Thursday, June 26, 2008

News - 06/26/08...

Video: Five minutes of 'Batman: Gotham Knight' has scored the five minutes of the new animated DVD release: 'Batman: Gotham Knight'

Wall•E articles keep flooding in

The film, which Cinema Blend calls “another winning confection from Pixar” and GFR “the perfect window for kids into a broader world of imagination and perhaps even activism”, could be “Pixar’s best movie ever” according to the New York Magazine. The Village Voice feels that “you’ll adore it because of a cuddly, lonely little robot who breaks your beeping heart.” The L.A. Times’ Envelope explains why Wall•E “needs no help to win next year’s Oscar for best animated feature” while Coming Soon posted exclusive video interviews with writer/director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), Fred Willard and Jeff Garlin. USA Today also spoke to Andrew, The Hollywood Reporter chatted it up with producer Jim Morris, and io9 discussed the movie’s retro posters with Pixar artist Eric Tan. Last but not least Upcoming Pixar offers a cool look at an inflatable Wall•E and the cute robot’s debut at the film’s world premiere.

Kung Fu Panda sequel in the works and more 2D coming

The TAG Blog reveals, according to the author, "down on the lower levels, artists are working. A story crew has started early work in Kung Fu Panda, the Sequel, even while animators are hand-drawing new material for the DVD of Kung Fu Panda", expected to be released this Fall. Comments one animator: “This has been a fun project. It should go on to late July. Then who knows? Maybe we can get on Princess and the Frog at Disney…” Back to the author... "Who says hand-drawn feature 'toons are dead? They're just hibernating.

For the first time in a while I laid eyes on a digital ink-and-paint crew hard at work on traditional animation in one of Lakeside's big rooms. The color set-ups for KFP glowing off their lcd screens knocked my garters off. They're damn pretty."

Stan Winston Tribute Added to SIGGRAPH

A tribute to the late special effects master Stan Winston, a special conversation between Disney/Pixar’s chief creative officer John Lasseter and Oscar-winning 2D animator Frederic Back and a sneak preview of Lucas Animation’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars are all part of this year’s special Studio Events program at SIGGRAPH, which takes place August 11 thru 15 in Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, August 12, Lasseter will host a rare conversation with renowned Canadian 2D animator Frederic Back, whose short films
Crac and The Man Who Planted Trees brought him the Oscar in 1982 and 1987. The program begins at 8 p.m. with a screening of The Man Who Planted Trees
at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles. An exhibit of Back’s work will also be on display at the Linwood Dunn Theater of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, located at 1313 Vine Street, L.A.

Also on tap for Tuesday is a screening of the well-received documentary, The Pixar Story, with introduction and Q&A by director Leslie Iwerks and friends.

On Wednesday, August 13, Sony Pictures Imageworks will hosts a special tribute to special effects wizard Stan Winston, which will include highlights of his many incredible achievements as well as remembrances and salutes from his many friends and colleagues in the entertainment industry. A screening of a classic Stan Winston film (to be announced later) will follow the discussion.

LucasFilm takes center stage on Thursday, August 14, with a special sneak preview presentation of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, directed by Dave Filoni and exec produced by George Lucas. The event is hosted by Oscar-winning ILM vfx artist John Knoll and will include appearances by Filoni and other special guests.

Under the supervision of SIGGRAPH 2008’s talented entertainment director Jill Smolin, the event’s popular Computer Animation Festival has expanded into a full-scale film festival that will incorporate curated and competition screenings, discussion panels with filmmakers/artists/producers and an awards program. In addition, the Computer Animation Festival will be more accessible to the general public than previous years. Other highlights include a special two-day progam focusing on the brave, new world of 3-D stereoscopy, put together by Sony Imageworks’ senior stereographer and digital effects supervisor Rob Engle (Beowulf, Monster House, Open Season).For more info about this year’s lineup of events, visit

Why Nobody Wants To Watch Sony’s Features

According to Steve Hulett of the animation union Local 839, the execs at Sony are perplexed about why their films (Open Season, Surf’s Up) are underperforming at the box office:

“[Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment] Amy Pascal asked animation executives why Pixar movies were doing so well and Sony Pictures Animation’s weren’t. This was a few months ago. A couple of the story artists who’d worked at other studios wrote up a little paper about what some other feature studios did, how they approached things. They passed it on to Penny and Sandy before those two left. Whether the paper got into Amy Pascal’s hands or not, I’ve got no idea …”

Of course, Pascal is the executive whose suggestion for improving Surf’s Up was to add “more poop,” but besides the obvious cluelessness, their problems can be boiled down to the lack of one key element in their films: vision. The films Sony produces, like those of many other studios, are filmmaking by committee. They have no coherent vision, voice or reason supporting them. They borrow a piece from Pixar, a bit from DreamWorks, and the result is a cobbled-together half-baked Frankenstein idea.

As much as I cringe at the DreamWorks animated features, I have to give credit to Jeffrey Katzenberg for sticking with an original and singular vision for the type of films his studio produces. For what it’s worth, he established the crass humor, celebrity-driven, parodic CGI style with Shrek in 2001. Look at the animated features that were released prior to Shrek and one doesn’t find a whole lot of similar films, though elements of this style were budding in Katzenberg’s Disney-era features. Katzenberg succeeded by doing something original that nobody else in animation was doing at the time, the very same thing that Pixar had done a few years earlier, with the primary difference being that Pixar’s formula was based on a foundation of artistic and narrative integrity.

Sony, on the other hand, seems to be headed down the same doomed path of Fox and Warner Bros. circa mid-’90s: copying the formulas of more successful studios with slight variations on their themes. There have been plenty of shake-ups at Sony Feature Animation in recent months, but I’ve yet to hear of anybody taking over their animation division who might encourage a shift towards an original direction.

(thanks cartoonbrew)

Kung Fu Panda Writer Can’t Stand Katzenberg

Dan Harmon, one of the writers of Kung Pu Panda, has written an entertainingly long rant about how much he disliked working on the film and particularly how much he disliked working with Jeffrey Katzenberg. Actually I’m not sure what’s more amusing: that Harmon hated working with Katzenberg so much or that he’s so damn clueless about the animation process. To begin the piece, Harmon expresses incredulity that some animated films are written with storyboards and not scripts: “First they storyboard the entire film. That is the first step. Not kidding. No writers, no script, just a story, and an entire film drawn on pieces of paper.”

Here’s another choice excerpt:

“I came in about four writers into the process. It’s kind of hard to write a “better” scene than the last writer when the rules are that you can only change 30 percent of each scene or completely change 30 percent of the scenes, per Katzenberg screening. So, for instance, in this scene, the panda comes up a flight of stairs carrying a bucket of water, slips on a banana peel, says something to two geese and does an air guitar. The good news? There can be anything in the bucket. Your mission: make the movie better.

“It’s harder than it sounds. Especially when the larger “bucket” that the movie is contained in cannot change: the fact that the story has to be about a panda who is informed he is the chosen one, destined to …beat up… a guy who has escaped from prison and who is spending the entire movie walking to town, in order to…try to beat him up, because that’s the prophecy. And I won’t spoil the movie, but the bad guy doesn’t win. Because he’s not destined to. But just to make sure he doesn’t win, and because there’s 70 minutes of time to kill before he gets there on foot, the panda is trained in the martial arts. it’s kind of like Karate Kid, but if Mister Miyogi had long ago banished the Kobras and was running the karate tournament.”

(thanks cartoonbrew)

Ratatouille and Enchanted grab Saturn awards

Disney won big at last night’s Saturn Awards as the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror presented three trophies to Enchanted (best Fantasy Film, Actress for Amy Adams, and Music for Alan Menken) while Ratatouille won for best Writing and unsurprisingly beat Beowulf, Meet the Robinsons, Shrek the Third, The Simpsons Movie and Surf’s Up in the Animated Film category.

'Dark Knight' runs long

Hollywood Elsewhere reports that a non-USA exhibition source revealed that 'The Dark Knight''s running time has been confirmed at 152 minutes.

Brandon Routh says 'Man of Steel' films next year

Actor Brandon Routh speculates that 'The Man of Steel' will start filming in 2009.

"I think it seems as though [the 'Justice League' movie is] not happening, it's on the back burner right now so it's just 'Man of Steel' now," Routh told"I know, they're busy writing a script and then I trust we'll be starting next year, early next year. That's my timeline anyway."

Watch the New Wolverine and the X-Men Trailer

See the three-part pilot at San Diego Comic-Con


"WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN" marks the return of Marvel's most Uncanny mutant heroes to the small screen and in 2009 the first 26 episodes of this new saga will begin airing on NICKTOONS.

Here's a brief description of this epic new action adventure series:

"When an explosive event shatters the lives of the X-Men and takes away their mentor, the beaten heroes walk away from it all.

Emma Frost and Cerebro

But then they're given a rare glimpse into the future, and see a world in utter ruin, ruled by mutant hunting Sentinels. A world that spiraled out of control because the X-Men had given up.

So now the most legendary of all X-Men takes the lead - Wolverine! Reuniting these broken heroes, Wolverine embarks on the ultimate mission - to prevent the world's destruction.

To rescue us from ourselves. To save the future."


Although, we are still months away from its Nicktoons television d├ębut, you can be the first to see the three-part pilot of Wolverine and the X-Men at the SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON.

Come meet SUPERVISING PRODUCER CRAIG KYLE, HEAD WRITER GREG JOHNSON and others involved with this Astonishing new X-Men series on SATURDAY at 8:30PM PT in Room 6CDEF.


Find out why Wolverine was chosen to lead the team and discover what's in store for Marvel's most famous mutants.

Be sure to come back to to find out the latest Comic-Con related news and sneak peeks.


Don't miss next Monday's Marvel Animation update when we'll have all the details on how you can see Marvel's fifth animated feature release "Next Avengers: Heroes Of Tomorrow" before its September 2nd DVD and Blu-Ray Release.

Batman: Gotham Knight
An Interview with Gary Dourdan

After eight seasons on TV’s CSI, Gary Dourdan may be saying goodbye to his character Warrick Brown. When last seen, his character’s fate left to die on the last season (Season 8), and fans are not sure if Dourdan will be back next season. Either way, Dourdan is already moving on to the next phase of his career, which includes more films, and following up on his music. First up for Dourdan is a voiceover role in the animated film, ‘Batman: Gotham Knight’.

‘Batman: Gotham Knight’ is a 2008 animated direct-to-DVD anthology film of six animated short films set in-between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The film uses a Japanese anime style for the animation. His role is the first animated appearance of Crispus Allen. His character was made famous in DC Comics' Gotham Central comics series (although his first appearance dates back to Detective Comics). Crispus Allen shows up in three different segments of the six-segment film, Batman: Gotham Knight.

In speaking exclusively to, Dourdan talks about what attracted him to the project, his status on
CSI, and his upcoming horror film.

What attracted you to do the voice character of Crispus Allen?

Gary Dourdan:
What got me to do this character was the project, the animation. I always wanted to do more animation voiceover stuff, so the opportunity came along and I jumped on it. Plus, it’s a Batman project so how could I say no.

Did you go after this or did they come after you?

They came to me. I was very flattered that they wanted me to do the voiceover. The animation on this is great. When I did ‘Alien: Resurrection’, a lot of the guys worked on planned production, and one of them was really into comic books and would draw all sorts of characters and I was impressed with his sketches.

How much did you know about the character you were playing?

I didn’t know much. When I read the script and saw what they were doing, and I wasn’t familiar with the way they had the story, but I was pleased with what they had installed for me to do.

When Crispus first appears in ‘Crossfire’, he seems indifferent to the positive reaction that Batman has been receiving. Why do you suppose that’s the case?

The reason he acts that way is because he’s not sure which side Batman is really on. If he’s on the side of the law or the opposite, but eventually the two come to an understanding of one another.

Did you go back to the comic books to get a background on who Crispus is?

No, I didn’t actually. Everything was happening so fast and when they told me about this project, by the time they got me the material, it was time to start taping my scenes. From reading the script, I got a sense of who he is.

How is it voicing a character as oppose to shooting a scene? Is the work a bit easier?

I have done other voiceovers and it also depends on the project. This one was actually cool because we did it to the anime, and it was something new for me. Putting my voice to their picture was something new for them as well. It was interesting watching these guys put sketches to my voice. I can’t imagine how Sam Jackson did it with ‘Afro Samurai’, but it’s not easy I can you tell that.

With you having the time to do this, Carol Mendelson, one of the producers on ‘CSI’ had mentioned that all the cast members would be back at the start of Season 9. With your character being shot in last scene of Season 8, will you be coming back next year?

You will have to ask Carol. I really have no answer to that question.

Are you looking to move on to a new phase of your career?

I’m always looking to different work. It doesn’t matter so much where the project is so long as it is good work.

What keeps you grounded?

First of all, my daughter and my son, and playing music.

What do you have coming up next?

I’m about to do a film in France called ‘Blackjack’, a cross between a war film and a horror film. My character is a serviceman who goes in a French village and has to fight off zombies who were exposed to some chemical warfare.

Are you confirmed to be participating in ‘Celebrity Rehab’ as reported on various places on the web such as IMDB?

For the record, contrary to what’s written on the web, I will not be any celebrity rehab. That’s completely false.

Why should anyone pick up ‘Batman: Gotham Knight’?

It’s a good experience to watch. The movies haven’t been bad and neither have been the Saturday morning cartoons. If you have been a fan of anyone of these, then you will enjoy watching these segments in different styles. The art form is just amazing.

Batman Gotham Knight hits DVD stores on July 8th, 2008.

'Wanted' director Timur Bekmambetov talks F/X and what's next

In Part One of our interview with Timur Bekmambetov, the director talked about the importance of his new film 'Wanted' being grounded by a relatable actor like James McAvoy.

In this installment Bekmambetov talks about the role special effects play in the the film, and then shares what's next for him as a filmmaker.

Timur told us that his intent was to ensure that any special effects in the film forwarded the trajectory of the story.

"We have to explain the cool shots. All the special effects, all the visual effects is part of the story telling. You don't feel the CG or the effects because it just helps you follow the story and these characters and to help you understand what happens to him."

Timur has a firm grasp on story telling and the action genre. What are his inspirations?

"Computer games, a lot…in general they are the same. I don't really think about it to tell you the truth… I like action films like 'Terminator 2'. Everything, any movie that I saw influenced me like 'Bad Boys 2' or 'Matrix'."

The biggest challenge for Timur was to simply finish the film. "It's a long process that takes two years. Sometimes you have to say to yourself it doesn't matter what will happen you have to finish it. The challenge was to feel what it is like to be an American boy/man sitting in the office, to be Wesley.

"That was the most important for me. Also to judge everything, how much action, is it real or not? Do we need sex between Wesley and Fox? Everything has to be judged from the point of view of this particular character. The pleasure of the project was having a great team, to be able to mix my Russian team with American team. It was very very important for me. It was very very organic process how we worked together."

Timur has a lot of projects he is currently developing, but for fans of the 'Night Watch' and 'Day Watch' movies, 'Twilight Watch' (the third and what should be the final movie in the trilogy) may not come to fruition.

"I don't know what will happen with this project. For me 'Wanted' took its place. 'Wanted' became an American version of the 'Night Watch' trilogy. I don't know what I can add or make it different. I have a lot of projects in development.

"As a producer I am working on a project with Tim Burton called '9', it's animation. We will finish it this September. I have in development a project called 'Knight Templar' about vampires looking for the Holy Grail and also a very interesting script called 'The Red Star' based on the comic book. It's my dream project. It's something between 'Star Wars' and 'Dr. Zhivago'.

"I am developing a project with Rogue, a lot of projects in development. The next project I will shoot, I cannot tell a lot. We will announce it in a week or two. It is a unique project where I found a new type of martial arts. I had an idea about a new type of martial arts, in a new world."

Is there a 'Wanted 2' in Timur's future? "The audience will make a decision. If the audience decides we would figure out how to do it. I am sure we have a lot of possibilities."

You can check out Wanted when it hits theaters on June 27th.

Del Toro Talks Hobbit

Guillermo del Toro, who is set to direct a pair of films adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, told SCI FI Wire that he wants the films to recreate the spirit of the books.

"I'm trying to be faithful," del Toro said in an interview after accepting the George Pal Memorial Award at the Saturn Awards in Universal City, Calif., on June 24. "Like, when I was trying to create a screenplay about Tarzan and people asked me, 'Is it going to be horror?' I said, 'No, no, no.' The thing is, I'm trying to recreate on the screen the feeling I had when I was 11 in my bed reading the book. How excited I got. How great I thought it was. That's what I'm trying to honor."

Del Toro went on to say that the film will not necessarily be similar in style to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, nor will it be like any of his own dark fantasy films such as Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth.

"I'm not trying to honor either my style or what I'm gravitating normally towards," del Toro said. "I know that for a fact I gravitated towards the novel. So there's something there that echoes with me very strongly, which is not the case with most fantasy, in my case."

The film is scheduled to begin shooting later this year in New Zealand. Del Toro said that the film is still in the early stages of pre-conception and isn't even officially in preproduction yet. He has, however, been making regular trips to New Zealand to visit Weta Workshop, the special-effects house that will be working on the films.

"We've had chats where we sketch out what we think of the two movies, but there's no writing," del Toro said. "There is notetaking, there is breaking down the novel, there is a lot of work already being done on our parts, but real preproduction will not start until late July."

Del Toro added that the film will take up most of his time and energy until the end of the year, so he will be putting all of his other projects on hold for the time being.

"The news came very joyously during the post-production of
Hellboy II," he said. "But at the same time, it was the most miraculous and beautiful monkey wrench in a lot of things that we were planning, both in life plans that I have to put to bed from now until December in order to become celibate and dedicate my entire energy to The Hobbit."

Del Toro's latest film,
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
opens July 11.

How DC Can Use Superman: The Man of Steel to Catch Up to Marvel

Nick Nadel's column examines the increasingly busy intersection between comic books and the movies.

Warner Bros. must be looking very closely at The Incredible Hulk right now. A major comic book franchise that transformed from an audience-alienating debacle into a fast-paced summer blockbuster? No doubt they're thinking: If Hulk can bounce back from portentous dialogue and mutant dogs, why not Superman? Though a critical and box office success, Superman Returns was seen as a disappointment by fans hoping for more action, and less moping about Lois. While Bryan Singer and Brandon Routh are still attached to the sequel (Superman: The Man of Steel), there is talk of following The Incredible Hulk's lead and starting from scratch. (A fan petition wants to take it a step further -- to reboot the franchise sans Routh and Singer.) Here are a few suggestions on how Superman can return with dignity.

Let the Big Guy Crack a Smile
Superman is 70 years old and there are a number of seriously creaky concepts floating around in his world. Namely, that the Daily Planet's ace reporter (along with everyone else) can't see that Clark Kent is actually Superman behind those thick glasses. Also, the idea that Clark even still works at a newspaper is pretty outdated. (See, kids, papers are where folks got their news before Google.) None of the basics have to be jettisoned, of course, but they should be playfully tweaked. Richard Donner injected a good amount of tongue-in-cheek humor into Superman, playing to the strengths of the quick-witted Christopher Reeve. Reeve also lent a dash of mocking irony to the character, letting the audience know that it was okay to laugh at a grown man wearing blue tights. Any Superman film that hopes to connect today's audience should follow in Reeve's iconic footsteps.

More Giant Robots, Fewer Super Kids
If Singer does return to the franchise, he could earn geek points by introducing evil robot Brainiac as a foil for the Big Blue. Outside of Superman IV's hopelessly dated Nuclear Man, Lex Luthor has been the primary villain in the Superman films. It's well past time for some new blood. How about looking to the action-heavy Fleischer Brothers cartoons of the 1940s for inspiration? After all, they did feature their fair share of giant robots and mad scientists. And what say we just ignore Clark and Lois's little "super tyke?" No one wants the franchise to turn into the adventures of Superboy and Krypto the Supermutt.

(Brain) Trust the Comic Book Writers
There's a reason why Iron Man so closely resembled the Marvel Comics universe: Its writers consulted on the film. Jon Favreau and Iron Man producer Kevin Feige enlisted a secret brain trust of Marvel staffers (including fan favorites, writers Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis) to help keep them on track. Seeking advice from ace Superman writers like Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek would not only please fickle fanboys, it would also make for a richer and more faithful adaptation.

The Flash: Available for Cameos, Bar Mitzvahs
Iron Man is the launching point for 2011's Avengers, and Tony Stark's cameo in The Incredible Hulk helped dilute the early negative buzz surrounding that film. Ergo, The Man of Steel should be a springboard for a Justice League franchise. Imagine hothead Flash challenging Big Blue to a friendly race in a bonus scene after the credits role on Man of Steel. Perhaps the race is continued in a Flash film (which needs to get off the ground yesterday) and then called back in a future Justice League movie. And if for some reason Flash isn't available, there's always...

Batman Vs. Superman
The idea of pitting the two legends against each other has been kicking around for years. (At one point Wolfgang Petersen was attached to a version penned by Seven's Andrew Kevin Walker.) There isn't a single red-blooded comic book fan alive who wouldn't pay to see this titanic tussle on the big screen. So if all else fails, appeal to the basest of geek impulses and dump a couple hundred million dollars into Bats and Supes wailing on each other for two hours -- sure beats endless scenes of Brandon Routh making puppy dog eyes at Kate Bosworth.

Disney and the environment

Regarding the environmental undertones of Wall•E, an article on O-Meon examines the efforts (and in some cases, lack of effort) of the Disney company to conserve energy and resources. The story notes the absence of any significant solar power use in Disney’s theme parks as well as the large vehicles driven during the premier of Wall•E . However, successful energy-saving programs are also mentioned, including Disney’s “Stride for Five”, which was praised for conserving a very large amount of electricity.

Origami Wall•E

First came the Lego version of Wall•E; now artist Brian Chan has created an Origami rendition of the little rusty robot. The piece, which was created from an uncut square of paper, can be seen on Chan’s website. The site also includes a template for those interested in creating their own Origami Wall•E. Pixar’s sci-fi flick hits theaters on Friday.

Wanna Know Who Stars In DC’s Wonder Woman DVD Movie??

On the “Batman: Gotham Knight” DVD due in two weeks, there’s a 10-minute featurette on the upcoming animated Wonder Woman DVD movie directed by Lauren Montgomery (“Superman Doomsday”) and based on the 1987 George Perez relaunch that pitted the Amazon princess against god of war Ares.

It’s been known for a few months (but not widely publicized) who landed the roles of Diana of Themyscira and Steve Trevor, but the featurette fills us in on three more key roles:

Keri Russell: Princess Diana
Nathan Fillion: Steve Trevor
Alfred Molina: Ares
Virginia Madsen: Hippolyta
Rosario Dawson: Artemis

Fans of the old Lynda Carter show know Steve is Diana’s flyboy love interest; Hippolyta is queen of the Amazons and Diana’s mom. Artemis is the Amazon who threatens to castrate Steve if he comes “within five yards” of Diana.

The featurette also reveals that the project’s writer is Michael Jelenic, whose credits include “The Batman” and “Legion of Super Heroes” Saturday-morning TV shows.

Batman: The Animated Series - EMA Report: TAS Getting Complete Series Release Later This Year

Coming later this year in a nice-looking package, reports site founder/webmaster Gord Lacey is at the EMA show in Las Vegas this week, and while there, he spotted an upcoming DVD release titled Batman: The Animated Series - The Complete Series. Yup, he spotted that title on a mock-up box. He describes the box as 'longer than it is wide' (similar in shape to The O.C. - The Complete Series, but apparently NOT put together the same way that package is), and the "book" slides into a plastic slip cover. Gord described it as a very nice set, and one that fans will want on their shelves. He attempted to take a picture of this, but unfortunately the glass case that the mock-up is under got in the way (glare).

There were no details to accompany the mock-up, so we're not sure if this is just for "TAS" proper, or if it includes 1997's "Batman: Gotham Knights" as well (probably included), or if it also includes the theatrical and direct-to-video such as 1993's Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, 1998's Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, and 2003's Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (these are probably not included, we would guess...but then again maybe: we simply don't know yet how "complete" Warner might mean!). No release date or pricing was available yet, either, but stay tuned and we'll try to find out more!

How the SAG may impact Comic-Con hypothesizes that the impending SAG strike, which could come at the end of this month if a contract settlement isn't reached, could have an adverse impact onJuly's Comic-Con in San Diego.

Namely if the actors are on strike, they won't be coming down to the world's biggest media event to promote their films. Collider suggests this would "ruin" the event.

However, there are a great many folks in the actual comics industry who feel San Diego Comic-Con has lost the essence of what it once was -- a great gathering of comics talent and aficionados -- and been transformed into a film and video game industry trade show.

For those people, fewer Hollywood types might bring some emphasis back to the enjoyment of comics for comics sake.

Via Aintitcoolnews...

Spielberg remembers Stan Winston

Hey folks, Harry here... Us guys at AICN have worked our hardest to give the sort of tribute to Stan Winston that we felt strongly - that he deserved. The initial AICN Tribute page has been pushed down - it's now a week and a half since his passing - but when I received this correspondence from Steven Spielberg - well - How can I not share the fond rememberance of the great beard himself. Here's Spielberg...

Stan Winston never failed to make me laugh and his timing was impeccable. He’d wait like a big game hunter for all the signs to point toward a guaranteed kill. From a great distance, he’d follow my tracks onto the set. He’d check the prevailing winds for stress and chaos, a common combo on all special effects movies. He’d make sure he was out of sight of his quarry while he prepared. Then, just as he’d observe me about to lose my mind, he’d call out my name and when I turned, there he’d be, sitting in my director’s chair, having his haircut, his nails manicured, and smoking a cigar while reading Variety. And that killed! We’d both start howling, laughing like brothers all the way to the bank and back for more. I adored that man. We made each other feel like Willis O’Brien. The dinosaurs he and his shop designed, built, and made real, were natural wonders that seem to be in short supply these days. Like the dinosaurs of the Jurassic period succumbing to extinction, they have been replaced by digital wonders that are actualized months after cast and crew have gone home or onto other pictures.

It’s so much harder getting performances from actors when the principal nemeses are two grips holding 15-foot poles with Day Glo tape at different intervals. Joey Mazzello and Ariana Richards were crazy scared on Jurassic Park when Stan’s T-Rex lowered his softball-sized eye right into the window of their Ford Explorer to scope them out. These moments were multiplied and divided amongst the cast, who had to act with a life-sized Triceratops, Brachiosaurus, Dilophosaurus, and two Velociraptors, that could even fog up a window with one powerful snort.

This was Stan’s reality. This was Stan’s art. The next time an actor has to act scared when he or she only has a wooden T-Bar to track, they will ask, along with the rest of us, “Hey, where’s Stan Winston?”

For all the years I knew Stan and worked with him, he was out in front of all the competition, creating things no one had ever seen before. And I rode his cutting edge, but it was not the kind of ride that you pay for. It was the kind of ride a friend gives you when he opens the passenger door and says, “Where do you want to go?”

Steven Spielberg

Will Paul Newman return in Cars 2?

Academy Award winner Paul Newman is battling lung cancer according to unconfirmed reports. Could this affect Pixar’s 2012 sequel, following the recent death of George Carlin who voiced Fillmore? “Well, you know, his character [Doc Hudson] is coming back,” John Lasseter told MTV News. “He’s a good friend of mine, and so we’re just waiting to see.” As for the rest of the Cars 2 gang, little is known about the story beyond the fact that it’s rumored to follow Lightning McQueen has he races his way across Europe. Lasseter himself confessed that there’s not much more to know in the moment, saying of the story that it was still in “early development.” But for people who think it’s simply a cash grab (Cars products continue to be some of the highest-selling merchandise for parent company Disney), John insists: “If you look at Toy Story 2, which is one of the stories I’m most proud of in all the pantheon of Pixar films, it’s the same thing with Cars 2. We’ve come up with a great, great story line. It’s a film I directed and created, and I’m so proud of these characters. The impact of these characters have made in families all over the world is really great. That’s why I make these films, to truly entertain an audience. So to revisit these characters, Mater and Lightning McQueen, and all the folks at Radiator Springs, I’m real excited to do that.”

2nd man convicted of killing Curious George author  

The second of two men charged in the 2006 stabbing and bludgeoning death of Alan J. Shalleck, the director and writer of over 100 Curious George cartoons, was convicted Tuesday by a West Palm Beach, Florida jury.

After about 90 minutes' deliberation, the jury found Vincent Puglisi, 56, guilty of first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon.

The sentencing phase is scheduled for July 21 and 22. Puglisi will return to court to learn if he will die by lethal injection or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Puglisi nodded his head in agreement as each of the guilty verdicts was read. He had rejected a plea bargain which would have carried a 30-year sentence.

Produced in Canada by Lafferty, Harwood and Partners, 104 five-minute Curious George episodes aired in Canada before being broadcast on Nickelodeon in 1984, then as part of Pinwheel in 1985. The series was seen on the Disney Channel in 1989 as part of Lunch Box, then again later as part of Circle Time.

Shalleck, 76, also co-wrote many Curious George books with Margret Rey, who created the mischievous monkey with her husband, H.A. Rey, over 60 years ago. The books are published by Houghton Mifflin.

Puglisi's co-defendant, Rex Ditto, 32, was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty last year to first-degree murder and robbery with a weapon. He took a plea deal that removed the death penalty as an option.

A message left for Assistant State Attorney Andy Slater by Associated Press was not returned Tuesday night, and the telephone at Assistant Public Defender Shari Vrod's office was not answered.

On Super Bowl Sunday in February 2006, Ditto and Puglisi went to Shalleck's Boynton Beach, Florida home intending to rob him. After the killing, Ditto and Puglisi stole jewelry from Shalleck and took money from his checking account, authorities said.

Shalleck's body was found covered with garbage bags on the driveway of his mobile home in an trailer park. According to an autopsy, Shalleck had 83 blunt force injuries and over three dozen stab wounds, including to the abdomen, neck and groin.

As part of a plea deal to avoid a death sentence, Ditto agreed to testify against Puglisi, his former boyfriend.

Police traced Shalleck's final hours and learned that he met his killers through a gay sex listing service. Investigators used his phone records to reach Ditto and Puglisi.

Although Shalleck's Curious George cartoons and books were successful, they did not bring him fame or riches. He did odd jobs to supplement his Social Security checks.

Slater used Tuesday's closing arguments to convinced jurors that Puglisi acted as principal to Ditto in the killing. "They were acting in concert in furtherance of the same common plan" to rob and kill Shalleck, he said.

Puglisi admitted to holding a pillow over Shalleck's face while Ditto attacked him. He also helped steal Shalleck's jewelry, watch and a checkbook.

However, the defense described Puglisi as a simple, co-dependent follower who craved another man's affection.

"Mr. Puglisi's sin was that he did absolutely nothing [to stop the killing]," Vrod said. "He stole, he lied, he covered up. He may be morally reprehensible, despicable... but that doesn't make him guilty of a murder."

Alan J. Shalleck... author of dozens of Curious George cartoon shorts and books.

Astro Boy is Coming to L.A.'s Anime Expo

Imagi Studios and Summit Entertainment will be at Anime Expo® 2008 (Booth #913 and #915) introducing its upcoming CG-animated motion picture Astro Boy. A special edition Astro Boy T-shirt will also be distributed to anime fans on a limited basis at the show which will be held July 3-6 at the Los Angeles Convention Center (Just mention sent you at the booths!).

Slated for worldwide theatrical release in 2009 from Summit Entertainment,
Astro Boy will feature the voices of Nicolas Cage, Scarlett Johansson, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Nathan Lane and Eugene Levy with Freddie Highmore in the title role. David Bowers is directing from a screenplay written by Timothy Harris, with Maryann Garger producing.

Astro Boy. was created by the "god of manga,"
Japan's Osamu Tezuka, in the early 1950s. The iconic character has since found wide popularity around the world as the hero of three acclaimed animated television series spanning over four decades, besides being one of the top licensed properties for merchandising. Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist. Our hero embarks on a journey in search of adventure in a netherworld of robot gladiators before he returns to save Metro City. Astro Boy is the second CG-animated feature film from Imagi Studios, following on the success of its 2007 box office hit, TMNT

A 300 Follow-Up in the Works? talked to producers Mark Canton, Gianni Nunnari and Bernie Goldmann, who revealed that they are working on a new Blu-ray Disc edition of 300 and... that they're trying to make a sequel/prequel! The first film's director Zack Snyder confirmed it and they said Frank Miller is working on a new story for the film. You can watch that video interview here!

The site also got a chance to talk to Guillermo del Toro, who said he'd like to do Hellboy 3 when he finishes the two "Hobbit" films. You can watch that interview here.

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