Monday, July 14, 2008

News - 07/14/08...

Hellboy II Hot At The Box Office

The "Hellboy" sequel sizzled at the weekend box office in North America, while Eddie Murphy bombed with his latest comedy, "Meet Dave," according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.

"Hellboy II: The Golden Army," starring Ron Perlman as a cigar-chomping demon who fights evil, opened at No. 1 after selling about $35.9 million worth of tickets.

The Universal Pictures release, which cost about $85 million to make, exceeded industry expectations, as well as the $23.2 million start for its 2004 predecessor, "Hellboy."

Both films were directed by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who in the interim enjoyed huge success with his 2006 fantasy thriller "Pan's Labyrinth."

The sequel becomes the third comic-book property to lead the field this summer, following "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk." But its reign will be brief, as the highly anticipated Batman sequel ""The Dark Knight" opens on Friday.


1 Hellboy II: The Golden Army - $35.9 M
2 Hancock - $33.0 M
3 Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D - $20.6 M
4 Wall-E - $18.5 M
5 Wanted- $11.6 M
6 Get Smart - $7.1 M
7 Meet Dave - $5.3 M
8 Kung Fu Panda - $4.3 M
9 Kit Kittredge: An American Girl - $2.4 M
10 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - $2.3 M

'South Park Imaginationland: The Trilogy' on Comedy Central

Preparing for the Unimaginable

What has been one of the most memorable and engaging barrages of social commentary and profusion of adolescent cursing will return to Comedy Central to once again wreak havoc on the lazy if not slumbering conscience of the American people. The three-chapter saga simply dubbed
"Imaginationland" of South Park, the cable comedy network's highest-rated television series, is scheduled to hit the airwaves once more, but this time, it'll be Director's Cut. For fans of the animated series, it's either the tale of how fragile the human mind really is, or it's just another wild and uncontrollable romp in South Park, Colorado…

When terrorists threaten to take over the imagination of the United States of America -- Imaginationland -- it's up to Stan, Kyle Cartman and the predestined Butters to save the country's mind from ultimate destruction. After all, if the terrorists claim our imagination, the place where all of the fanciful places and characters our hearts have loved for decades on end, then indeed our own sense of creativity and rationality has been consumed as well. This trilogy of episodes, to be broadcast in movie form as
South Park Imaginationland: The Trilogy, will hit the airwaves at the end of July 2008, rekindling the story's perfect storm of the absurd, the satirical, and the outright hilarious.

Featuring leprechauns, Mel Gibson, and the United States armed forces standing by with a nuclear weapon ready to destroy our imagination,
South Park Imaginationland: The Trilogy will again open up viewers' wildest dreams. Will Kyle ever make good on Cartman's bet? Will Al Gore ever prove that ManBearPig really exists? And will Butters ever come to realize that he is indeed "the one" proclaimed to be the savior of all that is imaginative?

Comedy Central has scheduled the Director's Cut version of the
"Imaginationland" trilogy, as a movie, for Sunday, July 27th at 10:00pm (ET). The presentation will air as a feature-length movie and will include previously unaired footage created especially for the movie-version.

Warner Home Video Brings Charlie Brown and Rankin-Bass on Home Video for the Holidays

Warner Home Video has announced several new holiday-themed DVDs scheduled for release on October 7, 2008, including:

A Charlie Brown Christmas Deluxe Edition
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Deluxe Edition

Rankin-Bass' Jack Frost (1979)

Bonus features have not been released for these DVDs.

In addition, a Peanuts Holiday Pack containing the deluxe editions of
It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, will go on sale on September 23, 2008, apparently two weeks before the street date of the Thanksgiving and Christmas releases. Suggested retail price of the collection is $44.76.

Another 4-disc boxed set, Classic Christmas Favorites, will street on October 7, 2008, and will include
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Year Without a Santa Claus Deluxe Edition, and Rudolph's Shiny New Year. Suggested retail price is $39.72.

Ghost in the Shell 2.0 US Bound

According to Anime News Network, animation studio Production I.G's Anime Expo panel including mention to Manga Entertainment's plans to release the updated/partially re-named and rescored Ghost in the Shell 2.0 in North America.

Production I.G. Announcements From Anime Expo

At this past weekend’s Anime Expo convention, Production I.G. announced that Manga Entertainment will distribute the Ghost in the Shell 2.0 motion picture re-release in North America. Manga Entertainment is expected to reveal detauks at San Diego Comic Con.

I.G's Takeuchi to Direct Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode

Anime News Network reports that Production I.G's Anime Expo panel revealed that the studio Maki Terashima (Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor) will direct episode 12 of Lucasfilm Animation's Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series.

Recently, Production I.G
screened the new Mamuro Oshii feature Sky Crawlers for Skywalker Sound, after the Lucasfilm contributed to the film.

Anime Expo Coverage Worth Checking Out

Anime News Network lists their summaries here
Particularly of note:
Industry Roundtable: Fansubs - The Death of Anime?

(Brack put together a counter point "death of anime" list here

keynote addresses

a geek by any other name

gia interviews...
Gen Fukunaga

Right Stuf's Shawne Kleckner

Vampire Hunter D's Hideyuki Kikuchi and Saiko Takaki


Anime on DVD interviewed Shawne Kleckner at the convention

Deb Aoki on
Anime Expo '08: Ultimate Manga Publishers Showdown

ComiPress' collected links

Publishers Weekly's
Questions Abound At Anime Expo and a sibling piece looking forward to San Diego Comic Con

Bones Refutes Sequel Revealing Leaked Animator List

Canned Dogs reports that a leaked list of animators at anime studio Bones purported to show the phone numbers and home addresses of members of the studio's staff, attached to projects that included an announced second Full Metal Alchemist series, directed by Irie Yasuhiro , and a second Darker than Black.

statement by representative director Minami Masahiko that no such document exists inside their office, and that the data and comments about the animators in the document are not from bones. However, to confuse matters, Mnemosyne director Ueda Shigeru's online diary indicated that fax yesterday from an unnamed company apologizing for the leakage of his personal data that he verifies as accurate.

In an interview after the official statement was published,
Anime News Network asked Minami about the possibility of a sequel to Full Metal Alchemist or Darker than BLACK. Minami told ANN, "It hasn't been decided yet. We are interested in doing them. As original science-fiction works, they were extremely fascinating. With these kinds of dramatic story lines, I feel that there's a lot we could do potentially."

Megumi Yokota's Story Featured in North America

Vertical notes that Patty Kim was featured on Katie Couric on Monday, to discuss "ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story", her documentary telling a Japanese student who was abducted to North Korea in 1977.

"ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story" has also been nominated for a PBS Audience Award. For details on the awards and an opportunity to vote for the documentary, see here

In addition to being the subject of three documentaries, Megumi Yokota's story has been in the manga
"Megumi", which was supervised by her parent and which is to be adapted into an anime series by the Japanese Government.

Worth Checking Out...

American Kaiju has a launched a new trailer for their American GODZILLA
'94 online graphic novel.

For those anticipating Hayao Miyazaki's
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Ghibli World presents

Part One of Christopher Butcher's
The Shape of the Manga Industry Part 1 and part two

Newsarama begins an indepth look at
Kodansha in the US manga market

The site also review Tokyo Cool's 1995
Taiyo Matsumoto interview

Episode 70 of Right Stuf's
Anime Today podcast features a look at the Tokyo Toy Show.

The Anime Pulse podcast has posted a recording of MIT professor
Ian Condry's Anime Boston panel

Boing Boing spoke to futurist
Syd Mead, whose credits include Turn A Gundam in addition to Blade Runner

Japanamerica's Ronald Kelts on
Australian radio

Daily Yomiuri looks a the manga adaptation of
Nemurenu Shinju (Sleepless Pearl)

Shokotan's new
English blog

Anime News Network's new
video section

Oshii vs Ghibli...

Speaking of Oshii, Akiyama Kobo's
45% scale recreations of the fighters from Oshii's upcoming adaptation of The Sky Crawlers.

Let's Anime revives a review of
Gulliver's Travels Beyond The Moon

Iwa ni Hana on Yamamura Kouji's
'Franz Kafka Ein Landarzt' and AniPages daily on Yamamura's A Country Doctor

Iwa ni Hana also looks at
Yakushiji Ryouko no Kaiki Jikenbo

There’s a love for the medium [manga], but only within the shoujo or shonen genre. The Beat surveys more of the debate

30 Years of Star Wars in Japan

A survey of American Presidents on

Selling Out, Manga-Style

Comic fans saw the
Wimbledon faceless people and said "the Questions?"

Yokai Attack author Matt Alt said "Nopperabo?"

Junot Diaz (Naoki Urasawa's Monster) touches on Naoki Urasawa's Monster

Jog offers an insightful survey of Batman-Gotham Knight

Kotonoha has presented a fan translation of shoujo pioneer Hagio Moto's short work Slowdown

Something that WALL E was missing, a beer serving robot

A survey of Manga Bibles

Evangelion coin lockers

Naruto energy drink

Otaku cars

Patrick Macias continues "1978 is 2008" with Leiji Matsumoto's Fantastic World and Let's Ondo Again

Always awesome,
Kazuo Umezu photos and The Art of Suehiro Maruo

Via The Beat, Chuck Austen/Hiroki Otsuka's Austen's Boys of Summer

Wonder Woman Animated DVD Poster

New Super Robot Wars Z promo


Production update on the new Wallace & Gromit short

Aardman confirmed on their official Wallace & Gromit blog that voice recording for A Matter of Loaf and Death is now completed. Peter Sallis, who turned 87 this year, returns as the voice of Wallace.

'Dark Knight' makes IMAX history with record opening

From a press release

IMAX Corporation (NASDAQ:IMAX; TSX:IMX) and Warner Bros. Pictures today announced that the studio's highly anticipated and technologically unprecedented summer movie,
The Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, and directed by Christopher Nolan, will open in a record 94 IMAX(R) theatres domestically on July 18th in conjunction with the film's wide release. The film will also open in 15 IMAX theatres day-and-date internationally, with at least 23 additional international locations opening in the coming weeks.

The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience features six sequences filmed with IMAX(R) cameras, the first time ever that a major feature film has been even partially shot using IMAX cameras, marking a revolutionary integration of the two film formats. The worldwide premiere of the film will be held at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 with IMAX in New York on July 14th, the first time a Hollywood feature film has premiered in an IMAX theatre.

Advance IMAX ticket sales demonstrate the huge enthusiasm surrounding the movie:

Advance IMAX ticket sales have already surpassed $2 million, more than a week prior to opening
Over 100 shows are already sold out
93 domestic IMAX theatres have added midnight screenings
Many IMAX theatres in the USA are adding 3am shows, and some are screening non-stop for 24 hours to meet the high moviegoer demands
Chicago's Navy Pier and the Palisades Center (West Nyack, NY) IMAX theatres will run shows non-stop for 72 hours
"The combination of Chris' inimitable vision and IMAX's groundbreaking technology produced a version of 'The Dark Knight' that will blow audiences away in theaters all over the world," said Dan Fellman, President, Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Sequences shot in traditional 35mm have been digitally re-mastered into The IMAX Experience(R) with proprietary IMAX DMR(R) technology. The two formats will be seamlessly integrated and morph between IMAX and IMAX DMR. In other words, scenes shot in 35mm will appear in IMAX DMR (letterbox), while scenes shot with IMAX's cameras on 15/70mm film will expand vertically to fill the entire IMAX screen, which can be up to eight stories tall, for an all-encompassing IMAX Experience.

"Chris Nolan's enthusiasm for IMAX technology has taken Hollywood filmmaking to a new level, and we're thrilled with the results on the screen and by the positive reactions to advance screenings," said Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. "Warner Bros. Pictures, together with Chris Nolan and the entire filmmaking team, have created an unprecedented filmmaking event that can't be missed, and we are honored to be a part of the excitement."

With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. The triumvirate proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as the Joker, who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces the Dark Knight ever closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.

Christian Bale reprises his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman; Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger
("Brokeback Mountain") stars as arch-villain The Joker, and Aaron Eckhart plays District Attorney Harvey Dent. Maggie Gyllenhaal joins the cast in the role of Rachel Dawes. Returning from "Batman Begins" are Gary Oldman as Lieutenant Jim Gordon; Oscar winner Michael Caine ("The Cider House Rules") as Alfred; and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman ("Million Dollar Baby") as Lucius Fox.

The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience is scheduled to play day-and-date at the following IMAX(R) Theatres beginning July 18th:



Huntsville - Spacedome IMAX at US Space and Rocket Center


Mesa - Gateway 12 IMAX Theatre
Phoenix - AMC Deer Valley 30 with IMAX


Little Rock - Promenade at Chenal


Anaheim - The Movie Experience at Anaheim Gardenwalk
Cathedral City - Desert IMAX Theatre
Dublin - Regal Hacienda Crossings IMAX
Fresno - Fresno Stadium Cinema & IMAX
Irvine - Edwards Irvine Spectrum IMAX
Los Angeles - Universal CityWalk IMAX Theatre
Los Angeles - IMAX Theatre at The Bridge: cinema de lux
Ontario - Edwards Ontario Palace IMAX
Sacramento - Esquire IMAX Theatre
San Diego - San Diego IMAX at Mira Mesa 18
San Francisco - AMC Loews IMAX Theatre at Metreon


Colorado Springs - Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Cinemark Carefree Circle
Denver - UA Colorado Center IMAX


Manchester - IMAX Theatre at Showcase Cinemas Buckland Hills


Fort Lauderdale - AutoNation(R) IMAX(R) Theater at Museum of Discovery and Science
Jacksonville - World Golf Hall of Fame IMAX Theatre
Orlando - Pointe Orlando 20 & IMAX
St. Petersburg - Muvico BayWalk 20 & IMAX
Tampa - Channelside Cinemas IMAX
Tampa - IMAX Dome Theatre at MOSI
West Palm Beach - Parisian 20 & IMAX


Buford - Regal Mall of Georgia IMAX


Boise - Edwards Boise Stadium IMAX


Batavia - Randall 15 IMAX
Chicago - Navy Pier IMAX Theatre
Lincolnshire - Regal Lincolnshire IMAX
Woodridge - Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Seven Bridges


Evansville - Showplace Cinemas IMAX Theatre
Indianapolis - ShowPlace 16 IMAX Theatre
Noblesville - Hamilton Towne Center 16 + IMAX
Portage - Portage 16 IMAX


Council Bluffs - Star Cinemas Council Bluffs
Davenport - Putnam Museum and IMAX Theatre
Des Moines - Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater


Olathe - IMAX Theatre at AMC Studio 30


Louisville - Cinema De Lux 20: Stonybrook IMAX Theatre


Natick - Verizon IMAX 3D Theater at Jordan's Furniture - Natick
Reading - Verizon IMAX 3D Theater at Jordan's Furniture - Reading


Dearborn - The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre
Grand Blanc - NGC Trillium IMAX Theatre
Grand Rapids - IMAX Theatre at Celebration! Cinema
Lansing - IMAX Theatre at Celebration! Cinema
Sterling Heights - IMAX Theatre at AMC Forum 30
Ypsilanti - Showcase Cinemas Ann Arbor


Apple Valley - Great Clips IMAX Theatre
St. Michael - CineMagic Metropolitan IMAX Theatre


St. Louis - Ronnies 20 Cine IMAX


Las Vegas - Brenden Theatres and IMAX at the Palms Casino Resort
Las Vegas - Red Rock Stadium 16 & IMAX

New Hampshire

Hooksett - Cinemagic IMAX Theatre

New Jersey

Atlantic City - IMAX Theatre at Tropicana Casino

New York

Garden City - Leroy R. and Rose W. Grumman IMAX Dome Theater
New York City - AMC Loews IMAX Theatre, Lincoln Square
New Rochelle - Regal New Roc City IMAX
Rochester - Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Tinseltown USA
West Nyack - IMAX Theatre at Palisades Center
White Plains - IMAX Theatre at City Center: Cinema de lux
Williamsville - Regal Transit Center IMAX

North Carolina

Charlotte - Charlotte Observer IMAX Dome Theatre, Discovery Place
Raleigh - Wachovia IMAX Theatre at Marbles Kids Museum


Cincinnati -Cinema De Lux 18: Springdale IMAX Theatre
Columbus - IMAX Theatre at AMC Easton Town Center 30


Tulsa - Cinemark IMAX Theatre at The Tulsa


Tigard - Portland IMAX at Bridgeport Village Stadium 18


Harrisburg - Select Medical IMAX Theater at The Whitaker Center
King of Prussia - UA King of Prussia IMAX
Philadelphia - Tuttleman IMAX Theatre, Franklin Institute
Tarentum - Cinemark IMAX Theatre at the Galleria Pittsburgh Mills

Rhode Island

Providence - Feinstein IMAX Theatre Providence Place


Knoxville - Pinnacle 18 Complex at Turkey Creek
Nashville - Regal Opry Mills IMAX


Austin - The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum IMAX Theatre
Dallas - Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Cinemark 17
Houston - Edwards Marq(x)E IMAX
Houston - Silverado Station 18 IMAX
San Antonio - Palladium IMAX Theatre


Sandy - Megaplex 17 IMAX at Jordan Commons


Chantilly - Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center IMAX Theater
Hampton - Riverside 3D IMAX Theater at the Virginia Air & Space Center
Virginia Beach - The Virginia Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater


Seattle - Pacific Science Center Boeing IMAX Theater
Spokane - Riverfront Park IMAX Theatre


Fitchburg - Star Cinema IMAX



Calgary - Scotiabank Theatre Chinook
Edmonton - Scotiabank Theatre West Edmonton Mall

British Columbia

Langley - Cineplex IMAX Theatre, Colossus Langley
Richmond - Cineplex IMAX Theatre, SilverCity Riverport

Nova Scotia

Halifax - The Empire IMAX in Bayers Lake


Mississauga - Cineplex IMAX Theatre, Coliseum Mississauga
Ottawa - Cineplex Entertainment IMAX Theatre, SilverCity Gloucester IMAX Theatre
Toronto - Cineplex IMAX Theatre, Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
Woodbridge - Cineplex Entertainment IMAX Theatre, Colossus Woodbridge


Montreal - Cineplex Entertainment IMAX Theatre, Scotiabank Theatre Montreal
Quebec City - IMAX Le Theatre



Buenos Aires - IMAX Center Norte


Melbourne - IMAX Theatre, Melbourne Museum
Sydney - LG IMAX Theatre Sydney


Guayaquil - Fundacion Malecon 2000


Paris - Gaumont Disney Village IMAX


Berlin - CineStar IMAX 3D, Sony Center Berlin


Guatemala City - Pradera Concepcion

Hong Kong

Kowloon - UA MegaBox IMAX Theatre


Hyderabad - PRASAD IMAX Theatre


Haifa - IMAX Kiryon at GlobusMax Kiryon


Ilsan - CGV Ilsan
Incheon - CGV Incheon
Seoul - CGV Yongsan


Cuernavaca - Cinemex Diana IMAX Theatre
Guadalajara - Cinepolis IMAX Theatre Galerias Guadalajara
Mexico City - Cinepolis IMAX Theatre Perisur
Mexico City - Cinepolis IMAX Theatre Universidad
Monterrey - Cinepolis IMAX Theatre Galerias Valle Oriente


Amsterdam - Pathe Arena

New Zealand

- SKYCITY IMAX Theatre Queen Street


Manila - San Miguel Coca-Cola IMAX Theatre


Warsaw - Orange IMAX Warszawa


St. Petersburg - Coca-Cola IMAX Kinostar City

South Africa

Durban - Gateway IMAX Theatre
Pretoria - Menlyn IMAX Theatre


Barakaldo - Yelmo Cines Megapark
Malaga - Yelmo Cines Plaza Mayor
Oviedo - Yelmo Cines Los Prados


Taipei - Samsung IMAX Miramar Cinemas


Bangkok - KrungSri IMAX Siam Paragon


Ankara - IMAX Odeon Cineplex
Istinye - AFM IMAX Istinye Park


Dubai - Grand Megaplex 21 IMAX


Birmingham - IMAX Theatre at Millennium Point
Bradford - IMAX National Media Museum
Glasgow - Glasgow Science Centre IMAX Cinema
London - BFI London IMAX Cinema
Manchester - ODEON IMAX Cinema Manchester @ The Printworks

Additional theatres will be confirmed. Please check local listings or for final theatre listings, launch dates and show times.

DC, Warner to Form Super Strategy

Warner Bros. is sure to make a killing with the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, but plans for its DC Comics properties are sketchy beyond that. Daily Variety reports that the two units are getting together to work out a master plan for world media domination. The move comes as competitor Marvel Studios catches fire with its first two self-financed features, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, and executes a plan to keep the Marvel universe thriving on the screen.

While Marvel has a full slate of superhero pics with character cross-over in the pipeline, collaborations between Warner and DC have been sporadic up to this point.
will surely make a return to the big screen soon, but prime properties Superman and Justice League aren't being handled with any urgency. After a long stay in development hell, the very expensive Superman Returns made money, but didn't establish the tentpole the studio hoped it would. The property has been more successful in television with the long-running series Smallville. Director George Miller has been trying to get his Justice League film made, but the project remains in limbo following its derailment during the writers' strike. Ideas for a Green Lantern pic are also being batted around. The only DC-based movie in production at the moment is director Zach Snyder's Watchmen, based on the Alan Moore graphic novel.

The one area where Warner Bros. has been exploiting the DC Universe fairly heavily is animation. The
Justice League
and Teen Titans cartoon series have been big hits on Cartoon Network, and the direct-to-video animated features Superman Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier have been strong sellers at retail. The anime feature Batman: Gotham Knight hit stores this week and Wonder Woman is in production. A live-action Wonder Woman has long been in development, as has a Flash

TELETOON Adds 11 Shows for Fall

Canada's TELETOON is giving its viewership something to look forward to this fall as it prepares to debut 11 new series. Chowder, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Ben 10: Alien Force and the TELETOON original production World of Quest are among five programs joining the daytime line-up. Adult-targeted late-night block The Detour will get six new shows, including Life’s a Zoo, Code Monkeys, American Dad, Father of the Pride and Lucy, Daughter of the Devil. Viewers can catch the new daytime shows before their September premiere as TELETOON offers special sneak peeks both on air and online at throughout August. Each Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 a.m., Flash Forward will provide preview episodes of each new program. Also on tap for the fall are new episodes of returning series Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue, Bakugan, My Gym Parnter's a Monkey and The Batman!.

Chowder will make its Canadian debut with a sneak peek on Saturday Aug. 23 at 8:30 a.m. (ET/PT), followed by the full launch on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 11 a.m., its regular timeslot. The Cartoon Network original series created by C. H. Greenblatt is a bright and food-filled comedy that follows a young apprentice who spends his days learning from a magical chef. Along with creating fantastical dishes from the fresh and weird ingredients found at the local market, Chowder runs errands, tries to keep things tidy in the kitchen and works to stay on the good side of scatterbrained, yet brilliant, chef Mung Daal and his bossy wife, Truffles.

Produced by Sony Television and Marvel Comics,
The Spectacular Spider-Man focuses on the education of Peter Parker shortly after he receives the fateful bite from a radioactive spider. Still upset over the death of his uncle Ben, Peter comes face to face with villains including the Lizard, Green Goblin, Kingpin and Venom. Fans can catch the Flash Forward on Sunday, August 24. The show will then make its TELETOON premiere on Sunday, Sept. 7 at 10:30 a.m.

Following a sneak peek on Sunday, Aug. 17 at 8:30 a.m.,
Ben 10: Alien Force will premiere as part of a two day special back to school event on Aug.30 and Sept. 6. The event will also include the Canadian premiere of the live-action movie, Ben 10: Race Against Time. Alien Force will air weekly at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays, continuing the saga of 15-year-old Ben Tennyson as he once again puts on the Omnitrix to summon the power of ten alien beings, plus five new creatures.

Based on the successful online comic created by Jason T. Kruse,
World of Quest is produced by TELETOON with Cookie Jar Ent. and Kids WB! The action-comedy follows the young and spoiled Prince Nestor on his mission to save his parents from the evil Lord Spite. To keep him safe, Nestor has enlisted the protection of the muscle-bound Quest, who has no desire to protect the prince but has fallen under the power of a magic spell which forces him to serve. The sneak peek is scheduled for Sunday, Aug.10 at 8:30 a.m. The show will then settle into its regular Monday-Friday 6 p.m. timeslot starting with the Sept. 1 premiere.

TELETOON will also debut the Cartoon Network original series
Out of Jimmy's Head. An extension of the hit live-action movie Re-Animated, the series offers a mix of animation and live-action as young Jimmy Roberts copes with life in the presence of cartoon characters that only he can see. The Flash Forward on Saturday, August 16 will lead to a series premiere on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 a.m.

The new Detour lineup will be led by the
Life's a Zoo, a TELETOON original production with Cuppa Coffee. The fur will fly as seven animal strangers locked in a mansion in the middle of a Saskatchewan wheat-field debase themselves and attempt to destroy one another in order to win their luxurious abode and maybe even become famous. The show will air Monday and Friday at 11 p.m., and Tuesday and Saturday at 1:30 a.m., starting on Sept. 1.

American Dad will air Monday and Tuesday at 10 p.m. and midnight, and Tuesday and Wednesday at 2:30 a.m. beginning Sept. 1. Co-created by Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy), the 20th Century Fox Television production revolves around a dysfunctional family led by Stan Smith, a CIA agent and zealous American patriot. In addition to a repressed party-girl wife, an ultra-liberal 18-year-old daughter and a geeky son, Stan shares his house with and a sarcastic, grey alien and a talking goldfish.

Making the leap from Adult Swim is
Lucy, Daughter of the Devil. Directed and produced by Loren Bouchard (Home Movies, Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist), the show follows the adventures of Lucy, the 21-year-old spawn of Satan who struggles with her father’s wishes for her to fulfill her destiny as the Antichrist. Joining in the fun are a love interest named DJ Jesús and two priests and a nun who are intent on destroying her. The Sept. 3 premiere will launch the show on Wednesday at 11 p.m. and Thursday at 1:30 a.m.

The former FOX series
The Critic will also join the lineup, airing Wednesday and Thursday at 10 p.m. and midnight, and Thursday and Friday at 2:30 a.m. beginning Wednesday, Sept. 3. Produced by Mike Reiss and James L. Brooks (The Simpsons), The Critic stars Jon Lovitz as the voice of Jay Sherman, a caustic New York film critic who hosts the movie review show Coming Attractions. The series was produced by Columbia Tri-Star Television with Gracie Films and first aired in the '90s.

Code Monkeys is created by Adam de la Peña (Minoriteam) and produced by G4. The show follows the exploits of two video game programmers whose lives take a chaotic turn when the company they are working for, GameAvision, is taken over by a fanatical Texan businessman. Featuring graphics, a color palette and sound effects reminiscent of 8- and 16-bit video games, the series will air on Thursday at 11 p.m. and Friday at 1:30 a.m. beginning Thursday, Sept. 4.

Father of the Pride, which initially had a short run on NBC, will join the lineup on Friday, Sept. 5 and will air each Friday at 10 p.m. and midnight, and Saturday at 2:30 a.m. Produced by DreamWorks Animation, the CGI sitcom follows the lives of a family of white lions living in Las Vegas and working in Siegfried & Roy's show. The voice cast includes John Goodman, Cheryl Hines and Carl Reiner.

Saw Director Cuts EA's Dead Space Trailer

Electronic Arts Inc. today announced the launch of "Loved Ones," a new trailer for the upcoming video game Dead Space. Directed by James Wan, one of the filmmakers behind the Saw horror film franchise, the sneak peek introduces gamers to the bold and often bloody survival horror game that promises to deliver psychological terror and gruesome cinematic action.

Dead Space is set 500 years in the future. Humanity has exhausted much of the Earth’s natural resources, and competition for survival is tight. In response, Earth’s mega-corporations send immense mining ships called “Planetcrackers” into deep space to rip planets apart, smelt them down and then bring all the material back to Earth. When all contact is lost with the most famous Planetcracker, Isaac Clarke and a small repair team are dispatched to restore
communications. They find the ship nearly powerless and the crew horribly slaughtered and transformed into terrifying abominations. Cut off and trapped, Clarke and his team are overwhelmed in a desperate fight to survive.

“Being a massive fan of space horror stories, I leapt at the opportunity to help out on Dead Space, says Wan. “When I saw the early development stages of the game, I was blown away by the cinematic visuals and the philosophy behind the story. I knew I had to be involved in this project in whatever capacity. It was a new but fantastic experience working with the Dead Space creators. My imagination was so fired up that I approached the trailer like I was crafting a suspenseful, short movie.”

“We wanted to create a trailer that showcased the horror and terror that awaits players in Dead Space, so of course we turned to someone who is a master at delivering those emotions,” comments Glen Schofield, executive producer for Dead Space “It was incredible working with James on this project. His insight into the horror genre and experience as a Hollywood director led to the creation of “Loved Ones.” This trailer will definitely ensure that viewers will want to play Dead Space with the lights on.”

“Loved Ones” premiered on Spike’s GameTrailers TV on Friday, July 11th at 1 am. The game is under development at EA Redwood Shores and is slated to ship in time for Halloween. For more information, go to

Toon Boom Offers Summer Specials

The price of a gallon of gas keeps going up this summer, but at least animation is getting cheaper for some. Emmy award-winning software company Toon Boom Animation Inc. today announced that it has reduced prices on several of its most popular animation software solutions just for the summer. Valid until July 17, the promotions offer savings of as much as $100 on Toon Boom Studio, Toon Boom Storyboard Pro, Toon Boom Pencil Check Pro, Toon Boom Digital Pro. In addition, the company is offering summer specials on academic versions of its products.

Toon Boom Studio, an all-in-one animation software package, can currently be had $299.99. Toon Boom Storyboard Pro has been knocked down to $799.99, and Toon Boom Pencil Check Pro to $299.99. Content creators can also snag Toon Boom Digital Pro at $2,499.99 or $1,999 for a Studio cross-grade.

Toon Boom Studio 4 offers greater flexibility to customize convenient workspaces. Its 30-plus new features and improvements include the ability to animate bitmap images like any other vector drawing, extended line styles for creating a multitude of styles including calligraphy, feather edges to creating vector blur or glow effects, more peg functionalities for easily creating improved motion effects and advanced web publishing options for seamless playback on the internet. Studio 4 also offers support for Adobe Illustrator layers, the Vectorize Preview window, improved drawing tools, Alpha Onion Skinning and support of Tablet PC OS (for Windows XP and Vista).

Key features of Storyboard Pro include a true WYSIWYG, multi-layer drawing engine that mimics the traditional storyboarding process using a graphic tablet and pen compatible with Tablet PC for Windows and Vista, as well as Mac Intel. The release also offers simultaneous animatic creation (complete with complex camera moves), pre-production management functions and total pipeline integration with AAF, CSV, PSD and PDF file format support.

Pencil Check Pro supports a full range of devices from scanners to DV/HDV cameras, webcams and digital cameras. The software performs all capture operations from a unique interface and has a real-time preview for devices equipped with live video stream. Users can sketch key poses directly in the software, playback instantly and use the audio track capabilities while filling the exposure sheet.

A complete paperless animation software designed for professionals and freelancers, Toon Boom Digital Pro comes with kick-start programs designed to ensure successful and seamless studio integration, extensive training material and reliable customer support. Productivity tools include a state-of-the-art vector engine, palette management, lip-sync, true 3D space, morphing and inverse kinematics. Other key features include an asset library for storing animated cycles, sounds, effects, characters, backgrounds, props, and templates for reuse; advanced palette management for creating and altering color models with independent palettes; more than over 50 special effects to chose from and apply in any combination instantly at anytime during production; and integrated, non-linear workflow that covers all the production steps from storyboarding to final rendering.

Learn more about Toon Boom's summer specials at All prices for the academic versions are listed at

Kung Fu Panda Knockoffs

Apparently Kung Fu Panda is so popular that it’s spurred a whole bunch of counterfeit merchandise, some of which are pretty funny.

Timm Talks "Batman: Gotham Knight"

Comic Book Resources has posted an article talking with executive producer Bruce Timm about Batman Gotham Knight, the direct-to-video movie that was released to stores this past Tuesday.

"Batman: Gotham Knight" on sale now

On sale this week is
“Batman: Gotham Knight,” the latest release from Warner Bros.’ DC Universe line of direct-to-DVD features based on the iconic DC Comics superheroes. Split into six chapters created by six different teams of writers, directors, animators, and composers, “Gotham Knight” bridges the gap between 2005’s live-action “Batman Begins” and the forthcoming sequel, “The Dark Knight.”

Executive Producing the project is Bruce Timm, the fan-favorite and award-winning mastermind behind the legendary
“Batman: The Animated Series.”
But Timm told CBR News that in terms of creative control over the DVD, he had "almost none." However, that doesn’t mean Timm didn't have a lot to say about the project, which brings an anime style to the Batman character.

"I was excited to see how other creators would interpret [Batman in ‘Gotham Knight’)," Timm said. "Specifically, these were Japanese guys who didn't have a tradition of American style superheroes and culture. They do have superhero comics and anime in Japan, but they're really, really different than the 'Western' style heroes -- they're very, very different. Anime is something that is constantly evolving. If you've seen some of the weirder, more avant-garde anime that has come out of Japan in the last two or three years, there really isn't a traditional anime style anymore like there were when we were kids. Some of the designs we got from some of the teams were really realistic, like live-action rotoscoping, and one segment was almost like a garage band punk visual style -- a really, really cool visual style but we're telling everyone we're doing an anime style Batman, and this doesn't even look like anime, it just looks really different. So at one point we wanted to be sure we got at least one or two segments of what we Westerners think looks like anime -- small, lipless mouths and stuff. We got some of that in there too. There's a good variety of styles throughout the movie, it's cool."

Scene from "Batman: Gotham Knight"

Asked why the Batman lends himself so easily to experimentation and interpretation, the producer said it's hard to "mess up" Batman.
"He's is just a cool character. We've already seen all different various media, so many different kinds of Batman, from Adam West to Christian Bale to all flavors in-between," Timm remarked. "You can go goofy with him, you can go really, really dark, cloth costume or armor, high-tech or low-tech. You have a pretty wide parameter of how far you can take the character. We were really gratified that some of the designers in Japan went a little bit further away from the traditional Batman then some people here in the states were really comfortable with. I had to kind of fight for it. I said, 'you know, this is weirder than what we expected, but I think it's valid and it's cool and it's what we wanted to see.' We didn't want to see the traditional comic book Batman with semi-anime touches. We wanted to see something that was really, really unusual and different. I was one person that let some of the more weirder designs go through."

The six different segments of "Gotham Knight" interlock to form a feature film that takes place between the end of "Batman Begins" and the beginning of "The Dark Knight." Each segment is approximately 12 minutes long,and written by such talents as Brian Azzarello, Greg Rucka, Alan Burnett and Josh Olson. Interestingly, Timm said that it was not his preference to have the stories link -- he believed that may have limited some of the creators.

Scene from "Batman: Gotham Knight"

"That was one of the weird things about this project, my preference would have been to have the segments not link together, to have them stand alone more," Timm said. "I thought that would have given more of an opportunity to open up the possibilities to the Japanese [producers]. Fortunately or unfortunately, we do have a through-line so we couldn't go too far outside the central framework. One of the things I liked about the ‘Animatrix’ project was that some of the segments had almost nothing to do with ‘The Matrix.’ Some of them were really bizarre -- really, really weird. I would have liked to have given a little bit more artistic freedom to the Japanese so they could really go to town. But I am gratified that within the concrete framework that we had, there was still plenty of room to bring a lot of punch to the page."

Many fans will be happy to hear the voice of Kevin Conroy as that of Batman/Bruce Wayne in
"Gotham Knight." To many his voice is the ideal Batman, having served in that role in so many different endeavors -- from "Batman: The Animated Series" to "Batman Beyond" and "Justice League."
"Originally, we wanted to use the movie cast,” Timm said. “But these are some of the most famous actors in the world. We couldn't make the schedule work. In the early part of our production, they were still filming ‘The Dark Knight.’ As soon as they wrapped they were all spread out around the globe. At that point we decided to go a completely different way. We can't get Christian [Bale], who do we want to get next? We decided, let's just get Kevin. He's an awesome Batman voice. There was no downside to using Kevin."

Scene from "Batman: Gotham Knight"

As to the future of DC’s direct-to-DVD features, Timm talked about the possibility of using lesser-known characters in upcoming projects."It's hard to say at this point,” he said. “This project is still kind of early. I think we're going to end up using more of the A-list characters for the time being. I do hope that we get to the point where we're successful enough that we can start going into the more obscure characters, I think there are a lot of interesting characters in the quote-unquote 'B-list' and 'C-list.' That's one thing to me that's really interesting about the huge success of Iron Man this summer. Iron Man is not really a household name, and yet it's the top movie of the year. I'm going to use that argument as much as possible when we're talking about future projects to DVD, just because Joe Blow in Kokomo doesn't know who the Question is doesn't mean we shouldn't use him."

Presently, Bruce Timm is hard at work on the forthcoming
Wonder Woman DVD feature.
“We're starting to get footage back from overseas on that, I'm very excited, it looks great,” he said. “Very, very violent. After that, it hasn't been officially announced yet so I can't say. But another DC DVD.”

Astro Boy – Exclusive Interview with Director David Bowers and Producer Maryann Garger

Collider brings an exclusive interview with the director David Bowers and producer Maryann Garger of Imagi Entertainment’s upcoming feature film Astro Boy.

The space around Imagi Entertainment's booth was packed this past weekend at Los Angeles' Anime Expo as convention-goers got a look at some of the earliest footage from the upcoming
"Astro Boy" feature film. Imagi -- the same company behind last year's "TMNT" -- is bringing Osamu Tezuka's classic character to life in a major way.

Fans will be happy to hear that the look of Astro Boy is a perfect match to the classic appearance of Metro City's champion; the orphaned robot, Astro. The footage -- which compared shots against previous animated versions of the character -- manages to faithfully deliver Tezuka's world through fresh eyes.

Director David Bowers (who also directed 2006's
"Flushed Away"
) reteams with Producer Maryann Garger (who co-produced the same) and seemed pretty pleased with excitement on people's faces as they saw Astro Boy in action. They spoke briefly with Collider about their work on "Astro Boy"
so far.

Collider: Can you tell me a little about the origins of the project?

Well, the property started in the early 50's originally as a manga in Japan and there was a successful TV show in the early 60's. There was another TV series in the 80's and 2000 and this is the first time it's hitting the big screen so we're very excited.

David: For me, I've always loved "Astro Boy" so when I heard that the project was being done and that the project was in development, I sort of tried to find out as much as I could about it. Luckily, I'd worked with Maryann before. It just seemed like the right movie for me at the right time.

Collider: How long ago did you start looking at bringing "Astro Boy" to the big screen?

It was in development -- David and I had worked together on "Flushed Away". I was co-producer and he was the director. So when this property sort of started in development, we've always been in contact since "Flushed Away". It was a natural fit to reunite to take "Astro Boy"
to the big screen.

David: We've been working together for a long time. (Laughs).

Maryann: Maybe fifteen years!

Collider: Both of your backgrounds began with 2-D animation; What was it like making the transition to CGI?

David: For me, it's a different set of technical issues. There are things that are easier to do in 2-D and things that are easier to do in 3-D. I find that 3-D's actually a little more difficult. Just technically, there's so much more actual work involved for the artists. As a director, it doesn't really make that much of a difference at all. I'm still looking for a great story. I'm still looking to make the characters rich. I'm still working with actors and working with tremendously talented artists in pretty much the same way. Luckily, the shield me from all the technical gobblety gook. The stuff that would just baffle me, technically. I'm free to work on the story and the action and make sure it's a good movie. So for me, not much of a transition at all.

Collider: Tell us a little about where the story is coming in. Is this an origin story or is it more a continuation?

David: It is [the origin]. I love classic super-hero origin stories. I love Richard Donner's Superman. I wanted to produce a film about Astro Boy that would sort of live up to the legend of Astro Boy and do him proud. It didn't want to make it cheap or pop-culturey. That's what's very sort of very popular in modern animation. Really, I just wanted to take it and make a fairly straight film, emotionally. It's really a very emotional story. The basic story is very, very sad about a boy robot who's built to replace a scientist's dead son and then the scientist finds he can't love him and throws him out. He has to go through all levels of Hell to sort of find his place in the world. That's such a great story and we worked very, very hard to make sure that it was emotionally and dramatically terrific. In the meantime, we sort of put in all these new characters that Astro meets along his journey. That all sort of adds comedy and fun. It's a respective film but it's a modern film.

Collider: You have this huge, A-list cast; How did that come together?

Maryann: We worked very hard to get that cast.

David: We did work very hard! But at the same time, a guy like Nicolas Cage, for example, was perfect for the role of Doctor Tenma, Astro's father. We approached him and we weren't sure what kind of reaction we were going to get. But it turns out that he loves Astro Boy and was very, very excited about the project. We spoke to him and showed him the work we'd been doing. He loved it. He was on board straight away. And he's a great actor. He's done some amazing stuff for us so far. With Freddie Highmore, I wanted a young actor who can do the emotional side of things but Freddie has a light side to him as well. I think he's just one of the most talented young actors working today. We were very lucky to get him. The rest of our cast is fantastic, too! Donald Sutherland is a legend. Nathan Lane I've seen on-stage in so many productions and loved him and loved his movie works. Eugene Levy; He's hilarious. We've got a great role for him in this movie. He improvised a lot and so much of his stuff is fantastic. We've been very, very lucky with our cast.

Collider: Are you already looking at "Astro Boy" as a series of films?

I think things are only eyed as franchises when the first one makes a lot of money so we'll see! (Laughs) Obviously, with Astro Boy the story can go on and on and on. We only really touch on Astro Boy in this movie. I think that at the end of our movie we've set everything up. We're really at a point where we understand Astro Boy and Astro Boy's world. Everything's set for the stories that came later.

Collider: The designs look very true to the original manga. Was it hard to convert the 2-D drawings to 3-D animation?

No, I always think "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Astro Boy's an icon. I love the look of him. It really suits my design sensibility to have a character that looks that way. We took a lot more liberties with the other characters like Doctor Tenma. Bringing them into the 3-D world was a little more difficult. I think we've found a real nice balance between 3-D CGI and the characters' 2-D illustrations. We've been working closely with the Ozuka estate in Tokyo. If we're on the wrong track, we get their input and are bumped back. "It might be a little cuter if..."

Collider: How has the fan response been so far?

Well, we're just putting it out there. But they've been really enthusiastic. I mean, I love Astro Boy and it's so great to see so many other people looking forward to seeing it on the big screen.

Collider: Do you know, either of you, what you'll be working on after "Astro Boy"?

I'm going to be working on my tan. (Laughs) I don't know. I don't know yet. I've got a couple of projects in development.

"Astro Boy" is slated for release in 2009.

Interview with Wall•E producer

WSJ has posted an interview with Lindsey Collins, producer of the latest Pixar film Wall•E, wherein she talks about dressing for Pixar, pregnancy and red-carpet premieres. Thanks to UpcomingPixar for the story.

Marvel Animation Represented At Upcoming San Diego Comic-Con

A host of panels focusing on Marvel's animation slate will be featured at Comic-Con International.

Below is a listing of each of the panels focusing on Marvel's assorted animation projects.

Marvel/Lionsgate: Hulk vs. Wolverine Screening
Thursday, July 24th, 4:15pm – 5:45pm
Hall H

ALBERTA, Canada. Over the past week, The Incredible Hulk has been tearing a line across the Canadian wilderness, leaving a swathe of destruction in his wake. He has to be stopped, and there's only one man up to the job. He's the best at what he does, but what he does isn't very nice. He's Wolverine, an elite agent of Canada's top secret Department H, and he's been put on Hulk's trail with a single objective: stop the green goliath…at all costs. Hulk and Wolverine are about to enter the fiercest battle of their lives. And they have no idea that there are a few unpleasant surprises waiting for them on the other side. Come meet Craig Kyle (Supervising Producer/Co-Writer), Frank Paur (Producer/Supervising Director), Christopher Yost (Co-Writer) and others involved in this Marvel Animation Milestone and watch the complete
Hulk vs. Wolverine before it's January 2009 Blu-ray and DVD release.

Sony Pictures Television: The Spectacular Spider-Man
Friday, July 25th, 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Room 6CDEF

Spend some time with the cast and creators of the renowned web-slinger's newest animated adventures,
The Spectacular Spider-Man, a Culver Entertainment Production. Ask your burning questions about the first thirteen episodes of Season 1, learn about what's in store for the next thirteen and catch an exclusive sneak peek at Season 2! Michael Vogel from Sony Pictures Television Animation will moderate a panel headed by Supervising Producer Greg Weisman (Gargoyles), Supervising Producer/Supervising Director Vic Cook (Hellboy: Blood and Iron), Character Designer Sean "Cheeks" Galloway (Hellboy animated films), Voice Director Jamie Thomason (2007's TMNT, Spirited Away), the voice of Spider-Man, Josh Keaton (The Young & The Restless), the voice of Mary Jane Watson, Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Jedi Knights II),the voice of Eddie Brock and Venom, Ben Diskin (Codename: Kids Next Door) and the voice of Adrian Toomes and Vulture, Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street).

Marvel/Lionsgate: Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow Screening
Friday, July 25th, 8:30pm – 10pm
Room 6A

Whenever the forces of evil threatened mankind, Earth's mightiest heroes, the Avengers, were there to stop them — until they made the ultimate sacrifice in their final fight with the indestructible robot, Ultron. But all was not lost for Tony Stark (Iron Man) kept the children of the Avengers safe and raised them to become the teenage heroes of tomorrow. But it will take more than five teens to destroy the machine that defeated their parents. If these young heroes have any hope of winning, they must find the missing Hulk and come together as…the Next Avengers! Come meet Craig Kyle (Supervising Producer), Gary Hartle (Producer/Supervising Director), Christopher Yost (Writer) and others involved in this new animated film and watch Next Avengers before it's September 2, 2008 Blu-Ray and DVD release.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures Screening
Saturday, July 26th, 10am – 11am
Rooms 6CDEF

Tony Stark, heir to a billion-dollar corporation, lives a life of luxury, free to pursue his chief interests -- seeking extreme thrills, solving scientific mysteries and creating mind-boggling inventions. But everything goes horribly wrong when a tragic accident robs Tony of his father and nearly costs him his own life. Now dependent on his own impressive technology for survival and dedicated to battling corruption, Tony must reconcile the pressure of teenage life with the duties of a super hero. Inside his remarkable invention, Tony Stark is geared for high-speed flight, high-tech battles and high-octane adventure! He is Iron Man. Come meet Josh Fine (Marvel Studios), Christopher Yost (Head Writer) and others involved with this exciting new animated series and watch an episode of
Iron Man: Armored Adventures before it's Nicktoons 2009 premiere.

Wolverine and the X-Men Screening
Saturday, July 26th, 8:30pm – 10pm
Rooms 6CDEF

When an explosive event shatters the lives of the X-Men and takes away their mentor, the beaten heroes walk away from it all. But then they're given a rare glimpse into the future, and see a world in utter ruin, ruled by mutant hunting Sentinels. 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. Come meet Boyd Kirkland (Lead Director), Craig Kyle (Supervising Producer), Greg Johnson (Head Writer) and others involved with this new animated series and watch the first three episodes of this epic new X-Men series before it's Nicktoons 2009 premiere.

From the Animation Guild Blog:

Siddown, Shaddup, the Resolution?

Yesterday, while I was in Northern California enjoying the balmy weather (102 degrees), the office was notified that artists working on
Sit Down, Shut Up were being laid off due to lack of scripts, but that there was hope they would be rehired soon.

"Why?" the TAG office asked.

"Because it looks like most of the writers have agreed to come back to work," was the answer.

Ordinarily we're cynics about these things, also ordinarily we keep our pie holes shut until there's some kind of actual end result and not just hearsay. But now the trades have
picked up the scent:

The month-long stalemate at Fox's new animated series "Sit Down, Shut Up" could be headed for a resolution, with most of the show's writers said to favor an agreement with producing studio Sony Pictures TV. Sony recently approached the scribes with a new version of the deal it offered them June 23. While the current proposal is said to include a more generous package than what's been previously presented, it is said to keep the main deal points from the previous offer intact, including maintaining the show's status as a signatory to IATSE, not the WGA. On June 12, the 14 writers on "Sit Down" walked out in protest of IATSE's jurisdiction over the show and in pursuit of coverage by the WGA. The writers claimed that they were misled by Sony that they would be covered by the WGA. Meanwhile, Sony has maintained that its TV animation division, Adelaide Prods., which produces the series, is a longtime signatory to IATSE.

Not all
"Sit Down" writers are said to be on board for the modified proposal. At least two of the scribes, including one of the exec producers have declined it, meaning that if a deal is reached, not all original writers will return to the animated show, an adaptation of a live-action Australian series ...

For the sake of a lot of folks who will lose jobs, pay and benefits if the show slides beneath the waves, we hope that agreement can be reached.

We'll relay news each time we stumble across some.

Comic-Con 2008: Sunday

After posting the schedule for Preview Night and Thursday, the San Diego Comic-Con is going a bit out of order as they have now posted the schedule for Sunday, July 27 before revealing the schedules for Friday and Saturday. You can view the full day's schedule here, but below are the events that are movie, TV and DVD-based.

Sunday, July 27

10:00-11:00 Smallville Screening and Q&A
— Comic-Con favorite Smallville returns, with new showrunners Kelly Souders, Brian Peterson, Todd Slavkin, and Darren Swimmer joining cast members to talk about the year ahead, answer fan questions, and give an exclusive sneak peek at clips featuring the new villains for season eight. Award-winning comic book writer, Emmy-nominated film and television writer/producer, and Smallville alum Jeph Loeb (Heroes) moderates the session. From Tollin/Robbins Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, Smallville airs Thursdays at 8:00 PM on The CW. Room 6CDEF

10:00-5:00 San Diego International Children’s Film Festival— The 5th Annual San Diego International Children's Film Festival opens right here on Kids' Day at Comic-Con International! The festival will screen short films for children of all ages from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM in Room 10, including animation, live action, and documentary. Filmmakers will appear to answer questions from the audience. Complete schedule is coming soon! Room 10

10:15-11:15 Nickelodeon: SpongeBob SquarePants Sneak Peek, and More!— Be the first to watch some brand spanking new episodes of one of your favorite Nickelodeon shows, SpongeBob SquarePants! And there's more! You'll also catch a never-before-seen episode from Nick's latest breakout hit, The Mighty B!, and watch the hilarious antics of Otis and his friends from the Emmy-nominated show Back at the Barnyard. Plus, you'll be the first to get a sneak peek at an upcoming Nickelodeon series. Room 6B

10:30-11:30 Muggles, Wizards, and Fans in the World of Harry Potter— Panel members Erin Pyne (author of A Fandom of Magical Proportions), Sue Upton (senior editor of and co-host of Pottercast), Melissa Anelli (author of Harry: A History), and Heidi Tandy (webmaster, Fiction Alley) will have wands at ready as they discuss what makes Harry Potter fans so different from members of other fandoms. How has the HP fandom affected the development of the books and movies? Moderated by notorious Muggle Eric Bowling. Room 2

10:30-11:30 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia— The FX hit comedy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is coming to the Con. See an unaired episode from the upcoming season followed by a panel discussion featuring series stars Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson, and director Fred Savage. The panel will be moderated by Damon Lindelof, creator/executive producer of Lost. Attendees of the screening and panel have the chance to win one of thousands of prizes. Ballroom 20
Categories: Humor & Satire Television

11:00-12:00 Dave Stevens Tribute— The industry was shocked and saddened at the loss this year of one of our great creative talents. Emcee Mark Evanier chairs an hour of remembrance by Dave's fans and friends as they talk about the creator of The Rocketeer...a great artist who left us much too early. Room 7AB

11:15-12:15 Supernatural Screening and Q&A— Supernatural stars Jensen Ackles (Smallville) and Jared Padalecki (House of Wax)—along with creator/executive producer Eric Kripke (Boogeyman), co-executive producers Ben Edlund (Angel) and Peter Johnson (Supernatural: Origins comic book series), and supervising producer Sera Gamble (Eyes)—present exclusive sneak peek footage from the highly anticipated fourth season premiere of this thrill-ride series, answer questions, and show a portion of the special features from the upcoming third season DVD release. Produced by Wonderland Sound and Vision in association with Warner Bros. Television, Supernatural airs Thursdays at 9:00 PM ET/PT on The CW. Room 6CDEF

11:30-1:00 The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning— The sea holds many deep secrets for young Princess Ariel in The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, an all new, full-length movie coming exclusively to DVD on August 26. Available for a limited time only, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning takes audiences back to the story’s beginnings with favorite characters from the original film as well as a wonderfully wicked new villainess. With a score that continues The Little Mermaid’s legacy of memorable, life-affirming songs, the latest animated adventure from DisneyToon Studios will capture the hearts of all ages! Room 6B

11:30-12:00 Focus Features: Hamlet 2— Focus Features invites you to preview the much talked about hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Hamlet 2! Featuring appearances by Steve Coogan (24 Hour Party People, Night at the Museum and the upcoming Tropic Thunder), Elisabeth Shue (Adventures in Babysitting, The Karate Kid), writer Pam Brady (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Team America: World Police), and writer/director Andrew Fleming (The Craft, Dick). There will be other surprise appearances, so don't miss it! Ballroom 20

12:00-1:00 Phineas and Ferb— Join creators Dan Povenmire (Family Guy) and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh (Rocko's Modern Life) along with special guests from the show's cast to learn more about Disney Channel's newest smash hit series, including an insider's look at how the show came to life and what's in store for these inventive step-brothers and their tattletale sister in the future. Plus never-before-seen footage, audience Q&A, and a chance to win Phineas and Ferb merchandise! Room 5AB

12:00-12:45 Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay— Comedy legends Harold, Kumar, and NPH (Kal Penn, John Cho, and Neil Patrick Harris) appear live and in-person ato talk about the creation of their latest masterpiece—Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay—available on DVD on July 29. Don’t miss the stars of this cult classic comedy franchise as they talk about their experiences making the films and the plethora of extras features on the DVD including “Dude, Change the Movie!” where the viewer decides what Harold and Kumar do next. Ballroom 20

12:00-2:00 Browncoats Fan Group— Calling all Browncoats! Fans of
Firefly and Serenity are welcome to join the California Browncoats to hear about upcoming events and products that you'll really love. Stop by and listen to some quality storytelling by ’verse-related and ’verse-friendly authors. And last but not least, come to meet and hang out with all the great Browncoats at Comic-Con! Room 24A

12:30-1:30 Emily the Strange— What's black and white and strange all over? Emily the Strange comics from Dark Horse! This is your chance to get a behind-the-scenes peek at the world of
Emily the Strange. Panelists cover everything from the inspired and slightly insane comic book series, the best-selling books, news from the movie front, and much more! Emily's legal guardian and creative monstermind Rob Reger will be there, along with artists Buzz Parker and Nix Turner, writer Jessica Gruner, Dark Horse editor Shawna Gore, and a two-headed kitty who lives on the moon. (Okay, so no promises on the kitty, but she said she'd try to make it.) Room 2

12:30-1:30 Paranormal State— See the stars of the hit A&E series
Paranormal State: Ryan Buell, Eilfie Music, Sergey Poberezhny, Heather Taddy, and Katrina Weidman. Be the first to see the Season 2 premiere of Paranormal State, the show that seeks out the truth behind terrifying real life mysteries, hauntings, and ghosts. Hear the cast share behind-the-scenes details not revealed in the show. Moderated by Dave Schrader of Darkness Radio. Room 6CDEF

12:30-1:30 Nick Jr. Presents: Backyardigans and Ni Hao, Kai-lan— This is a must-see screening for all you Nick Jr. fans! Catch a brand new episode from the Emmy Award–winning show, Backyardigans. And then sit back for some more Nick Jr. fun with a music and dance filled episode of Ni Hao, Kai-lan. Room 8

1:00-2:30 Chowder and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack with Underfist Sneak Peek You’ve laughed your butt off watching the shows, now meet the creators of Chowder and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack! Chowder creator Carl Greenblat and voice talents Nicky Jones (Chowder), Dwight Schultz (Mung Daal), and Tara Strong (Truffles) join The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack creator Thurop Von Orman, creative director JG Quintell, and writer/voice talent Steve Little for the funniest panel discussion you’ll attend all weekend. And that’s not all! You’ll also get to grill Adam Burton (The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy) on the sneak peek at his twisted new spectacle—Underfist. Room 6A

1:00-2:00 Marvel: TV Writers of Marvel— Heroes, Eli Stone, Carnivale, Underworld, and Big Love. You love these shows & films, but did you know the writers behind them are also at Marvel? Find out what’s in store for some of TV, movies, and comics’ biggest projects from the people behind them with Jeph Loeb (Ultimates), Aron Coleite (Ultimate X-Men), Joe Pokaski (Secret Invasion: Inhumans), Marc Guggenheim (Amazing Spider-Man), Daniel Knauf (Iron Man), Kevin Grevioux (New Warriors), and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (The Stand)! Room 7AB

1:00-1:30 Friday the 13th— Sneak a peek at the new movie retelling the original Friday the 13th about teenaged summer camp counselors who are systematically slaughtered by a mysterious killer. Ballroom 20

1:15-2:30 Cartoon Voices II— It's another one of those panels where folks who do animation voice work demonstrate their craft and dazzle you with their talents. Co-hosts Mark Evanier and Earl Kress welcome Chris Edgerly
(Harvey Birdman, Celebrity Deathmatch), Dee Baker (American Dad, SpongeBob SquarePants), Cheryl Chase (Rugrats, All Grown Up), Katie Leigh (Dungeons & Dragons, Totally Spies!), Billy West (Futurama, Ren & Stimpy) and a few surprises. Room 6B

1:30-2:30 30 Years of Pointed Ears: Wendy and Richard Pini and Elfquest— Join Wendy Pini (
Elfquest, Masque of the Red Death) and Richard Pini (Elfquest, CEO Warp Graphics) for a visual presentation that includes Wendy's pioneering career as writer/artist, colorful stories about publishing Elfquest, current and upcoming projects and, quite possibly, a few surprises. Q&A for sure! Dare to ask anything! Room 2

1:30-2:30 Magic, Mystery, and Missions: Huntik: Secrets & Seekers— This animated TV adventure series will be taking over the airwaves in January 2009! Get a sneak peek at this new show—including footage never shown publicly before—and learn about the heroes, villains, and mythical creatures that make up this exciting story! Plus, while supplies last, each attendee will receive an exclusive Huntik: Secrets & Seekers gift! Room 4

1:30-2:30 Rogue Pictures— Rogue Pictures presents select footage, key cast members, and filmmakers from its upcoming 2009 slate. Scheduled appearances include writer/director Wes Craven, discussing his suspense thriller 25/8, and writer/director David Goyer, discussing his supernatural thriller The Unborn. Ballroom 20

1:45-2:45 Ghost Whisperer Season Four: The New Spirit Mythology of Melinda— Be on hand for revelations about the mysteries that will unfold in the upcoming season of the hit television series, the introduction of a new cast member Jamie Kennedy, and an exclusive first look at video clips from the season premiere episode. Panel will feature Jennifer Love Hewitt ("Melinda"), Jamie Kennedy ("Eli"—a new series regular cast member in season four), and executive producers Kim Moses, Ian Sander, and PK Simmons. Room 6CDEF

2:00-3:30 Starship Smackdown XI— The legendary Comic-Con exclusive celebrates another year of stellar showdowns as the original and infamous Starship Smackdown returns. Ever wonder if the USS Enterprise could take out the ID4 mothership (hint: Kirk's can!)? Can the Galactica find Earth and destroy the Yamato (of course, it's a cartoon)? Can the Serenity outplay, outwit, and outlast the fully functional firepower of an Imperial Super Star Destroyer? You'll find out the answers to all of these questions and many more from the panel of expert spaceship-ologists, including Robert Meyer Burnett (
The Hills Run Red producer), Jeff Bond (Geek Monthly editor), Steve Melching (The Clone Wars writer), Daren Dochterman (GI Joe production illustrator), Mary Forest (writer/comedian), and the Jeff Probst of the stars, moderator Mark A. Altman (DOA: Dead Or Alive, Free Enterprise). And it wouldn't be Starship Smackdown without a few surprises, so expect the unexpected. Those in the know, realize the Smackdown is the only way to close out your weekend the San Diego way! Room 7AB

2:00-3:00 Indyfans and the Quest for Fortune and Glory— Join the filmmakers of the documentary that focuses on Indiana Jones' legacy and the fans that follow him! There will be a Q&A regarding the progress of the documentary as well as a general discussion on all thingsIndiana Jones, and maybe even a few giveaways! Room 24A

2:45-4:15 Fraggle Rock— Help celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Fraggle Rock and learn more about this fall's newest DVD release! Join Red—making a personal appearance—as she sneak peeks the DVD special features and some other DVD surprises! Room 6B

3:00-4:30 Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon TV Series 50th Anniversary— Harry Guyton (Milton Caniff Estate), Bob Hoy (Sgt. Charlie Bergeron Steve Canyon), Mrs. Frank Ball (star Dean Frederick's daughter), and John Ellis (Steve Canyon DVD producer) present a discussion of what is quite possibly the most legendary long-lost (and now found) television series in history! Come delve into the mysteries surrounding the most expensive show on TV in 1958. Includes the first public screening of the restored 1959 NBC Steve Canyon episode “Operation Big Thunder”
in 48 years. Room 3

3:30-4:30 Dave Gibbons— He's the artist behind the cult classic Watchmen, one of the writers behind Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War, and the hidden genius behind countless other titles. We're talking about Dave Gibbons. Be front and center when Dave talks about his art, his writing, and his love for comics. Moderated by DC VP–sales Bob Wayne, this program is not to be missed! Room 7AB

4:00-5:00 Buffy the Musical— Let's end this show with a bang! The powers that be behind host a screening of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode "Once More With Feeling" as Comic Con 2008's big closing event! Many say this is the finest, funniest, most ingenious episode ever to come out of the Buffy-verse. But remember, the best part of the show is up to you! These eps were made for talkin'—back, that is—and singing and shouting and dancing in the aisles—with or without your dry cleaning! Audience participation: it isn't just for Rocky Horror and mob riots anymore. For more details on the screening visit, then show up for music, singing, and dancing crazy! Ballroom 20

David Fincher's 'Heavy Metal' too sexy for Paramount

The Hollywood Insider at reports that Paramount Pictures have gotten cold feet about the prospect of a David Fincher produced 'Heavy Metal' update:

[Fincher] has been spearheading an edgy remake of the 1981 R-rated animated flick inspired by the 1970s fantasy magazine of the same name. But Tim Miller, whose Blur Studio is handling the animation, says he and Fincher, along with current Heavy Metal publisher Kevin Eastman, are now shopping the film to other studios because Paramount's new production execs felt the movie was too risque for mainstream audiences. The project is an amalgam of erotic and violent storylines penned by well-known sci-fi scribes like Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Joe Haldeman (The Forever War), and Neal Asher (Gridlinked). The concept is to use eight to 10 of these shorts in a single movie with each segment helmed by a different director (Fincher is on deck to direct one). Though things are on hold until another studio picks it up, Miller is confident the film will eventually see the light of day. "David really believes in the project. It's just a matter of time," Miller says.

'Man of Steel' casting for extras

A casting call for 'Superman: The Man of Steel' turned up on Craigslist this week, which may indicate that the project is starting to heat up:.

Stand-ins and Extras, start your engines!

Plot Summary: A sequel to the summer 2006 action-adventure. Bryan Singer returns to direct with Brandon Routh again playing Clark Kent/Superman.

Stand-Ins, Extras needed

To get registered with OMEL Courtesy Casting please contact Ms. Mathews at 310-734-6742

Or feel free to review our website:

"Persepolis" screening in New Zealand angers Iran

Iran's embassy in New Zealand has leveled a sharp blast at the Wellington Film Festival for including the Oscar-nominated Persepolis, which criticized the Iranian regime, in its schedule.

The film is "full of lies and unreal fantasy," exploitative and unfair, said the embassy, adding that Persepolis is "anti-peace and insulting."

"The filmmaker is trying to evoke spectators' emotion through exaggeration [and] by distortion of history, especially Iran's revolution and the role of people in it," the embassy said.

Persepolis will be shown four times during the festival, starting on Friday, its first day. Three other screenings of Persepolis will be held on June 20 and 22.

Based on Iranian woman Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel, the black and white animated feature was produced in France. It won the jury prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival last year and was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature film.

New Zealand International Film Festival director Bill Gosden told the Dominion Post that he doesn't think the filmmaker was insulting Iranian values.

"It's certainly not the festival's intention to do so," he said. "We do believe that any filmmaker is entitled to present their view of events, and that every filmgoer should be encouraged to reach their own view of the filmmaker's reliability."

The Wellington Film Festival, which runs until August 3, will also show Waltz with Bashir, an animated feature film co-produced by Israel, France and Germany, as well as the Japanese productions Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone and Vexille.

5 minute clip for Mamoru Oshii’s ‘Sky Crawlers’!

Sky Crawlers is the latest animated feature from the hugely acclaimed director of Ghost in the Shell Mamoru Oshii and we’ve got from Twitch Film a 5 minute clip for your viewing pleasure.

Dark Knight HBO special

Helpful YouTubers have posted HBO's "First Look" special on 'The Dark Knight' for all to see.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Video: New 'Dark Knight' clip

If you're not worried that you've already seen too much of 'The Dark Knight', MTV has another chunk of footage: a short but stunning clip with a chase in Gotham involving Batman, Harvey Dent, the Joker, a truck and a bazooka.

weRbopbop - a New Guilty Pleasure

weRbopbop is the completely unhinged creation of the Conley brothers - Sebastian and Ben. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the animation in this online series, but the rapid fire comedy mixed with strong timing put this one in my must-watch pile.

This politically themed episode, titled Back-door to the Future, is very, very NOT SAFE FOR WORK. You get goatse’d for crying out loud.

TV Critics Preview Clone Wars

In a surprising moment of openness, George Lucas allowed a full episode of his upcoming animated TV series Star Wars: Clone Wars to be shown to the Television Critics Association in Beverly Hills, Calif., on July 11. Usually full episodes of the upcoming shows are not show during the press tours, and certainly not anything from Lucasfilm.

"Secrecy is usually in top form," said David Filoni, supervising director of the animated TV series. "I am so relieved and glad to be able to show you something, and show an entire episode."

Rob Sorcher, chief content officer of the Cartoon Network, where the show will air sometime in the fall, said he was surprised that the whole episode was brought down for viewing.

"We're thrilled and honored George Lucas chose us as their show, and this is a mini-movie every week for a whole new generation of fans, and the whole family will come with kids, and it will open up this world to them more," Sorcher said.

The high-definition digital animation started off with a warning by a threatening General Grievous that said no part of the presentation should be recorded, even by cell phone.

The half-hour episode's animated space scenes felt similar to those of the six live-action Star Wars movies. The episode began with a small version of the familiar opening scroll, which read, "Great leadership comes in all sizes."

The story follows Yoda as he tries to get to a planet to offer Jedi knight protection. A strange, bald female emissary named Ventress lands first, and under the direction of Count Dooku she tries to stop Yoda's arrival.

Yoda, flanked by clone troopers, lands on a planet that looks like fanned pink coral on the bottom of an ocean . A group of droids follows them onto the surface of the planet and attack in a massive battle. When the troopers seem ready to give up, Yoda has them take off their masks and reads their minds, tells them their greatest fears and shows them how they can succeed. "So small in number we are, but larger in mind," Yoda says.

Yoda then jumps on the larger attack machines and gets them to shoot at each other. Ventress becomes enraged as she watches her army being decimated. "The Force lives in all living beings; use it you must," Yoda says.

The usually cynical group of TV critics whooped and applauded after the viewing. Filoni talked for nearly half an hour with a few press people before being whisked back to Skywalker Ranch in Northern California.

The series will air after the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated film is released Aug. 15. The show and will run for 22 episodes on Saturdays on the Cartoon Network.

Heath's Last Role

The Creators And Stars Of 'The Dark Knight' Recall His Electrifying Transformation Into The Joker

"LET'S put a smile on that face!"

From the moment Heath Ledger's Joker hissed those words in one of the first trailers for "The Dark Knight" - Warner Bros. has been taunting us with them for a year now - the world's been waiting for answers.

Just how revolutionary is Heath's Joker? Could this performance possibly measure up to the hype? (Could anyone's?) And how will the shadow of his untimely drug-overdose death affect how we see him on-screen, all murder and mayhem?

Well, the moment has finally come - the film's out Friday. Advance buzz cites the late actor's unhinged portrayal of Batman's archnemesis as the definitive interpretation of the role, with whispers of a posthumous Oscar nomination.

Clad in smeared clown makeup and grotesque, grin-shaped prosthetic scars, he turns the character once played for camp into a believably horrifying specter - more urban terrorist than supervillain.

It was always going to be a notable part, but Ledger's death spawned a whole new level of feverish interest in the film. Rumors swirled that the actor's single-minded devotion to turning in the performance of a lifetime actually cost him his life. Ledger had taken Method acting too far, reports suggested; he'd been holing up in a hotel room for days on end to hone his character, keeping a journal in the voice of the Joker, and surrendering his easygoing nature to the bleak, anarchic perspective of the psychopath he was playing.

While those hyperbolic rumors were never confirmed, the work Ledger put into creating an entirely new take on the Joker is unmistakable. He had decades of Batman material to draw on - particularly the graphic novels "The Dark Knight Returns" and "The Killing Joke," which the screenwriters have cited as inspirations - but Ledger decided early on to take the character in a more uniquely subversive direction; he honed a new voice, posture, walk and series of facial tics for the role. He even tried applying his own makeup, wondering if his amateurish streaking would create a more unbalanced effect.

The result is a screen turn possibly more memorable than anything the Oscar-nominated Ledger had accomplished previously. It would be his final completed role; at the time of his death he was shooting Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," though the part was never completed and it's not known yet what Gilliam will do with the footage.

When "Dark Knight" cast and crew members gathered to discuss the film late last month, it was clear that everyone involved was as captivated, on a daily basis, by Ledger's on-set performance as moviegoers are bound to be.

Christopher Nolan (director): I'd met Heath before, a couple of times, and when he heard we were doing the Joker he came to meet with me and said he was interested in doing it. I knew he was an extraordinary actor from his other work, and I knew from sitting there talking to him that he'd figured out how he could do this. We talked about what that Joker would need to be in this telling of the story. We talked about ideas of anarchy and chaos. We talked about the character of Alex in "A Clockwork Orange" as someone who's terrifying to the audience, and yet oddly charismatic.

Christian Bale (Batman): I had worked on a movie with Heath, "I'm Not There," about a year before. And I had spoken with him before we started ["Dark Knight"] and spoken with Chris about Heath's ideas, so I knew we were going to be getting this very different portrayal. Our Gotham is not in any way looking for caricatures. We're not looking for actors to be giving a nod and a wink to the audience and showing how much the actor is enjoying playing this caricature. We want people to stay underneath it and disappear inside of the role.

Christopher Nolan: I'm not sure [casting him as the Joker] would have occurred to me, because it was a very unusual matchup. I would have assumed that he wouldn't be interested.

Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent): I read the script, and I was summoned into the Great Office of Chris Nolan, and I knew that Heath was playing the Joker, so I thought, well, that was it.

Christopher Nolan: Heath was absolutely instrumental in figuring out how to make the iconography of the character balance with the human side of the character - not to humanize him, but to make him credible. Because it's a very human sort of evil.

Heath spent a lot of time figuring out very meticulously how that character would move, and speak, and so forth. I would speak to him a lot about his character cutting through the film the way the shark in "Jaws" cuts through the narrative.

Jonathan Nolan (co-writer): I felt like Heath took it to a whole different, extraordinary place. I almost feel like he just took authorship over the whole thing. I'm just glad to have been along for the ride.

When he was finally suited up for the role, Ledger was deliciously unnerving, inspiring admiration from cast and crew members alike - even veteran psycho Gary Oldman.

Emma Thomas (producer): Right from the moment he started shooting, the first day he was on set being that character, I think everyone on the crew knew that this was something really special.

Bale: The first scene we shot was in the interrogation room, with the two of us. That was great, because we were allowed to be by ourselves, without any crew inside the room. It was just the two of us inside there, with mirrors all the way around us. Everywhere we looked there were these two freaks sitting at a table eyeballing each other.

I felt that I was seeing in Heath somebody who got the same enjoyment from acting as I do, just recognizing the ridiculousness of what we do, as grown men pretending to be other people, but loving that ridiculousness. [In that scene] you get to see clearly what an opponent he's going to be, when Batman beats the Joker and realizes that with every punch he's landing, the Joker's smile is getting bigger and bigger.

Gary Oldman (Lt. James Gordon): From the very first get-go, I thought to myself, "F - - - ing hell, this kid's good." It's almost like he's tuned into a radio station frequency that we can't hear.

Christopher Nolan: On film sets, the crew members are great mimics, and when an actor delivers a memorable line, very often you hear it parroted endlessly. No one was able to do his voice. A lot of people tried. He's working in a very high register and a very low register. I think what he's managed to put together is this combination, an unpredictability to how the voice shifts and how the tone shifts that's very hard to get a handle on. I think it's very unique.

Eckhart: The Joker's mind really didn't fly on any straight line, it was always going everywhere. [Heath] really kept that alive by talking to himself and by doing the things an actor does to keep it alive. It's interesting, because whenever I've done that, the crew thought I was crazy.

In one scene, the Joker crashes a fund-raiser for Harvey Dent, Gotham City's star district attorney. After stalking Maggie Gyllenhaal's Rachel Dawes - the love interest of both Wayne and Dent - the Joker eventually dangles her out a window.

Gyllenhaal: I could feel, as soon as I started working with him, that he was in this place which is so rare, even for the greatest actors, where he was absolutely free. And when you can hit that stride, you know, it rubs off on everyone around you. It was totally rubbing off on me. Acting with someone who's totally free is what everyone wants to do, always, and you never get to. So even though it was a terrifying scene, scary and full of tension, I had a really good time. I only did that one scene with him, but it was so fun. When you're in that place, you can do no wrong.

The last day Eckhart shot with Ledger was a scene in Gotham's hospital. Harvey Dent, lying half-burned in a bed, is paid a visit by the Joker, who's snuck in under the hospital's radar in a nurse's outfit.

Thomas: There was one day where he came into the room and he had tried on that nurse's outfit, and he had those socks on, and he walked across the room and it was like, "Oh my goodness, that's the Joker right there!"

Eckhart: He was like a rocket. He raised the roof. To see what Heath was doing with the Joker, everybody was watching him as a fan. I was watching him as a fan while I was acting with him! I know that people are thinking it went dark, but that was Heath's job, you know, to be dark inside of himself. But he was actually thrilling to watch.

Christopher Nolan: I remember very distinctly him shooting the scene in the hospital with Aaron, and really just coming up with idea after idea, just putting a little something fresh, a little detail into that character. [The nurse's outfit] was just something I thought he would get a kick out of, and he did. It was something he was very excited about doing.

Eckhart: We weren't sure how we were going to play that scene. It was very sexy [laughs]. Certainly that day, he was the Joker all day. But I felt like the crew was so with Heath, everybody was. After the day was over, we shook hands and said, "That's why I act - to look at you act, and to work together like that."

Christopher Nolan: We really wanted to deconstruct things, movie-wise, a little bit. We wanted to have the scene where the Joker walks out of the [hospital] in front of an explosion, which is a very familiar cinematic trope, and we wanted to do it on a bigger scale than anyone's ever done it before. But we wanted to undercut it somehow, to not allow that to be the big trailer moment. Putting him in drag seemed a good way to make it a little more Joker-ish, a little more anarchic.

We rehearsed it for hours and hours because obviously it was a one-take scene. The building was blowing up for real. He hit every mark absolutely perfectly and never looked back. I talked to him about it afterwards - to hear this building exploding behind you, but not be able to turn back and look at it, is a very difficult thing.

Rumors shortly after his death suggested that Ledger became too invested in his self-destructive role and internalized the character's darkness. But co-workers say that was far from the truth - that the actor knew how to turn off the psychosis when the cameras weren't rolling.

Christopher Nolan: He was a very fine actor, and an actor's job is to create an artificial reality while the camera is running. Of the actors I've worked with, he was one of the easiest, most delightful presences on set. Not at all, you know, dark and intense when he didn't need to be. Very easygoing and very kind to everybody around him, which is certainly not the Joker. It's a real testament to his skill to see how utterly unlike him, and the way he saw the world, this character is.

Oldman: People want to find a darker story here, and I mean, I don't know about substance abuse, or what was happening, but I never saw any. I saw an actor who was on time, knew his lines, was committed to the part and in between those takes was someone who would sit on the curb and smoke a cigarette and have a laugh and talk about his daughter Matilda. It wasn't someone who was so contaminated and weirded out with the part that they went mad.

Ledger died three months after the film wrapped shooting. Although there were reports that Nolan hadn't finished recording additional dialogue for the Joker, the director says he had everything he needed. Ledger's co-stars, meanwhile, were blown away when they finally saw the film.

Christopher Nolan: I felt a great responsibility to finish the performance, to put the performance together in the way in which he intended it to be seen. And the thing that's a relief to me is that people seem to be responding to it very much the way he'd intended it.

Oldman: There are actors, in their careers, it's like they're going along subsonic and then they go supersonic. They go through the sound barrier. You've got Jack Nicholson in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and you've got Al Pacino in "Dog Day Afternoon." They can't do it all the time, but you watch these great performances, and this is one of them. I think that what you're responding to in this movie is Heath's total commitment to the role. I never see an actor - I feel that I'm always watching the Joker. There's no vanity about the role.

Bale: I can't help but be just impressed beyond belief with what he did, because it's such an iconic villain. I have no idea how, if Chris chooses to make a third movie, how he's going to make a better villain than what Heath came up with.

Oldman: I've never been in a situation like this, where you've a got a premiere coming up and you're thinking, "Well, he's not going to be there, and how am I going to feel when I see it?" And I really honestly just forgot he had died, watching this performance. You think he's gonna get an Oscar? He won't have to do all that f - - -ing campaigning.

Bale: I wish to God he was sitting here with us talking about it. I view this movie as an incredible celebration of his talent, and absolutely tragic that it is the last complete work that he did. I have wonderful memories of working with him and of the great company that the man was himself.

Oldman: I call it the cosmic s - - -hammer. I do. It's like, come on down, it's your turn. I just really think it was a very sad, tragic accident. But in the words of Sid Vicious, "If you're gonna go, then go out in a blaze of glory." This is a blaze of glory.

1 comment:

Brack said...

Thanks for linking to my death of anime panels post, but you've incorrectly credited it to Japanator.