Tuesday, August 5, 2008

News - 08/05/08...

Monsters Vs. Aliens trailer

A leaked bootleg trailer of Monsters vs. Aliens, a 3-D DreamWorks Animation production. It comes to US theaters March 27, 2009.

Disney buys some 'M.A.N.' love

Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman's high-concept comic 'Monster Attack Network' is set for development by Disney, according to today's Variety.

The book, published by AiT/PlanetLar tells of a task forced designed to safeguard a tropical island during routine attacks by the indigent giant sea monsters.

Jason Netter of Kickstart Entertainment, the folks behind 'Wanted' and 'Painkiller Jane' is set to produce.

'Miki Falls' for Paramount

Mark Crilley's Manga series 'Miki Falls' is now in development by Paramount Pictures, with Brad Pitt producing, according to Variety.

The studio has acquired the film rights to the Harper Collins series for Pitt's Plan B. Sera Gamble of 'Supernatural' and 'Project Greenlight' fame is set to pen the script.

According to Variety Crilley's story focuses on, "the final year of high school for Miki Yoshida, the series’ protag who tries to befriend handsome new student Hiro Sakurai but is met with resistance. Stubborn Miki, however, refuses to take no for an answer, which leads to a surprising revelation about the secretive young man."

"Dark Knight" star Morgan Freeman seriously injured in car crash

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman was hospitalized in serious condition Monday after the car he was driving left a rural road in the Mississippi Delta and flipped several times.

Freeman, 71, was airlifted to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn., about 90 miles north of the accident in rural Tallahatchie County.

The actor "has a broken arm, broken elbow and minor shoulder damage, but is in good spirits," according to a statement from Donna Lee, Freeman's publicist. A hospital spokeswoman said Freeman was in serious condition but would not discuss his injuries.

"He is having a little bit of surgery this afternoon or tomorrow to help correct the damage," Lee's statement said. "He says he'll be OK and is looking forward to a full recovery."

Freeman, who won an Oscar for his role in "Million Dollar Baby," is among the stars in "The Dark Knight," now in theaters. His screen credits also include "Driving Miss Daisy."

Freeman and a companion were traveling on a dark, two-lane highway that cuts through the expansive farmlands of the Mississippi Delta when the car ran off the side of the road shortly before midnight Sunday, authorities said. The vehicle flipped several times but landed upright in a ditch alongside Mississippi Highway 32, about 5 miles west of Charleston, not far from where Freeman owns a home with his wife.

Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Ben Williams said rescuers had to use the jaws of life to remove Freeman from the car.

"He was lucid, conscious. He was talking, joking with some of the rescue workers at one point," said Clay McFerrin, editor of Sun Sentinel in Charleston, who arrived at the scene soon after the accident happened.

McFerrin said it appeared Freeman's car was airborne when it left the highway.

Bystanders converged on the accident scene trying to get a glimpse of the actor, McFerrin said.

When one person tried to snap a photo with a cell phone camera, Freeman joked, "no freebies, no freebies," McFerrin said.

Williams said Freeman was driving a 1997 Nissan Maxima that belonged to Demaris Meyer of Memphis.

"There's no indication that either alcohol or drugs were involved," Williams said. He said both Freeman and Meyer were wearing seat belts. The woman's condition was not immediately available.

Freeman was born in Memphis, Tenn., but spent much of his childhood in the Mississippi Delta. He is a co-owner of the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale.

"I'm definitely concerned," country singer and fellow Mississippian Steve Azar, whose video for his hit "Waitin' on Joe" featured Freeman, said Monday. The two have also worked charity events together. "He's been the best ambassador our state has ever had."

"He could live anywhere in the world and he came back home," Azar said. "I just think it shows a lot about him as a person and how grounded he is."

The hospital where Freeman is being treated is commonly known as The Med, and is an acute-care teaching facility that serves patients within 150 miles of Memphis.

Collider Interviews voice director Andrea Romano - BATMAN: BRAVE AND THE BOLD

At Comic Con, Collider had the chance to talk with upcoming animated series BATMAN : THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD voice director Andrea Romano. Romano had plenty to say about casting BATMAN for a seventh time! (BATMAN TAS, THE BATMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER… ) She gushed about the talent of new BAT Diedrich Bader. And Collider’s own Nico hijacks the interview with his secret agenda—that Andre seems to agree with—of a possible ANIMANIACS return to the small screen….

Jonah: So… casting a new Batman?

Andrea Romano:
Again, again. Y’know, someone told me the other day I’ve done it seven times now. And it’s hard every single time ‘cause it’s an awesome responsibility the first time you do it. That was a three month process finding Kevin Conroy the first time. This one was a little bit easier, again I know the character better, certainly, and they gave me a better idea up front of what they were gonna do with this and how it was gonna be more comic: a lighter twist on the Batman, which is nice because if you keep repeating yourself you don’t grow as an artist or a person or whatever. So I felt like, “Great, let’s do something different.” And frankly, when they told me what it needed to be, I thought that I still needed someone with that bass in their voice. I still need someone that has got that strength to scare criminals. But, I need someone who’s got those comic overtones as well. And my gut instinct was, “Y’know, Diedrich Bader could do this. I know he can do this.” Then after going through the whole artist process that I do, everybody else decided Diedrich Bader was the right guy. So that was a good thing.

Jonah: When did you first work with him?

Andrea Romano:
Zeta. The Zeta Project. And of course I knew his on camera work. You know what I loved him in too? It’s funny; I’ve known him for a long time and one of my favorite movies from the last few years and was just sort of one of those wild things was NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. And I’m watching it and I’m looking at this character thinking, “Oh my god that’s SUCH a great character! So funny!” And then we were all talking about it a couple of weeks later and he (Diedrich) goes, “Oh yeah. When I was playing…” And I said,” What?!?” And he (Diedrich) said, “When I was playing…” And I said, “THAT was you?” I had no idea it was Diedrich. I just didn’t put it together. And I’d know him for years. It was just such a different voice he was using, such a different physicality he was using and I was so impressed because that movie s so silly and wonderful. I have a VOTE FOR PEDRO T-shirt myself.

Jonah: What’s next on tap for you?

Andrea Romano:
I’ve got a bunch of things. I just finished AVATAR. Wrapped for Nickelodeon, which was great fun. I’m still doing SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, which I’ve been doing for only about two years. And it is just one of the joys of my life. It was amazing compliment when they came to me and said, “Will you take over our number series and be the voice director.” And I had missed that kind of silly, fun show. I’ve been doing a lot of action, and I missed that laughing, silly, musical aspect too so it was fun to have that. So, there’s SPONGEBOB, I’m doing some game work with WIZARD ENTERTAINMENT for SATRCRAFT 2. I’m working on that one and there’s always a bunch of different ancillary projects. There’s a LEGO BATMAN project that I’m working on and always the DC COMICS direct to video projects, whether it’s WONDER WOMAN or DOOMSDAY or the ones that are coming up: GREEN LANTERN, whatever is coming up. I keep busy. It keeps me out of trouble.

Jonah: How many episodes are confirmed for BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD?

Andrea Romano:
They have 26 episodes which I believe will only be one season.

Jonah: As opposed to the new 13 episode half seasons?

Andrea Romano:
But you never know. It’s one of those odd things. Until it hits the air, you never know what’s really going to happen. Once it hits the air, and they realize that the audience wants more, sooner and you’re holding them up by not giving them more and they change their plans. Then they air more which is the way I like to see them.

Jonah: Last question, what other animated series on TV that you are NOT voice directing is done well?

Andrea Romano:
I love THE SIMPSONS. They are so creative. I quote THE SIMPSONS constantly. My husband and I, in any given situation we’ll have a reaction that is actually a line from an episode. They’re stunning. I know almost every one of the actors on there and I’ve worked with some of them on different things and I’m so happy for them, for their success, because they deserve it all. It’s remarkable. That’s probably my favorite animated show.

Jonah: Thanks again.

Andrea Romano: My pleasure.

Nico: I loved ANIMANIACS.

Andrea Romano:
Oh I do too. And I miss it. And I miss PINKY AND THE BRAIN too. You know what? There’s this thing in animation that I’m noticing where the fans actually begin such a program of bombarding a network. “We want. We want! Like… FAMILY GUY.” That they started bringing back series. So get your friends to write e-mails…

Jonah: The ANIMANIACS DVD is selling like hotcakes.

Andrea Romano: It is but, ANIMANIACS is all tied up with STEVEN SPIELBERG and I think Steven is a great guy and if the fans REALLY wanted it then he would do it. Thank you guys.

Jonah and Nico:
Thank you.

Ben Jones, Brandon Vietti, and Michael Chang Interview – BATMAN: Brave and the Bold Animation Directors

At Comic Con this past week, Collider had the chance to talk with upcoming animated series BATMAN : THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD Animation Directors: Ben Jones, Brandon Vietti, and Michael Chang. The buzz word for the show is fun. Even if, according to Michael Chang, some internet fanboys have already dismissed the show as being “for babies!”

I got confirmation on several characters appearing this season, including GREEN LANTERNS TOMAR-RE and KILOWOG, RED TORNADO, and DR. FATE. Brandon, Ben, Michael, and Collider’s own Nico – who seems intent on interrupting ALL of my interviews—also had plenty to say about their favorite BATMAN stories, fighting over who gets to handle which characters, and how no one get’s to play with the Demon’s head.
Enjoy the interview…

Jonah: First, I’m a huge fan of the original animated series, I’m working on liking the new series. Sell me on THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD.

Ben Jones:
It’s different from the original.

Jonah: Obviously.

Ben Jones:
But, I think if you look at the history of the BATMAN in comic books, we’re just taking a sort of different decade than the Animated (BATMAN TAS) did. We’re just sort of stopping at the new look from the seventies and focusing on all the untouched stuff as well like the Dick Sprang stuff.

Michael Chang: That’s a tricky question you ask too because some fans are going to have to want to be open to a new BATMAN. Cause I’m right there with you, I think. I’m in animation because of BTAS (BATMAN TAS), and I was lucky enough to get to work with Bruce (Timm) on THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN ADVENTURES, then went on to THE BATMAN, and now this one. And I think, myself, when I heard we were doing a third round on the BATMAN I was like, “How?”

Jonah: How do you reinvent him AGAIN?

Michael Chang:
Exactly. But I think, even as a fan myself, and just being lucky enough to work on it -- I think I was able see what Michael and Sam had been cooking up, and like what Ben said about pulling from a different decade of influence for the BATMAN, it just clicked right away. There’re the fun aspects of it. It still has drama. I know we’ve been throwing the word “fun” around a lot.

Jonah: Terrible word! Don’t use it ever again. We fans don’t want BATMAN to be fun!

Michael Chang:
No, that’s true. From what I’ve been reading online, some fans are like, “Fun?!? It’s gonna be for babies!” But you know, no. It’s fun but not too funny, or real silly. It’s definitely got a lot of dramatic punch to it still despite the fun aspects of it. It’s gonna be good for a really broad range from new kids that really don’t know about BATMAN to the older fans who grew up with BTAS, this is kind of a refreshing new take on it. Should be good for everybody.

Jonah: Did any of you come to this as comic book fans originally? Were any of you thinking, “Oh my god, BATMAN and PLASTICMAN have to hang out”?

Ben Jones:
I think we all grew up reading comics, and I think all of us thought that working on something called “THE BATMAN” sounded really awesome.

Jonah: Did you all play nice with each other?

Michael Chang:
Well, the thing is, we all sort of alternate episodes. So really all we have to do as far as working with each other is, if Gentleman Ghost is in an episode I’ll have to find out how his powers work so that it’ll be consistent throughout.

Ben Jones: there’s only one episode that’s a two parter that Michael has the first part of. There’s not a lot of heavy continuity.

Michael Chang: For the most part, they’re very stand alone episodes.

Ben Jones: At the same time, we’re trying to establish the whole show as this “world.” So, we’ll often see each other’s storyboards to see what the other director’s up to stylistically or see what he’s doing with a particular character so that we don’t do anything redundant and so that it will all be consistent.

Jonah: So you are or you aren’t stealing from each other?

Ben Jones:
We all steal from all sorts of places. Not just each other, that would get old. So we steal from all sorts of places.

Jonah: Are you finished with all 26 episodes?

Michael Chang:
Not yet. We’re about halfway through.

Jonah: So about 13 episodes in? So, what’s you favorite episode so far, then?

Michael Chang:
They’re all great!

Jonah: C’mon. That’s SUCH a PC answer.

Michael Chang:
It so is.

Ben Jones: Well, one thing is, I like show 10, but I can’t talk about it.

Michael Chang: Well, actually (Michael) Jelenic dropped that one. It’s the Green Lantern Corps episode. So for ME that was pretty… pretty awesome!

Jonah: And it’s 60s-70s Green Lantern Corps? So you’ve got…?

Ben Jones:
It’s like how with the guest stars we’ve got the new BLUE BEETLE, but the silver age GREEN ARROW. It’s a pretty wide swath of Green Lantern Corps. There’s some of the new ones… some of the old ones…

Jonah: Do we get Kyle (Rayner) or do we get Hal (Jordan)?

Ben Jones:
I don’t think I can answer that. I can’t talk about any of the Earth Green Lanterns, but I can maybe spill…

Jonah: Do we get Kilowog and Tomar-Re?

Ben Jones:
Yes and yes.

Jonah: Yes and Yes?

Ben Jones:
Yeah. How about that?

Jonah: I’ll take it.

At this point publicist James Finch worries that we might be learning all the secrets of the BATCAVE, and so he interrupts.

James Finch: What are we spilling?

Jonah: He’s telling me about aliens.

Ben Jones:
It’s all about Green Lanterns.

James Finch: Okay.

Brandon Vietti: Actually, he’s telling the plot of every episode. I’m getting animatics and storyboards. I’m not even gonna watch the show.

Ben Jones: I gave him the FTP site and the password…

James Finch: No animatics.

Ben Jones: … keys to the ranch…

Jonah: Anything else I need to know other than it’s about BATMAN, so as a fan I’m obviously gonna watch the show?

Ben Jones:
Well, tell your friends!

Jonah: I’ll give you a very favorable write up. So when does the show air?

Michael Chang: I think November 14th?

Brandon Vietti: It’s the first week of November. We don’t have an exact date or time. And it’s CARTOON NETWORK in the fall.

Jonah: It IS CARTOON NETWORK? I thought it was supposed to be CW?

Brandon Vietti:
It is CARTOON NETWORK both domestic and international.

Nico: Is there anyone you didn’t get to team him up with in the first twenty-six episodes that you want to in the future?

Ben Jones:
Well, me personally, probably, like…..

Michael Chang: DR. FATE?

Ben Jones: We did DR. FATE.

Jonah: Ah, so you (Ben) wanted DR. FATE?

Michael Chang:
Well, yeah.

Ben Jones: You should’ve told me.

Jonah: So did you guys arm wrestle for who got to do which episode? Or did you try to just “out geek” each other? Well this element is from this issue from this date?

Ben Jones:
No, it just got assigned to us. And he got the RED TORNADO episode that I wanted. It was just based on scheduling. And there’s nothing you can do about it. But RED TORNADO shows up later, so I got him.

Michael Chang: Dr. Fate doesn’t…

Jonah: How pleased were you with Andrea’s casting? Any people in particular that you really enjoyed? Anyone, that made you think, “That is so dead on! That is exactly what that character should sound like.”?

Ben Jones:
Not really I mean we had…

Brandon Vietti: R. Lee Ermey.

Ben Jones: R. Lee Ermey, and that was amazing. We got to hear his voice and then we got to hear him talk about FULL METAL JACKET in his downtime.

Michael Chang: It’s just weird that he’s real.

Ben Jones: I know!

Jonah: He’s not real. He’s a puppet, right?


Jonah: Are there any other animated shows you guys watch?

Ben Jones: I think VENTURE BROTHERS is the best show on TV, animated or not.

Jonah: Wow, strong words. You?

Michael Chang:
GOSSIP GIRL? No. I worked on AVATAR, so I enjoy that show.

Brandon Vietti: Animated? Spider-Man.

Jonah: Yeah, I was NOT sold on the first few episodes, but by the end I really dug it. Anything on the horizon?

Ben Jones:

Jonah: Nothing else you do, this show is just your entire lives?

Ben Jones:
Pretty much. Any time you would spend looking for another job, you send working on this one.

Nico: What was your favorite comic book arc in Batman?

Ben Jones:
Can I go a little modern? There’s a miniseries about Arkham Asylum by Dan Slott and Ryan Sook. That was awesome.

Nico: That WAS cool.

Ben Jones: And the guy came up with something like a half dozen new BATMAN villains which is practically impossible. And they were pretty good. I didn’t believe it was possible and he did it. That’s my choice.

Brandon Vietti: DARK KNIGHT got me into it.

Jonah: I think that book got most of us into BATMAN.

Michael Chang:
Me too. And right around that time Jim Parr’s run on DETECTIVE COMICS. I was following that.

Jonah: Is there a character you didn’t get that you wanted? Ben clearly wanted RED TORNADO and Michael clearly wanted DR. FATE. Were you upset you didn’t get GORILLA GRODD?

Brandon Vietti: One of us that I don’t think any of us gets to work with, ‘cause I don’t think we’ve got the rights to it is RA’S AL GHUL. I’d love to get a story with that.

Ben Jones: I actually think that we could, it just all depends on what James (Tucker) wants to do really.

Michael Chang: It’s all up to James (Tucker).

Ben Jones: You didn’t get to use him in THE BATMAN either, did you?

Michael Chang: No. Cause of the movie. A lot of times if there’s a character that’s already going on in the movie. Then we cannot touch it.

Jonah: Is THE BATMAN completely over now?

Michael Chang:
Yeah. It did well though, five seasons.

Jonah: And just when it started to be fun.

Michael Chang:
Glad you liked it.

Jonah: I did. I did NOT like the first season at all. I did not like it. I’m not gonna lie. I’m not gonna pretend otherwise.

Michael Chang:

Jonah: But the last few seasons were good.

Michael Chang:
It did get progressively better.

Jonah: I’m sure a lot of that was just me though. It was a shock to my idea of BATMAN. Who is this guy? He’s not Kevin Conroy!?! And WHY does the Joker have dreadlocks??? And that was the problem at first, but I still have the last few seasons on my Tivo.

Michael Chang:

Jonah: Well, thanks a lot you guys. Looking forward to the show.

Ben Jones:
Best of luck to you.

Downey is mum on character cameos for 'Iron Man 2'

LatinoReview quizzed Robert Downey Jr. for info about 'Iron Man 2' at the recent 'Tropic Thunder' press junket. The actor was, however, tight-lipped about which, if any, Marvel heroes might cameo in the sequel.

"It's such a big leap, before we were grounded in reality and now we're starting to go into the Marvel Universe. I don't know much about this, I just know that we go scene to scene to scene, and we have some great scenes which I think will be really surprising at how we took all of this goodwill and this success and we decided to do something ever more kind of risky and something that represents the way Jon thinks and the way I like to develop a character. So, it's going to be good," Downey said.

When asked specifically about Captain America or Thor, Downey said, " I can neither confirm nor deny that. Honestly, nothing's set in stone right now."

However the actor did flatly deny any appearance by 'The Incredible Hulk'.

An Evening With Ace Animator Eric Goldberg

Eric Goldberg has done just about everything a person can do in animation. Things like ...

* Heading up your own company (Pizzazz Animation).
* Being the directing animator on an
iconic Disney character.
* Co-directing a blockbuster
animated feature.
* Conceptualizing then executing a knockout Fantasia 2000

And now, Mr. Goldberg will be hosting a book-signing of his tome:

The Creative Talent Network and Samuel French Bookshops invites anyone within hailing distance of this post to join Eric Goldberg at a reception and booksigning in Studio City Wednesday August 6th to celebrate the publication of Character Animation Crash Course. Food and drink will be served.

The Place: Samuel French Theatre and Film Bookshop
The Location: 11963 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604
The phone number (of the Place): (818) 762-0535
The Time: 7-9 PM

Be there if you can.

Think happy, friendly thoughts about Eric if you can't.

(thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Jason Statham wants to be 'Daredevil'

Geoff Boucher over at the Hero Complex blog at L.A.Times bumped into 'Death Race' actor Jason Statham who was having a pint with 'The Spirit' director Frank Miller.

The subject turned to 'Daredevil' a character Miller has been acknowledged as revitalizing in the 1980s. Statham said he'd love to play the blind ninja badass on the big screen. "Absolutely, just give me the chance, I would love to be Daredevil," Staham is quoted as saying.

Boucher suggested he might make a better Bullseye than hero.

Statham's response: "Forget Bullseye, I want to be Daredevil!"

Miller nodded. "I think he should be Daredevil too."

Marvel to post higher profit on "Iron Man" licensing

Marvel Entertainment Inc is expected to post a 26 percent rise in second-quarter profit on the strength of its licensing business, which is expected to benefit from merchandising related to its successful "Iron Man" movie.

Tuesday's second-quarter report will be the first quarter after the comic-book publisher started releasing its first self-produced films.

But analysts are really tuned to the third and fourth quarters, when most expect Marvel to reap the rewards from its first movie titles, and will be looking for potential outlook comments.

Marvel is expected to possibly increase its outlook for the year and give more clarity about when revenue from its films will be reflected on its income statement.

"The story really is about the film business. Everything else is the same old Marvel," Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

In April, Marvel entered Hollywood film-making with "Iron Man," its first self-produced film, that had the second-biggest non-sequel box office opening in history.

"Iron Man," which was distributed by Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures, has made $315.7 million in domestic box office so far, according to Box Office Mojo.

The movie was followed by "The Incredible Hulk," far-less successful, but still expected to bring in a moderate profit.

Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey said, "Given that 'Iron Man' has been a fairly incredible success, we would like to see the recognition of that in their financial performance -& if not for the period, for the upcoming periods." Before it started making its own films, Marvel's main revenue streams had been licensing and publishing. The high-margin licensing business accounted for three-quarters of its revenue in the first quarter, while publishing made up most of the rest.

The film business is expected to diversify Marvel's revenue streams and could become its biggest segment in the long-term.

Both Hickey and RBC Capital Markets analyst David Banks expect Marvel, a company that tends to be conservative in its forecasts, to increase its outlook for the year. "Historically, they haven't incorporated the impact of their movies into their outlook and I think they will probably have to revise that at this point. I would think the bias would be towards the upside," Banks said. Banks said he expects a strong performance in both publishing and licensing segments.

But Wedbush Morgan's Pachter said the shares will fall if they don't raise their outlook. The stock is generally volatile on days when it reports quarterly earnings.

Analysts are unclear about when Marvel will book revenue and profit from the movies, with some expecting that to happen when the company announces second-quarter results.

Analysts expect second-quarter revenue of $130.2 million, a 24.5 percent rise from the year-ago period, according to Reuters Estimates. ANALYSTS REMAIN CAUTIOUS

The average analyst recommendation for Marvel is "hold," according to Reuters data, but the shares have risen 47 percent in the last 52 weeks, with most of the gains coming from the weeks leading up to the launch of its first movies.

The average analyst stock price target is $32.70, well below the $37.41 year-high hit on June 11.

And there is concern that the stock lacks potential drivers, given there are no film releases slated for 2009.

"The next movie that comes out is in the summer of 2010 and that doesn't allow for a whole lot of catalysts between now and then," Banks said.

New Tale Of Despereaux poster

A new one-sheet for The Tale Of Despereaux has appeared on Internet Movie Poster Awards. The poster features a book illustration look to it, perhaps because it is an adaption of Kate DiCammillo’s children’s novel of the same name. The Tale Of Despereaux opens in theaters this Christmas.

LA Times on Disney's Plans for "Tinker Bell"

The Los Angeles Times has taken a look at Disney's big push to make the Disney Fairies into a franchise to challenge their wildly successful Disney Princesses line, with Tinker Bell leading the charge. According to the article, Disney made $800 million in retail sales of Tinker Bell merchandise last year (vs. projected worldwide sales of $4 billion this year for the Princesses), and is more popular than Pixar icons Woody or Nemo or even Peter Pan himself.

The article also briefly notes the troubles the direct-to-video Tinker Bell movie has had over the past several years, noting that "the script underwent at least 20 revisions. Early versions of the movie told a convoluted tale about Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, included fart jokes and turned Tinker Bell into a 'brat,' said a person familiar with the project." The movie was essentially redone by John Lasseter and director Bradley Raymond to trace the origins of Tinker Bell and explain their connection to nature.

Megatron May Return as a...

CHUD has posted an interesting story on how Megatron might return in Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, opening in theaters on June 26, 2009. Here's a clip:

OK, I don't think there's a soul out there who will be surprised when Megatron returns in Transformers 2. If the current incarnation of the script follows the beats of a previous incarnation (which did not feature The Fallen), Megatron may be getting brought back by the Autobots, who need him to conquer the new menace. But I've learned that this time he won't be that weird alien jet.

Go here for more on this.

More about the Meteorites

A month ago, Steve posted about this. From Friday's New York Post:

A GROUP of digital-effects artists wants Brendan Fraser's help in getting paid for the work they did on his movie, Journey to the Center of the Earth.

The artists are hoping that as the star of the film, which has grossed $76.5 million in three weeks, Fraser can pressure Discovery Communications, which owns the Discovery Channel as well as Evergreen Films in Pacific Palisades. They're asking for back pay they're owed from Evergreen subsidiary Meteor Studios, which handled the digital work.

Dave Rand, a spokesman for the special-effects crew, says they never got paid for three months of work in the fall of 2007.

"Meteor Studios was declared bankrupt shortly after filming," Rand told Page Six. "It has since reopened as a new company, Lumiere VFX, at the same location. Discovery is attempting to get away with this. Some of the employees worked over 100-hour weeks. Over $1 million is owed."

Rand tells us he persuaded the workers to stay and work when the paychecks weren't rolling in because he believed Meteor would pay up eventually. He said,
"They would give me excuses like, 'There's an accounting glitch,' and, 'The checks will be here in a couple of days.' "

The unpaid artists don't blame Walden Media, which hired Meteor Studios for the digital work, or New Line, which distributed the movie. Instead, they're focusing on deep-pocketed Discovery.

"We just want to get paid for the work we performed," said Rand. "We are extremely proud of our work on the film.

"Many of these guys are scared they will be blacklisted, so I'm speaking out on their behalf." He adds that trade magazines including Variety have ignored his pleas to cover the story.

Reps for Fraser, Discovery, Meteor, Lumiere and Walden did not return our calls and e-mails for a comment.

But for an interesting change of pace, someone actually seems to have stepped up to the plate. A followup from yesterday's paper:

BRENDAN Fraser is trying to help nearly 100 digital-effects artists get paid for their work on Journey to the Center of the Earth. We reported Friday the artists are owed nearly $1 million by a bankrupt subsidiary of Discovery Communications. Fraser's rep says he has been making calls to help them get paid. "Brendan just heard about this for the first time. He's on it. He thinks what happened is awful, and he's extremely upset," said the representative.

Good for Brendan Fraser, we say.

(thanks Animation Guild Blog)

'The Big Push'

Ian Fenton's brilliant little one-minute dissertation on locomotive grannies is in the running for the Virgin Media Shorts 2008 title to be judged by a panel headed by Lex "Keyser Söze" Luthor himself, Kevin Spacey. If The Big Push happens to win, Ian will net a cool £30,000 and the opportunity to work with Virgin Media and the UK Film Council on his next 60 second opus.

Animation World Magazine Talks Indie Animation with Nina Paley and Bill Plympton

Animation World Magazine has published a feature article about the two independent animated feature films released this year: Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues and Bill Plympton's Idiots & Angels. The two discuss the respective inspirations for their films, the challenges they face as small, independent animators, and why they went for feature-length films rather than shorts.

IESB Posts Katzenberg Presentation from DreamWorks Studio Tour

IESB.net has posted the text of a presentation given by Jeffrey Katzenberg at a tour of the DreamWorks Animation studios. Katzenberg discusses the changes that have occurred in the market and in technology that is behind his major push to release all upcoming DreamWorks movies in digital 3-D.

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