelievable and breathtaking performance.

LatinoReview: Since you saw the first one, Chris Nolan's work, what is it that he brings to this one that he couldn't bring on the first one?

Carbonell: From what they said is that he goes even deeper. Like I said, I haven't had a chance to see it, but he scratches even deeper than he did with 'Batman Begins'. We saw the genesis of Batman and his personal beef. Here, without giving away any plot, Batman is really tested in this film. In his mind he is tested. He really digs deep there. We get into the darker side of Batman. Apparently also, in terms of action, it is action packed as well. Its amp'd up on so many levels. I can't wait to see it, I am going to see it in another week or so, when it's completely finished.

LatinoReview: How was it actually working with Chris Nolan then, taking his direction?

Carbonell: What is great is to me I always see what's on the page. If it's on the page, you got a really good shot of having a great project. If it's not on the page it's an up hill battle. So, when I read the material and saw what I had to do I was like 'Wow.' It's just very rich and very well written material. It's phenomenal, and adds to that environment that he creates, he is very relaxed. He's worked with basically the same crew for many years now on many movies since 'Memento'. It's a very well oiled machine that they have, with a shorthand in how they communicate, and they are very relaxed. If you can create a relaxed environment that is 70 percent of the battle right there, and particularly on a movie with this kind of budget. If you can create that kind of environment then you are really doing everyone a favor there, and he really does. His insight is great, he's a very bright man, and he's a very talented man. He knows exactly what he wants, very efficient. Many of the films he does, and not because for any other reason but he does exactly what he wants, he finishes early. I don't know if it ended up being on 'Batman' but on other films he's finished early because he's very efficient. He knows exactly what he wants and he gets it.

LatinoReview: Was it really tight security, in regards to reading the script, when you were trying to get the part?

I never read the script. I didn't get to read the script before I got the part. I simply got pages that I had to audition for, I went in, and the night before I got the material. I went in and read for him, Emma Thomas, and the casting director John Papsidera. When I actually got the job I wasn't given the script. I was only given all of my scenes with my name, and a number, with a letter across to protect anyone from copying it. I was about given a script. I had to ask at one point if I could read it, and I was given permission to read it on the set, so someone was checking on me every two minutes to make sure I didn't have a camera on me. No, they were protecting against anything and I completely understand, there is a lot of curiosity.

LatinoReview:: Did you have any scenes at all with Bale?

Carbonell: I didn't, I met Christian Bale on the plane, on the way there, but we didn't have any scenes together.

LatinoReview: Are you up for sequels?

Carbonell: I can't really say, because I think that would be giving away a plot point. I wish I could answer that but I can't say. It's interesting, working on the show 'Lost' and its funny doing interviews for that show and also for 'Dark Knight'. My hands are pretty tied tight. I wish I could say that if there is a sequel that I'm in it, but we shall see.

LatinoReview: What is your take on Latinos now having a big boom in Hollywood? You and Monique Curnen are the only Latin's in 'The Dark Knight'.

Carbonell: From what I recall we are the only Latinos in this particular film, but Monique [Curnen] is a really prominent part of the film. I'm lucky enough to play the Mayor of Gotham, which is a pretty cool thing. I think it's tremendous. It's a phenomenal thing and from when I started things have really changed a lot. We have seen a lot of changes. The roles that were there for Latinos in the early 90's when I came out here were few and far between. Usually they were pretty specific to gang life and that kind of thing. A lot of actors before me opened a lot of doors. We all owe them a lot of thanks. Raul Julia, Anthony Quinn, Hector Elizondo, Desi Arnaz, there are so many of them. Thanks to them and then also the next crop of actors. Jimmy Smitts, Andy Garcia, Antonio Banderas. Then the directors like Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón , Alejandro González Iñárritu and so many of them. They have opened doors that now things are changing. After that the people are recognizing there is a market, an enormous Latin market, which they are recognizing there is money to be made there. It's a mixture of talent meets business. There you have it and it's a good thing. It allows there to be a greater presence, not just for the sake of employment, but also for the image of Latinos on the screen, big and small, in all kinds of roles. Not just the villain but also as a protagonist.

LatinoReview: What do you have coming up next after this?

I'm working on 'Lost' so I will be returning to that in August. I'm also current working, coincidently, on the Batman cartoon. This is called 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold'. It's the next Warner Brothers version of Batman, the cartoon.

LatinoReview: Any Latino directors you want to work with?

You pick, Robert Rodriguez, there are so many. It's incredible. A few years back there were two or three, but now the number has really grown. I would love to have the opportunity to work with any one of those. They are all enormously talented in their own way.

The Dark Knight Opens On July 18th.

New Hancock Clip Online

A new clip from the Peter Berg-directed Hancock is now online. Opening in theaters on July 1st at 7pm, the Columbia Pictures action-dramedy stars Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman and Eddie Marsan.

Click here to watch the clip!

5th TV Spot for The Dark Knight

Warner Bros. Pictures has released this fifth TV spot for The Dark Knight, in theaters and IMAX on July 18th. Christopher Nolan's follow-up to Batman Begins stars Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.

Court blocks DIC Entertainment sale to Cookie Jar

American Greetings Corporation announced Friday that it has obtained a temporary restraining order blocking the proposed sale of Burbank, California-based DIC Entertainment to Canadian animation studio Cookie Jar Entertainment (formerly known as Cinar).

The injunction was granted by Judge Dick Ambrose in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in Cleveland, Ohio.

Under the terms of the agreement -- which was announced earlier Friday -- Cookie Jar was to pay about $31.5 million for all of the issued and outstanding equity in DIC in a transaction valued at approximately $87.6 million. Upon closing, DIC was to continue as a subsidiary of Cookie Jar, which would remain a private company.

Friday's injunction recognized that the sale could violate American Greetings' rights as the owner of Strawberry Shortcake, as set forth in its agreement with DIC Entertainment. The claim raises concerns that the sale, and the unauthorized transfer of rights, could cause irreparable damage to the popular Strawberry Shortcake brand, American Greetings said.

American Greetings entered into an agreement with DIC Entertainment in 2001. The agreement prohibits a sale to a competitor without American Greetings' consent. American Greetings states that it did not consent to the proposed sale of DIC to Cookie Jar.

The agreement between Cookie Jar and DIC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. would have created one of the world's largest independent children's entertainment and education companies, with an animation library of nearly 6,000 half-hours of programming.

American Greetings' Strawberry Shortcake has earned $3 billion at retail since DIC re-launched the brand in 2004. Other DIC brands include Inspector Gadget.

The planned merger would havd included DIC's one-third interest in KidsCo, an international children's TV channel that currently has five million subscribers. NBC-Universal and Corus Entertainment are also partners in KidsCo.

"This transaction will bring together two dynamic and successful organizations with a shared passion for excellence in children's entertainment," Cookie Jar CEO Michael Hirsh said Friday before the injunction.

"With the greater scale and resources of the combined company, we will be in a much stronger position to deliver on our promise of bringing the best entertainment and educational content to children and families around the world through the medium of their choice. I first had the pleasure of working with Andy Heyward on the original Inspector Gadget series, and look forward to welcoming him into our team."

"We are thrilled to be joining forces with Cookie Jar's highly respected team," said Heyward, DIC's chairman and CEO. "Our two organizations are a perfect fit, with compelling brands, strong licensing and merchandising capabilities and a commitment to quality programming that reflects the needs and aspirations of children and families around the world. I look forward to working closely with Michael and Toper in bringing our two organizations together and charting our future growth."

"The combination of Cookie Jar and DIC is exciting for kids and families, broadcasters and retailers around the world," said Cookie Jar president and COO Toper Taylor.

"Our combined company will be a powerhouse in children's brands, with global reach through television, DVD, online, books, music and consumer products. We will be a more valuable partner for broadcasters, licensors and retailers with our expanded library, broad market reach, and unmatched capabilities in taking a property from creation to global broadcast, licensing, retail and promotions. In particular, we are very pleased to be reunited with American Greetings -- we have an enormous amount of respect for their senior management and talent-rich organization."

Had it not been for the injunction, Cookie Jar and DIC expected the transaction to close by this fall, subject to approval by DIC's shareholders and other customary approvals.

Gameloft Plays with BBC’s Top Gear

BBC Worldwide has entered a licensing agreement with video game publisher Gameloft to create a mobile game based on the BAFTA and Emmy-winning BBC television series Top Gear. Intended for the U.K. market, Top Gear: The Mobile Game will test player’s motoring skills with ambitious challenges, races and stunts on a virtual version of the show’s infamous test track.

Top Gear is the world’s No. 1 motoring media brand and consistently achieves audience ratings unheard of for a factual entertainment program,” says Gonzague de Vallois, senior VP of publishing for Gameloft. “By marrying Gameloft’s expertise in mobile games with the show’s original approach to cars and unique sense of humor, Top Gear: The Mobile Game will appeal to fans of the show and also to both car and racing enthusiasts alike.”

Seen in the U.S on BBC America, Top Gear is a reality series that has a trio of hosts putting various vehicles to the test in outrageous challenges that include filling cars with water and racing them over rough terrain to see how many pieces fall off. Fans will get to join in the fun when Top Gear: The Mobile Game becomes available later this year.

Eon Kid Coming to DVD

Anchor Bay Ent. is bringing the Kids' WB! Saturday morning series Eon Kid to DVD for the first time on Aug. 12. Eon Kid: Season One, Volume One will feature the first five episodes of the series, offering more than 100 minutes of action and adventure from a show that has garnered strong ratings since launching in September of 2007.

Eon Kid is produced by Manga Ent. And is set in a futuristic world where Marty, an enterprising 11-year-old who deals in scrap robot parts, stumbles upon an ancient Iron Fist. Unexpectedly, the Fist comes to life and attaches itself to Marty’s arm, endowing him with unknown fighting powers and putting him at the heart of a centuries-old struggle between good and evil. Marty’s hero’s journey takes him into a world of bounty hunters, battle-bots, legendary warriors and The General’s dark forces.

Installments included in the first DVD release are “The Legendary Fist,” “The Heir to the Fist,” “The Journey Begins,” “Strength Isn’t Everything,” and "Ally’s Secret". Bonus features will include a photo gallery, an extended trailer and a downloadable mini poster. The release will carry a suggested retail price of $16.98. A sampler DVD will be included in packs of all toys being released later this year by master toy licensee Playmates.

IMAX Going Digital with Madagascar

Large-format cinema exhibitor IMAX plans to phase out its 70mm film output in favor of a digital projection system, according to The Hollywood Reporter. to a digital system of projection. The first widely distributed digital presentation will be DreamWorks Animation’s CG sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, which hits theaters on Nov. 7 and will debut on 35 IMAX screens equipped for digital projection.

IMAX and DreamWorks Animation most recently teamed to launch the animated comedy Kung Fu Panda on 89 domestic and six international IMAX screens, raking in $2.3 million with a per-screen average of approximately $24,000. The two companies entered into a five-picture deal that will also give the huge-screen treatment to the upcoming toons Monsters vs. Aliens (March 27, 2009), How to Train Your Dragon (November 2009) and Shrek Goes Fourth (May 2010).

In July, IMAX and exhibitor AMC Entertainment will open the first three digital IMAX theaters in Washington and Baltimore. Philadelphia will then get three venues in August as IMAX works toward a goal of 50 theaters by the end of the year. The company will be gradually converting the 296 IMAX-equipped theaters across 40 countries. A driving factor behind the decision is the cost involved in striking 70mm prints. Studios will be able to release their films in digital IMAX theaters for a fraction of the price.

New Bolt poster

A new one-sheet advertising Disney’s upcoming CGI comedy Bolt has appeared online at Internet Movie Poster Awards. Hitting theaters on November 16th of this year, Bolt stars the voice talents of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus.

Another Wall•E trailer

An additional trailer for Pixar’s latest, Wall•E, is available for your viewing pleasure on ComingSoon. This new trailer, titled ‘Cities’, gives us a closer look at the abandoned metropolitan areas on Earth. Wall•E, as well as the new animated short Presto, can both be seen in theaters on June 27th.

Animation part of Native American film fest in NM

The recovery of Geronimo's skull -- stolen by President George W. Bush's grandfather -- is one of the stories being told in animation at the inaugural Talking Stick Film Festival, which starts Saturday in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Over 100 films will be shown at the festival, which continues until Thursday, June 26.

Most were written, directed or produced by Indians from the United States and Canada. A few come from the indigenous people of Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Samoa.

Directed by Ian Skorodin of the Choctaw nation, Crazy Ind'n tells of the time that Prescott Bush, grandfather of the current President, was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. While there, he dug up the grave of Geronimo and stole his skull. Set in the future, Crazy Ind'n is the story of one native's quest to reclaim the stolen artifact and right this great injustice.

The 20-minute film is being shown as part of Short Features Block 05. It can be seen at 10 a.m. Monday, June 23 at the Jean Cocteau and 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 24 at the Luna.

By The Rapids, directed by Joseph Lazare of the Mohawk nation and produced by Laura J. Milliken of the Ojibwe, will be seen at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 21 and 3 p.m. Monday, June 23 at the Luna.

When Wayne and Bev Littlehorn decide that the only way to sort out their marital problems is to take a vacation, Cory, their pampered city boy, is sent to stay in By The Rapids, a small Mohawk community. Left with his quirky grandma, his quirkier cousin and a whole lot of free time, Cory has no choice but to learn to adapt to a life without the conveniences of the city. Will a week here prove his undoing, or is a stay in the sticks just what Cory needs?

The 24-minute Canadian animated film will be shown as part of Short Features Block 02.

Incident At Rock Roe, directed and written by Roy Boney, Jr. of the Cherokee, is the seven-minute story of one Muscogee father and how an act of moral courage provides a glimmer of hope for his family and fellow Muscogee people as they are forced from their homes to the west.

Shown as part of Short Features Block 03, Incident At Rock Roe will be screened at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 21 at the Hacienda and 3:30 p.m. Monday, June 23 at the Jean Cocteau.

Part of Short Features Block 04, Raccoon & Crawfish uses modern technology to tell an ancient Oneida legend passed down through generations of storytellers. Like many Oneida legends, this story uses animals to tell a moral: the dangers of boasting and deception.

A hungry raccoon searches for food and finds a crawfish on a quest for glory. Their battle will decide the fate between an ego full of pride or a belly full of food.

Directed and animated by Cal Waller, Karabo Legwaila, Peter Hale, Shaun Foster, Heather Carpini and Mark Edwards of the Oneida nation, the seven-minute Raccoon & Crawfish will be seen at 4:30 p.m. Monday, June 23 at the Jean Cocteau and 11 a.m. Thursday, June 26 at the Hacienda.

Produced by K.A. Gilliland and directed by Andrew J. Sikora, the 16-minute Cherokee Stories is a glimpse of the pre-European world on the continent as seen through the eyes of the Cherokees. Part of Short Features Block 06, Cherokee Stories will be shown at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 24 at the Luna and 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 25 at the Jean Cocteau.

The Talking Stick Film Festival is named for the symbolic device handed around when some American Indian tribes discuss matters of importance. The holder of the "talking stick" is allowed to speak, while all others must listen.

"I look at each film as each person's time to hold the talking stick, to tell the story in their way," festival director Karen Redhawk Dallett said. "I was surprised how much work is out there -- and how much brilliant, really stunning, work is out there," said Dallett, who had initially thought that about 20 to 30 good films would be available.

The Talking Stick film fest is one of about a dozen Indian and indigenous film festivals in North America. For more information, visit

Scene from Crazy Ind'n.

Silver Surfer screenwriter says studio 'hesitant' about movie

THE SCREENWRITER of the proposed Silver Surfer spin-off from the Fantastic Four franchise says there is hesitation by Fox studio bosses about going ahead with the project.

J Michael Straczynski says Fox was disappointed in the performance of its 2007 movie Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer which brought in global box office earnings of only $288.5million, less than the $330million made by the first movie in 2005.

Straczynski (left, image by Phil Guest) spoke about the project to AMCTV. He said: "Whether or not it ever gets made I don't know because they were kind of disappointed in how Fantastic Four 2 did. And given how this will be a subset of FF2 in terms of the marketing strategy, I think there is hesitation there about putting it forward. The script is pretty good, I like it, but whether or not it goes into production, I have no idea.

"I was writing it as FF2 was about to come out, and the theory was for it to pick up literally the next frame after the FF2 movie, where you find out why Silver Surfer was there and what happened to him. We would have seen Galactus, his home world, what happened and him trying to get back there, because now that he's betrayed Galactus, he's concerned his home world might be in jeopardy.

"In the script I come up with some ways to visualize [Galactus] that are true to the original, but take it one step further using the current CGI technology that we have. So we would have seen him as a character on numerous occasions in the second movie, not inconsistent with the first distant shot of him in that that's just a way of concealing who and what he really is. Believe me, he would be not at all silly looking."

In an interview at the USA's Comic-Con convention in 2007, Straczynski had told IGN: "[The story] picks up right where the FF movie left off and it's designed to answer the questions that were asked in the movie but really weren't dealt with there, which [were]: Where did he come from, why did he become the Surfer and what is he doing here now?"

The depiction of comicbook cosmic entity Galactus (left) as a destructive cloud of debris in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was widely criticized online.

Straczynksi had told IGN: "I thought it was all they could do in the course of that movie, but in the second movie, you will see more of him.

"You don't want to sort of blow out something that big and massive for one quick shot in the first movie... Where you're showing the origin of the Surfer, that's where you do it; that's where you blow it out."

There were two hints in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer that Galactus was more than the cloud itself - a silhouette crossing a planetary surface showed the classic comicbook shape of the helmet, and there was the briefest glimpse of the outline of a figure within the heart of the cloud at the end of the movie. Although fans were largely disappointed, it does give hope that we could see more in the future.

Surfer unleashed a massive burst of energy at Galactus at the end of the movie, appearing to send them both away from Earth into another dimension or another part of the galaxy. It does leave the opportunity to continue the story - and it would be an ideal chance to venture further into alien territory and create a space-opera epic of strange beings and new worlds. The Silver Surfer movie should be a totally sci-fi spectacle.

There's been talk of Surfer filming in Australia, which offers a wealth of talent and some tempting tax incentives. Hollywood producer Avi Avad is keen to see more comicbook film projects made in Australia and was reportedly talking to an Australian director to take on a superhero movie - Aussie film-maker Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City and I, Robot) was a prime suspect and Internet Movie Database says Proyas (left) is 'in talks' on Surfer and lists the film as having a 2009 release date but there's been no confirmation of this.

Another name being mentioned for the director's chair is Baz Luhrmann (Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge). Luhrmann is also Australian and is director of Fox's wartime outback epic Australia starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman and due out in November.

Some fans online have also mentioned Darren Aronofsky, the American director of Requiem for a Dream and 2006's fantastic and visually stunning (but commercially unsuccessful) The Fountain, starring Hugh Jackman and Aronofsky's fiancee Rachel Weisz. I'd certainly like to see Aronofsky apply his craft to a superhero movie - possibly he'd need to make it somewhat more commercial than the non-linear Fountain project.

Of those three, Luhrmann seems the strongest contender, having just directed Australia and being an Aussie himself, even though he is least familiar with sci-fi material.

But there is at least a solid writer on board. Straczynski - who is among the special guests at this year's Comic-Con in San Diego on July 24-27 - created, wrote and produced Babylon 5 and Jeremiah. His biography on the Comic-Con website tells us he has adapted They Marched Into Sunlight for Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass; written Ninja Assassin for the Wachowski Brothers and Joel Silver to produce; and his first film, Changeling, was directed by Clint Eastwood, produced by Ron Howard, stars Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich, and was selected for competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. In comics, he writes Thor and The Twelve for Marvel and has begun writing for DC (with his first title soon to be announced).

Spider-Man 4 Targeted for May 2011

The Los Angeles Times reports that "Spider-Man" franchise producer Laura Ziskin said the fourth installment is tentatively scheduled to hit theaters in May 2011.

Already scheduled for the month of May that year are Marvel's own The First Avenger: Captain America on the 6th and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II.

Ziskin added that the screenplay is not finished yet, but that she and Sony Pictures were hopeful Spider-Man 4 could be ready in three years' time.

Neither star Tobey Maguire nor director Sam Raimi is yet committed to work on the next installment, but Sony has paid Marvel to renew its rights.

Six Wall-E Clips and a Featurette has posted six film clips and a new featurette from Pixar’s upcoming film WALL-E. Be warned of the possible spoilers. Directed by Andrew Stanton, Wall-E hits theatres on June 27.

Incredibly, Hulk gets abducted from Mass. theater

Missing: an eight-foot-tall green man wearing ripped purple pants and missing his feet.

Police in Lowell, Mass., say a promotional statue for the movie "The Incredible Hulk" disappeared from its spot in front of a local theater this week.

Police Capt. James McPadden says the statue is probably some kid's bedroom. But he thinks more than one person was involved and that a car or pickup truck was needed to whisk it away.

The statue is missing its feet because it was bolted to a platform and whoever took it snapped it off at the ankles.

Tiny Toons and Freakazoid Both Jumping onto DVD

Spielberg's "Tiny Toon Adventures" along with the zany adventures of "Freakazoid" To DVD for The First Time Ever in July 2008!

Warner Home Video (WHV) brings the hit, hilarious animated television series Tiny Toon Adventures along with Freakazoid to DVD on July 29th, 2008. Tiny Toon Adventures, Season 1, Volume 1 will feature 35 episodes and bonus material on a 4-Disc Set, which will retail for around $44.98(SRP). Freakazoid!: The Complete First Season will showcase 14 episodes on a 2-Disc set and will retail around $26.99(SRP).

"Tiny Toon Adventures and Freakazoid! were both original, funny, refreshing and ahead of their time."said Amit Desal, WHV Vice President of family Animation and Sports Marketing. He added, "Both series combined edgy comedic writing with vibrant animation that captured a wide range of audiences. We are delighted to add these two new titles to our animation library and believe they will received by consumers."

Tiny Toon Adventures: Season 1, Volume 1

DvD Information/Details:

Released by: Warner Home Video
Run Time: N/A
Encoding: Region One
Category: Animation, TV/Television, Series, Box Set.
Audio: English (Dolby Digital Stereo)
Subtitle(s): English
DvD SRP: $44.98
Release Date: July 29, 2008
DvD Aspect Ratio: Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

DvD Rating: PG.

DvD Features/Extras:

* Includes all 35 episodes from the first Season on a 4-Disc Set.

- The Loney Beginning.
- A Quack in the Quarks.
- The Wheel O' Comedy.
- Test Stress.
- The Buster Bunny Bunch.
- Her Wacky Highness.
- Hollywood Plucky.
- Journey to the Center of Acme Acres.

- It's Buster Bunny Time!
- Stuff That Goes Bump in the Night.
- Looking Out for the Little Guy.
- Starting From Scratch.
- Citizen Max.
- Hare Raising Night.
- Furrball Follies.
- The Acme Acres Zone.

- Life in the 1990's
- Rock 'N Roar.
- Prom-ise Her Anything.
- Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow.
- Cinemaniacs.
- You Asked for It!
- Gang Busters.
- Wake Up Call of the Wild.

**** DISC FOUR: (Side One):
- Buster and the Wolverine.
- You Asked for IT! (Part 2).
- Europe in 30 Minutes.
- The Wacko World of Sports
- Rainy Daze.
- Fields of Honey.
- Sawdust and Toonsil.
- Spring in Acme Acres.

**** DISC FOUR: (Side Two):
- Psychic Fun-Omenon Day.
- The Wide World of Elmyra.
- A Ditch in Time.
- From Wacky Tunes to Tiny Toons: A Looney Evolution.

DvD Synopsis:

**** Season 1 volume 1 of Steven Spielberg's Tiny Toon Adventures featuring Babs and Buster Bunny, Plucky Duck, Gogo Dodo, Hamton J. Pig, Elmyra, Dizzy Devil, and many more.

Freakazoid! Season 1

DvD Information/Details:

Released By: Warner Brothers Home Video
Run Time: N/A
Encoding: Region 1
Category: Animation, TV/Television, Series.
Audio: English (dobly Stereo)
Subtitle(s): English & Spanish
DvD SRP: $19.98
Release Date: July 29th, 2008
DvD Aspect Ratio: Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1
DvD Rating: TV-PG13+.

DvD Features/Extras:

* Includes 14 episodes from season 1 on a 2-disc set.

* Disc One:
1. Dance of Doom.
2. Candle Jack.
3. The Sewer Rescue.
4. And a Fan Boy Is His Name.
5. Office Visit.
6. Freakazoid is History.

** Disc 2 - Side 1:
7. The Chip (Part 1).
8. The Chip (Part 2).
9. Hot Rods From Heck!
10. Relax-O-Vision.
11. In Arms Way.
12. Next Time, Phone Ahead.

** Disc 2 - Side 2:
13. House of Freakazoid!
14. The Wrath of Guitierrez.

DvD Synopsis:

**** The complete first season of Spielberg's Freakazoid!, the 1995 animated series starring Paul Rugg as D.C. defender name FREAKAZOID!

Bolt vs. Hercules Posters

Celbi Pegoraro noticed on his blog that the poster for Disney’s upcoming Bolt bears a striking resemblance to the thunderbolt poster designs of Disney’s Hercules.

(thanks cartoonbrew)

Transformers Sequel Drops the "2"

While it was previously "announced" as "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen," Superhero Hype! has learned that DreamWorks/Paramount has opted to make it Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen instead.

In related news, Jalopnik has posted spy photos of the new Bumblebee (the 2010 Chevy Camaro Z28) as well as an unknown Corvette concept.

Filming is currently taking place at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia for a June 26, 2009 release.

The Michael Bay-directed film stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Isabel Lucas and Rainn Wilson.

More Stan Winston tributes...

The Stan Winston tributes keep coming @ aintitcoolnews...

Hello guys,

Thank you first of all for allowing a forum for those of us that were close to Stan to share our thoughts and memories of him.

I will always remember one time in the jungles of Costa Rica, when we were filming “Congo”. Our crew was tired and wet. Stan came into our tent with a child of one of the producers or actors or crew, I don’t remember who’s child she was. He asked us to do a show and tell of “Amy” and the other animatronic gorilla heads for her. We were to “fire up” the servo driven heads and move around the eyes and brows, make the lips snarl, smile and roar, like we had done for countless others over the previous months. Weeks of long shoot days had made us cynical and tired, we grumbled to ourselves as we set up for the show and tell. I listened to him talking to the little girl as we worked. He told her that “she was a very lucky little girl, because not many people in the world had a chance to see what he was about to show her”. While the memory of the show and tell faded with the years, the memory of that statement and the joy that he brought to that little girl has stayed with me for years. She giggled with wide eyes when we made the gorillas come to life. Stan showed off his creations like the showman that he was, with joy and pride. He loved sharing his work and his art and he loved how making his creations come to life could amaze and inspire people. He joked how he “didn’t do anything anymore”, that his crew did all the work and that he was going to take all the credit for it anyway. But he never did, he always gave us credit.

I had the extreme good fortune to sit with Stan last week before he died. He had been very ill and been weakened by the disease that was ravaging his body, but he had recently left the hospital in good spirits and was enjoying being home with his family. He hadn’t been taking visitors, but was having a good day, so Lindsay Macgowan and I went to see him. We sat with him and talked about the studio, the crew, our most recent projects, our upcoming ones, and our soon to be new partnership with him. He was excited to hear about the shop, and the work and the industry in general. He had recently seen Iron Man in the theater. He was very proud of the work we had done on that film and was so happy that it was such a good film. It would end up being the last film he went to. He was his old self that day. The same Stan, lively and joking with us. The same Stan that you’ve read about in everyone else’s letters. After a while the room fell quiet. The only noise was the hum of his dialysis machine and the quiet din of the Laker game playing on the TV in the background. Not wanting to overstay our welcome, we stood up. “Well, we better let you get some rest Stan” we said. Stan looked at us and replied “Why don’t you hang for a while?” We sat with Stan that night for over five hours, talking about anything and everything, from old friends to his real estate conquests. With tear filled eyes we read to him some of the get well letters that others had sent him, even one from his dear friend Dick Smith. The outpouring of support was uplifting for him. He shared with us his philosophies of home and family and how it was everyone’s duty to cherish their families. It was a touching time for Lindsay and I to laugh and talk with him. In all my years with Stan, I don’t remember ever talking with him for so long.

That was the last time I saw Stan. I will cherish those hours with him most of all. His words from the jungles of Costa Rica from so many years ago echo in my mind. While “Not many people in the world” got to work with Stan, millions have been affected by him and have been inspired by him and the characters he created and the films that he worked on. I feel lucky, like that little child in Costa Rica, that I was one of the fortunate few that had a chance to see into his world, to share the creative process with him and to be directly inspired by him. Very few people in the world get to make a living doing what they truly love to do. Stan did, and he inspired all of those around him to also do what they truly love to do, to live their dream jobs and to live their dream lives. Stan always encouraged everyone to push to excel, to not be afraid to fail and to strive for perfection. He took jobs not knowing how on earth he was going to finish them, but he always had the confidence that together, as a team, as a family, we would figure it out. We always did. Thank you Stan.

J Alan Scott
Animatronic Effects Supervisor
Stan Winston Studio

This one is from Richard Landon - a lifer at Stan Winston Studio...

Hello all,

This is really difficult to write, but I feel the need to add to all the wonderful things already said about the passing of Stan Winston. I am one of the three lucky three guys Stan always referred to as his "Lifers". Some didn't like the term because it felt like an exclusion because no matter how long they worked there - they couldn't make it into that old phrase of his. Funny enough - we jokingly referred to it as something that sounded more like a prison term. We said sometimes "that will teach us to do a good job - yikes!" The truth is that it was just another term of endearment Stan used for us. He had a lot of offbeat ways of showing his affections - a quick tap in the groin, playing with your food if you weren't looking, shouting Jerry Lewis impersonations as the right time to make you jump out of your skin. But all were in kindness and with a familial affection. He was a father figure, a mentor, a friend and a darn good boss. I truly am blessed for having known him and for being close enough to Karen, Matt , and Debbie to be invited to weddings, and even build fun little "G-job" gadgets for his cars and for the house that he thought up and didn't exist in the commercial world.

I have tons of memories and anecdotes to keep me smiling through the initial pain of losing Stan - ask anyone at the shop because I have been telling lots of them in the last week. I got to travel the world with Stan and share a lot with him in places like Italy, Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, we got to visit England twice! He even opened his house to me when I couldn't find a place to stay in London right away the first time (we were working long hours from the beginning on Aliens). He understood that I didn't want to be stuck in a hotel. He also probably understood that we had come a long way from home and that was my first really big location shoot. He understood a lot of things. His training was in acting and Makeup, but he would come up with the most fantastic mechanical ideas. Even though he said "I don't know how you are going to build what I want" - I beg to differ. He knew exactly what was the right thing in any design. The T-Rex telemetry deice was his idea - now a standard, but new for its time. He also had me prototype an actor-driven makeup device that was a very personal idea and I was proud when he said I had it right. Sculptural form, mechanical design, color and finish, he got all of it. The industry has lost an all encompassing visionary who happened to be a great person too.

I don't want to ramble on so I will close by saying "Thank You" for letting his Studio family, real family, and huge list of friends say goodbye to him this way. It means a lot - but he meant a lot to us all in so many ways. He went way too soon, but if the sign of a great entertainer is to "leave 'em wanting more" he certainly did.

Goodbye Stan - we love you,

Richard Landon

Quint back again. We have a new insight from one of Stan's ex-foam runners, Lance Gilmer. These Stan Winston Studios' Christmas Parties are starting to become things of legend. Just wait until you read what Mr. Gilmer and all the other employees got that... well, wait to be extremely jealous!

Dear Quint:

I was a foam runner for Stan from 1995-1998 and I'd like to share with you a recollection to possibly post...

In June of 1995, John Rosengrant and Stan had the courage to hire a kid who only had about 10 months experience in the special makeup effects field. I didn't have a lot to offer except a burgeoning interest in running foam (creating the skins/prosthetics that go over puppets and actors). For about three years, we worked long and hard and each day I learned something new. From "The Island of Dr. Moreau" to "The Relic", "The Ghost and the Darkness" and even "Lost World: Jurassic Park" (which was THE HIGHLIGHT for me, having seen the first "Jurassic Park" umpteen times and reading all about the effects work, Stan's work in particular), I never dreamed I'd be working for and with so many talented artists and technicians.

I remember Stan's generosity above all. His Christmas parties and gifts are something I still cherish in my heart and I'll never let go of that excellent TERMINATOR ENDOSKULL he gave out Christmas 1996--it was a casting from the original "Terminator" skull, all chromed and tricked out with eyes that light up. It's the envy of my two boys and they'll never get it. NEVER!

Stan would stop by the foam room from time to time and when I told him my wife and I were thinking of buying a house, he told me to do it and ASAP. He gave me advice on real estate, what to look for in a house, how to bargain with the seller--all that stuff. We bought that house 12 years ago and, man, am I glad I listened to him (and my wife). It's worth a lot more than we paid for it, even in today's economic climate.

Towards the end of the summer of 1998, there was an unfortunate need to do a layoff and sadly, I was a part of that. But what a ride. I had studio medical benefits for my family, an employer-matching 401k, vacation/sick time--all the perks we all seem to take for granted, but this kind of generosity, frankly, is unheard of in that field. I was extremely sorry to leave.

Since those days, I've transitioned to post production, making DVDs, but not one day has gone by that I don't think of my time there. I was a very young man when I walked into that place and when I left, I like to think I matured.

I attribute all of this to Stan and the fine folks at his studio. I thank each and every one of them for that unique experience. Not a lot of people can say they've worked for Stan Winston.

I have, and I'm all the better for it.

Thanks for letting me ramble,

Lance Gilmer
Former Foam Runner
Stan Winston Studio c. 1995-1998

More Wall-E clips, Watercolors for sale and a New Pixar short has posted six film clips and a new featurette from Pixar’s upcoming film WALL-E. Be warned of the possible spoilers. Directed by Andrew Stanton, Wall-E hits theatres on June 27.

In addition, UpcomingPixar also shares a Sanders Art Studio link featuring six promotional concept art prints from Wall-E for sale.

UpcomingPixar has also posted some information on the next Pixar short film Burn-E, which will appear as an extra on the Wall-E DVD.

Directed by Andrew Stanton, Wall-E opens nationwide June 27.

Watership Down deluxe edition DVD in October

DVDActive reports that Warner Home Video has announced a deluxe edition dvd of the 1978 movie Watership Down on October 7. Full details are yet to be revealed but the 30th Anniversary release will include featurettes, and a storyboard comparison.

Photographer Takes on the Iron Man in Lawsuit

Did Marvel and Paramount try to turn the tables on a paparazzi's by using his illicit photo from the set of 'Iron Man' as a background element in the movie?

That's the contention here of freelance photographer Ronnie Adams, who filed a lawsuit last week in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. The suit accuses Marvel and Paramount, the studios that produced and distributed 'Iron Man', of unlawfully infringing Adams's copyright and engaging in unfair competition.

The photo, which appeared online on, was apparently later seen in a scene from the film in which Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark reads a newspaper which has a front-page story about the armored avenger.

Segal on 'Shazam' delays and the uniqueness of the project chatted up director Peter Segal about his new movie 'Get Smart'. They also got him talking about the comic-to-film 'Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam':


Q: Do you have any updates on Shazam! since we last talked?

Not a lot has happened since I spoke to you last. We're still working on the script. An interesting little development, but it's an annoying one, is that after a strike there are residual effects and one was that everyone who was a writer suddenly had a back log of assignments as did John August, so we started to do our re-write process but he had to service some of these other prior commitments. So now we're kind of waiting in line to get him back but it's worked out okay because we've been working on the marketing of this and getting this going, so we've been doing enough to keep ourselves busy and as soon as this movie gets released then we're going to focus again on 'Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam'.

Q: What's your feeling about the whole superhero marketplace these days?

The reason why I signed on to this knowing fully well that there was an 'Iron Man', at that time in the works, and all of these other comic book properties out there is because I still believe that 'Shazam' is unique. It's a different kind of story. It's not about science, it's not about a rich man and this is nothing against – my gosh, I adore Batman and Iron Man — but rich guys with problems inventing gadgets that help them fight crime. This is about magic, and it puts it more into a Harry Potter-esque kind of world and it – what I love also is the tone of it. It's Big meets Superman. And that's not like anything else out there. And especially now that there are some legal tangles with Superman as a property, it might be just the right time for Captain Marvel… Ooooh — I like the sound of that!

Q: I wanted to ask because the comic book genre seems to be developing in terms of every big movie these days is usually a comic book movie in some way.

Yeah, and some are good and some are not good, and it's just like TV adaptations and it turns people off before you even have your shot because someone else screwed the pooch on theirs. Who knows how Shazam! will ultimately wind up? We're just trying to get going on it, because we know – what's been fascinating to me through this past year of the early marketing of Get Smart is to find out how many fans of Shazam! are out there. When I was on Fantastic Four eight years ago, I was concerned about Fantastic Four being still relevant. Obviously it is, but because X-Men was so much younger, that I thought, 'Will kids know? Will kids care?' And of course when the first commercial for Fantastic Four came out, my son, who was then four, said 'Hey dad! It's clobbering time.' And I thought okay, guess what, he's looking forward to a comic book that was born in the 40s, so why not one born in 1939? It's not much of a difference.

Stars, relatives honor special-effects wiz Winston

Friends, relatives and show-business colleagues gathered Sunday to remember Oscar-winning special-effects maestro Stan Winston, the man responsible for bringing the dinosaurs of "Jurassic Park" and other iconic movie creatures to life.

Winston died at his home in Malibu surrounded by family June 15 after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma. He was 62.

Winston's son Matt recounted his father's last day as being filled with laughter, hugs, kisses, tears and music from the Beatles. At the end of the private memorial service at the Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, Matt played the last song Winston heard before he died: the Beatles' "All My Loving."

Colleagues including "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau, Sigourney Weaver, Tom Arnold, Ernie Hudson and Robert Patrick joined Winston's family and friends to reminisce and listen to personal stories from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rabbi Judith Halevy, brother Ronny Winston, uncle Mitchell Karlan, son-in-law Erich Litoff, and directors James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.

"What Stan did is that he took our dreams — he took all of our dreams — and he blended them with his own dreams," Spielberg told mourners in attendance. "He then workshopped those dreams with pencil, clay and later years on the computer. He would basically give life to all of our ideas. He would make them come to life."

In a career spanning four decades, Winston created some of the most memorable visual effects in cinematic history. He helped bring the dinosaurs from "Jurassic Park," the extraterrestrials from "Aliens," the robots from "Terminator" and even "Edward Scissorhands" to the big screen. He was a pioneer in merging real-world effects with computer-generated imagery.

Winston won visual effects Oscars for 1986's "Aliens," 1992's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and 1993's "Jurassic Park." He also won a makeup Oscar for 1992's "Batman Returns." He was nominated for his work on "Heartbeeps," "Predator," "Edward Scissorhands," "Batman Returns," "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" and "A.I."

Frequent collaborator Cameron told those gathered he spoke with Winston the day before he died. Cameron said Winston expressed something that he never had before: Winston told his colleague and friend that he loved him. Cameron also let "the fans speak for Stan" by reading several messages posted after Winston's death by users such as Gatsbys West Egg Omlet, DrRavenwood, Soylent Mean and GavinVanDraven of the movie news and gossip Web site Ain't It Cool News.

"He inspired a generation of fans," Cameron said. "I think that just maybe the words of a bunch of people who didn't even know him personally may be his best tribute."

Winston's survivors include his wife, Karen; and his son, daughter, brother and four grandchildren.

Kung Fu Panda delayed in China's earthquake center

The release of DreamWorks' animated feature film "Kung Fu Panda" has been postponed in Sichuan Province to "appease the survivors" of the May 12 earthquake in the southwestern Chinese province, the Beijing News reported Friday.

"Kung Fu Panda" premiered Thursday in Beijing and was to debut across China a day later, but not in Sichuan, the paper quoted an unidentified State Administration of Radio, Film and Television official as saying.

The "market-oriented" decision was made after the province's cultural authorities consulted with local movie theaters, said the official of the state media regulator, who didn't explain further.

"As for when the film would be released in Sichuan, it should be decided by the cinemas," he said.

Paramount Pictures China, the film's distributor, and five major theaters in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, confirmed the delay, said Friday's edition of the Beijing Morning Post.

The movie houses issued a statement Thursday saying that they decided to delay the release because "some people do not comprehend the film and thus demurred at it.

"We will introduce the content and cast of the film to the public in an appropriate manner before showing it," the statement said.

Meanwhile, posters on China's Internet bulletin boards argued whether the cartoon comedy should be boycotted. Some contended that it "snatched the necklaces and watches from the corpses of disaster victims."

An artist named Zhao Bandi led the protest, charging that the DreamWorks film has been "exploiting China's 'national treasure' and its martial arts."

Zhao and two co-signers filed a formal protest to SARFT. They said that others have objected to Dreamworks, as founder Steven Spielberg withdrew from his role as an advisor to the Beijing Olympics earlier this year due to concerns about China's role in Sudan.

Zhao wrote in his blog that SARFT official Zhou Baolin phoned him Thursday and assured him that the film's release was being postponed in Sichuan.

However, opinions about the postponement are sharply divided in China. Some Net posters called the decision "absurd." Others described it as "understandable."

"The film is a salute to the Chinese Kung Fu, so we should not blindly boycott it," wrote "World Famous Picture 123" on Netease Forum, one of China's most popular sites. "It has nothing to do with patriotism."

George Carlin R.I.P.

The Associated Press reports that actor, writer, and comedian Geroge Carlin was pronounced dead on Sunday from heart failure at a Santa Monica hospital, at the age of 71.

Carlin, who was famous for the infamous routine titled "seven dirty words that you can not say on television". A routine he made famous in the 70s as well as countless HBO specials. He won four Grammys, and was nominated for five Emmy Awards.

Carlin also was the narrator for the "Thomas the Tank Engine" stories on the PBS series Shining Time Station. He also played the role of Mr. Conductor replacing former Beatle Ringo Starr.

He also provided the voice of Fillmore, the hippie Volkswagon bus in the hit 2006 Disney movie Cars. The film grossed more than 200 million dollars at the box office.

Carlin also voiced the character of Rufus, an Emissary from the Future, in the animated series Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures, based on his portrayal in the live-action features Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey

Carlin was going to be the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor which was scheduled in November. Carlin's last HBO special was in 2007 and was titled, "It's Bad for Ya."


TheGeekFiles said...

Hey there - thanks for your link to my comment on the petition to keep Routh/Singer away from the next Superman. Interesting stuff wasn't it? The most divided fanbase I've ever seen. Warner needs to make an announcement on what's happening so people have something concrete to chew on.

TheGeekFiles said...

CORRECTED VERSION: Hey there - thanks for your link to my BLOG on the petition to keep Routh/Singer away from the next Superman. Interesting stuff wasn't it? The most divided fanbase I've ever seen. Warner needs to make an announcement on what's happening so people have something concrete to chew on.