Monday, August 25, 2008

News - 08/25/08...

A Public Service Announcement from Yogi Bear

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Hot Summer B.O.

The animated Clone Wars tailspins to seventh place -- and a $21 million total -- as House Bunny, lacklustre reviews trailing behind its fluffy tale, pushes holdovers down a notch.

Bunny gathers in $5,850,000 while second place Tropic Thunder makes $4,825,000 on its way to a $54.4 million total after ten days of release ...

New entry
Death Race claims the third position and bragging rights to $4.6 million on its first day of release.

The Dark Knight closes in on $500 million (domestic) as it clings to the fourth position and collects another $3 million. Wowsers.

Add On: Daily Variety reports
Tropic Thunder
, after a second-place Friday finish, gunned its way back to First Place:

Tropic Thunder retained the weekend B.O. crown, slipping just 38% to collect $16.1 million.

Before Tropic Thunder, only The Dark Knight and Iron Man had managed to stay in the top spot for more than a week this summer. And only two previous studio summer titles, Mamma Mia! and What Happens in Vegas, had seen second-week drops of less than 40%.

The $90 million Ben Stiller sendup of Hollywood had a stellar Saturday, jumping 25% over its Friday level to gross $6.5 million. That propelled it past Sony's female-skewing The House Bunny, which finished second at $15.1 million ...

On the animated side of the weekend box office, Clone Wars ends up at the fifth position after a 61.3% decline, with a total $25 million box office cume.

Three-Dimensional Fly Me To The Moon stands at #16, with a $4.2 million box office total.

Wall-E drops 50.7% in the seventeenth slot, now has a $216.2 million take.

Lastly, Kung Fu Panda resurges by 98% as it adds "popularly priced" theaters nationwide and takes in over half a million bucks to stand at a grand total of $212.7 million domestic.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The Dark Knight Reaches $870.4M Worldwide reports that The Dark Knight continued to do well in North America and overseas in its sixth weekend in theaters:

Christopher Nolan's mega-blockbuster The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) continues to thrive with $10.3 million in its sixth weekend, the first time since opening where it's not in the Top 5 for its respective weekend compared to other movies. Even so, its running total domestically is up to $489 million, which means it could hit that elusive $500 million mark by Labor Day. That amount has only been seen once before domestically, by James Cameron's Titanic, which made more than twice "Dark Knight's" weekend gross in its own sixth weekend.

Internationally, The Dark Knight added another $34 million from 7,700 theaters in 62 markets. The overseas total has hit $381.2 million and the film has reached $870.4 million worldwide, climbing to 15th on the all-time worldwide blockbuster list.

Land of No Cintiqs

I ambled through Disney TVA Sonora this afternoon ... and for the first time it hit me. A studio with no Cintiqs.

My Friends Tigger and Pooh and Mickey's Clubhouse might be c.g.i. shows (and they are), but the production boards are being done on paper, One of the few places where that's happening. I can't think of another mainline studio using Number Two carbon sticks and sheets of wood pulp. Sort of refreshing, when you think about it. A staffer grunted:

"Some production people say we're moving to computers next season maybe, but I haven't heard anything official. I like Storyboard Pro, but paper's okay too" ...

DTVA is now closing in on 100 half-hours of Clubhouse. Nobody seems to be sure if there will be a new season beyond this one, though the series is top-rated.

And three blocks away, DreamWorks busily expands its campus, even as the Mouse House builds out the acreage it holds across the street and next door. Grand Central airport and its runways are looong gone.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Briefly: Learn Japanese at NY Anime Fest; InTru 3-D Monsters and Aliens

* The New York Anime Festival and Japan Society will be teaming up to provide Japanese language lessons at this year's festival from September 26-28, 2008. [Press Release]

* DreamWorks Animation and Intel Corp have announced a 3-D movie image brand called InTru 3D, which will debut with Monsters vs. Aliens in March 2009. [Reuters]

Mass Animation or Mass Exploitation?

Animators beware! There’s a new collaborative animation project called Mass Animation that is asking animation artists (both pros and amateurs) to come together via a Facebook application to produce a 5-minute CG animated short destined for theatrical release. The project hasn’t launched yet, but the details that are available on the official website and in this Intel press release aren’t encouraging.

The program, which doesn’t compensate any of the animators who work on it, is being sponsored by Intel, Autodesk, Facebook, Aniboom and Reel FX. The film is being directed by former Sony Pictures Digital exec Yair Landau. He says, “Mass Animation combines original computer-generated animated storytelling with social networking in a powerful, new way…we will reach so many talented animators who might not otherwise have access to this community of imagination and artistry. This project is the future of creative collaboration.”

Apparently Landau believes that the future of creative collaboration on the Internet means getting lots and lots of different people to create free work for deep-pocketed corporate sponsors so that they can release your work theatrically. Unlike earlier technologies, the Internet empowers artists so that they can avoid being taken advantage of in this manner. Companies that are trying to facilitate the exploitation of artists via the Internet are truly living in the past. Perhaps this contest started with benevolent intentions, but the press release makes it sound super-exploitative, and the fact that a Hollywood exec is directing the project simply adds to the ick-factor. I’ll make an effort to stay on top of this story and find out how it turns out.

(Thanks to Chris Roman for bringing this to everybody’s attention on the Cartoon Brew Facebook group)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Mark Evanier Reveals New "Garfield" Voice Cast

Writer Mark Evanier has revealed the voice cast to The Garfield Show in a post on his weblog. The new animated series, which he believes will debut later this year in Europe and in 2009 on Cartoon Network in the United States, will feature Frank Welker as Garfield, Gregg Berger as Odie, Wally Wingert as Garfield and odie's owner Jon, and Audrey Wasilewski as Garfield's ladyfriend Arlene. Stan Freberg was also at the recording session Evanier blogged about, playing "a guest star role as a really snotty villain."

Kim Deitch at Vancouver evening of rare cartoons

Special guest Kim Deitch presents classic 1920s, 1930s and 1940s animation specially selected from his collection this Saturday, August 23 during "An Evening With Deitch" at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Presented by Inkstuds and Vancouver Comicon/Comix & Stories, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy a sampling of early rare, obscure and blacklisted cartoons from Fleischer Studios, TerryToons and more.

Deitch will be on hand to discuss these works, as well as a presentation of the ultra-rare Dial M For Monster, which was filmed in 1960 by a 16-year-old Deitch with friend Tony Eastman (son of UPA writer Phil "P.D." Eastman). Dial M For Monster has previously been shown only at private screenings on a handful of occasions.

A son of illustrator/animator Gene Deitch, Kim Deitch began doing comic strips for the East Village Other in 1967. In 1969, he became the editor of Gothic Blimp Works, an underground comics tabloid.

Since then, his work has appeared in RAW, Pictopia, Zero Zero, Nickelodeon Magazine, Details and Little Lit. He lives in New York City.

Another rare cartoon being featured is the infamous (and legendary) Eveready Harton In Buried Treasure (1928), a compilation for a Winsor McCay testimonial dinner -- and the first recorded pornographic movie cartoon. Organized by Max Fleischer, various New York studios pooled resources and created a tributary risqué cartoon in honor of McCay. The McCay testimonial cartoon rests in the collection of Deitch, and is one of the rarest pieces from this watershed moment in cartoon history.

As a bonus, legendary Vancouver-based animator Marv Newland will be in attendance for a screening of his 1988 work Black Hula. Newland's work has been a staple in the animation world from his start with Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969) to his days with International Rocketship Productions. His work is an exemplified example of the potential of art in animation.

This one-time event takes place at 7 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery's Hornby Street entrance. Tickets are $8, and are available online at or in person at RX Comics, 2418 Main Street, and Lucky's Comix, 3972 Main Street. Seating is very limited.

'Asterix' brings home the gold for Constantine

The theatrical success of Dennis Gansel’s hit high school drama 'The Wave' and Gallic comic book romp 'Asterix at the Olympic Games' fueled a dramatic boost in profit for Constantin Film in the first half of the year.

Theatrical distribution accounted for $24.3 million, up a whopping 92%, due largely to the boffo performance of 'The Wave,' which grossed $22.3 million at the box office. In addition to 'Asterix,' which garnered $12.6 million, other strong acquired titles included “Step Up 2 the Streets,” with a box office tally of $8.5 million.

Upcoming In Japan

Awesome Engine has posted a three part fall anime preview.

Notables include:

Casshern Sins - Madhouse's new iteration on the sci-fi super-hero
Hokuto no Ken Raoh Gaiden: Ten no Haoh - new Fist of the North Star
Shikabane Hime - Aka - Gainax does zombies
Tytania - from the creator of epic, hundreds of episodes long space opera Legend of Galactic Heroes

In July a supposedly leaked list of Studio Bones animators indicated that a new Fullmetal Alchemist was being produced.

Though Bones decryed the list as a fabrication at the time, the new Moonphase Buzz is that the Japanese release of volume 20 of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga will feature an announcement on concerning a new season of the anime.


A second season of the new anime incarnation of action/sci-fi Tetsuwan Birdy Decode (or Birdy the Mighty) is scheduled to air on Japanese TV in January 2009

From Anime News Network

Popular anime music composure Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop) will be making a voice acting cameo in Koji Morimoto's (The Animatrix: "Beyond") "Dimension Bomb" entry in 4°C's Genius Party Beyond anthology. The film will open in Japan on October 11.


Michiko and Hatchin
Kannagi ~ Crazy Shrine Maiden
Asu no Yoichi!Higurashi (When They Cry) Rei


Anime on DVD reports that Japanese Blu-ray releases, scheduled for December include Aquarion movie and Origin: Spirits of the Past will be released on by Media Factory on December 5th for ¥8,190 each
Bandai Visual Japan will release the first Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam TV Box set on December 19th, 2008. The second box will follow on January 23rd, 2009. Each set will retail for ¥36,750.

Robo Japan collect rumors that Toho is developing a new Godzilla franchise that will feature feature CGI effects over the traditional miniature sets and "man-in-the-suit" effects.

Anime on American TV

The FUNimation Channel will be premiering five new animated series starting September 1st


(All times are Eastern)

Mushi-Shi (TV-14) -- The FUNimation Channel has picked up 26 episodes of this supernatural series. Mushi are neither plants nor animals, instead they resemble the primeval substances of life. Few humans are aware of their existence, among them in Ginko, a ‘mushi-shi’ who studies them and investigates strange occurrences that are related to their appearances. Slated to premiere Monday, September 1 at 8:00 a.m. Eastern (30 minutes. Airs M-F at 8:00 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 pm)

School Rumble (TV-PG) – This comedic drama is about the tangled love triangles of teens. Premiering Monday, September 1 at 10:00 am (30 minutes. Airs M-F at 10:00 a.m. and again at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.)

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle (TV-PG) -- This dramatic action-adventure about four travelers on an epic journey. Their goals are different, their destiny the same. Premiering Monday, September 1 at 10:30 a.m. (30 minutes. Airs M-F at 10:30 a.m. and again at 5:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.)

BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (TV-MA) -- In this comedy about a garage band trying to make it there is one thing to remember: music can change your life, sometimes against your will! Premiering Monday, September 1 at 12:30 a.m. (30 minutes. Airs M-F at 12:30 a.m. and airs again at 4:00 a.m.)

Basilisk (TV-MA) – This 24 episode drama is set in feudal Japan as the young leaders of warring ninja clans fall in love. Their love is ill-timed. A forbidden love amidst a battle for blood. Who will be left standing? Premiering Monday, September 1 at 1:00 a.m. (30 minutes. Airs M-F at 1:00 a.m. and again at 4:30 a.m.)

All of the episodes back-to-back in our weekend “rewind” on Saturdays and Sundays.


iaTV announced a program acquisition deal and strategic ad sales partnership with TOKYOPOP.

Through this agreement, iaTV’s ad sales team will represent the advertising sales activities for TOKYOPOP’s digital assets including, brand integration within original and user-generated video content, mobile advertising and other applications.

Programming acquired by iaTV from TOKYOPOP includes anime series – Initial D and Psychic Academy – and anime film Spring and Chaos have also been acquired, with Initial D being televised Monday through Friday, beginning September 1, at 5:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. PT and Psychic Academy joining the network’s Tuesday primetime A-Pop lineup at 10:30 p.m. PT on September 9. Also coming to iaTV are several short-form (three- to four-minute) ‘iManga’ series: combining animation with still art, music and English voiceovers. In addition, iaTV has acquired the hardcore FMW Wrestling, which will air Fridays at 10 p.m. PT starting September 12, leading out of Pancrase: Legends of Mixed Martial Arts, and creating of a two-hour primetime block of male skewing sports entertainment.

FMW Wrestling
(22 episodes x 60 minutes)
Sports Entertainment
Japan, English

FMW, or Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, is hardcore wrestling at its best. Featuring legends such as Hayabusa, Mr. Pogo, Leatherface, Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, and Kintaro Kanemura, this exciting sport will leave you breathless and wanting more.

Initial D
(41 episodes x 30 min.)
Japan, English Subtitled

Created from one of Japan’s most popular manga, Initial D follows high school student Takumi Fujiwara, a tofu delivery boy whose driving skills are honed as he makes deliveries every day on Mt. Akina. When the local racing team finds itself in need of a replacement, they turn to Takumi, despite his lack of interest in the sport. Soon after his victory, racing groups from all over Japan come to challenge him. But when the ‘White Comet of Akagi,’ master racing driver Ryosuke Takahashi, challenges him, will Takumi have what it takes to win and become the legendary ‘Ghost of Akina’?

Psychic Academy
(8 episodes x 30 minutes)
Japan, English Subtitled

Psychic Academy follows Ai Shiomi, a young boy who possesses psychic abilities known as ‘aura power.’ After much persuasion from his parents, Ai attends the prestigious Psychic Academy, where specially gifted students learn how to control the abilities that allow them to have power over elements. With his newfound friends, Orina and Myuu, and under the tutelage of his legendary older brother Zero, Ai learns about his rare ability while researchers try to artificially awaken the dormant aura genes in all humans, no matter how destructive the cost may be.

Spring and Chaos
(1 episode x 60 minutes)
Japan, English Subtitled

Directed by one of the premiere directors in anime, Shoji Kawamori, who is famous for Macross, Escaflowne, Aquarion, amongst others. Set in the beginning of 20th Century Japan, this film follows the bright and eccentric Kenji from his late student years through his adulthood. Kenji suffers the tragedy of being an artist whose art isn't recognized during his lifetime. Based on the life of the author Kenji Miyazawa, Spring and Chaos depicts his brief but intense existence.

Bizenghast (iManga Series)
(17 x 2 to 3 minute episodes)

In the run-down New England town of Bizenghast, Dinah, a disturbed young woman, enters into a bargain with an afterlife bureaucracy that she never could have imagined. Along with her best friend, Vincent, Dinah is tasked to go to the mysterious Sunken Mausoleum every night and set one of the tormented souls to rest. If she succeeds, she goes free. If she fails, she becomes part of the horrific mausoleum herself.

Gyakushu! (iManga Series)
(13 x 2 to 3 min episodes)

After stealing a priceless treasure, a nameless Thief’s family is slaughtered and his home destroyed. Burned beyond recognition and left for dead, the Thief rises from the ashes to stain his steel with the blood of his enemies. But the path to vengeance is a treacherous one, as each step is filled with shocking revelations not only about the Thief, but his enemies as well. The only certain thing in this world of ice and death is white-hot revenge.

Princess Ai (iManga Series)
(8 x 2 to 3 min episodes)

Ai, a beautiful young woman, finds herself alone in Tokyo, with no memory of her past. She only knows that she’s on a mission, and she has to survive on the mean streets until she can remember just exactly what that mission is. On her journey she finds the truth behind her royal parentage, global rock stardom, and...true love.

Riding Shotgun (iManga Series)
(20 x 2 to 3 min episodes)

It’s just an average day for a hitman who’s short on cash, until his agent makes an important call. Doyle Harrington and his partner Abby finally get to interview with the federally funded National Assassin’s Commission… and it’s all down hill from there. When a wager to double his profits backfires, Doyle becomes the bounty, not the hunter.

Sokora Refugees (iManga Series)
(19 x 3 to 4 min episodes)

When a skinny, awkward schoolgirl named Kana finds a magical portal in the girls’ shower, she and her friends are transported to a fantasy world called Sokora. There, they immediately find themselves at the center of an epic battle between good and evil. Kana is possessed by the spirit of a voluptuous elfin sorceress named Veila, who increases the size of Kana’s chest, but if they are to ever make it home, Kana must comes to terms with her new ‘endowments’ and defeat the evil forces sweeping the land.


Toei Animation's CG series RoboDz will be running on the American Disney XD channel (formerly Toon Disney) in February 2009.

Astro Boy Casting News

In a week that revealed that George Takei will be the emperor or Japan in Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3, AstroBoy World learned that Takei will play a role in the Imagi CGI movie.

Other casted roles include
Astro Boy - Freddie Highmore
Dr. Elefun - Bill Nighy
Dr. Tenma - Nicolas Cage
General Stone - Donald Sutherland
HamEgg - Nathan Lane
Orrin - Eugene Levy
Ryan Stiles, David Alan Grier

Worth Checking Out...

Matt Thorn's blog is a must read

Anime News Network and New York's Chopsticks spoke to Satoshi Kon

Ghibli World translated/summarizes Inside NHKk Professional look at Hayao Miyazaki

Anime Expo's back stage site now hosts videos of

AX 2008 Guest of Honor Artist Panels-Akemi Takada and Hiromi Kato
AX 2008 Guest of Honor Director Panels-Masahiro Ando and Masamitsu Hidaka
AX 2008Guest of Honor Voice Actor Panel-David Hayter
The 2009 convention will take place July 2-5 at the Los Angeles Convention Center

Episode 73 of the Anime Today podcast features an inteview with voice actor and podcast Kyle Hebert ( “Kamina” in Gurren Lagann, “Aizen” in Bleach and “Kiba” in Naruto –)

Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata's (Death Note) new manga, Bakuman , sampled in four languages

Via Gunota, The 12th International Animational Festival in Japan presents a Osamu Tezuka retrospective

Anime Buses

Kamen Rider Dragon Knight Trailer

Robert of Robert's Anime Corner Stores puts Tokyopop's insistent that titles are "postponed," not "cancelled" into perspective

LA Weekly on fan made anime music videos

let's anime looks back at the great, pink haired Minky Momo

Cutie Honey, Space Adventure Cobra to Pitch Whiskey and Zaku ashtrays

Chthuhlu Cs Voltron

Variety's history of anime

Roland Kelts' essay We Grew Up Too Comfortable to Take Risks

What if Japan, the face of the future, is showing us who we are becoming – as a kind of proverbial ‘canary in a coal mine,’ a Cassandra of our trans-cultural futures.

Yomiuri Shimbun talks Industry urged to utilize 'Japan cool'

A notable look back at FLCL

Publishers Weekly on 4 panel manga at Yen Press

An English language Rumiko Takashi interview

Via Awesome Engine, a MAD of Tadashi Hiramtsu's animation set to Beat Crusaders' “Hit In America”

A look at the Chip Kidd Bat-Manga book

An examination of Oshii's Sky Crawlers

ComiPress presents Black and White in a Color World - How Manga Has Retrained Our Rods and Cones

Collection DX - Destroy All Podcasts looks at the Starship Troopers anime

Warner Bros. Confirms Superman Reboot

Just a few days after this article was posted, Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov has told The Wall Street Journal that the studio is going to be reintroducing Superman. We assume this will be similar to how Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk was a reboot of Ang Lee's Hulk. Here is what the article says:

Warner Bros. also put on hold plans for another movie starring multiple superheroes -- known as "Batman vs. Superman" -- after the $215 million "Superman Returns," which had disappointing box-office returns, didn't please executives. "'Superman' didn't quite work as a film in the way that we wanted it to," says Mr. Robinov. "It didn't position the character the way he needed to be positioned." "Had 'Superman' worked in 2006, we would have had a movie for Christmas of this year or 2009," he adds. "But now the plan is just to reintroduce Superman without regard to a Batman and Superman movie at all."

The article also talks about Warner Bros. adapting other DC properties over the new few years. "By 2011, Mr. Robinov plans for DC Comics to supply the material for up to two of the six to eight tent-pole films he hopes Warner Bros. will have in the pipeline by then," it says. Those projects will likely be about single characters at first, and will be darker much like The Dark Knight:

With "Batman vs. Superman" and "Justice League" stalled, Warner Bros. has quietly adopted Marvel's model of releasing a single film for each character, and then using those movies and their sequels to build up to a multicharacter film. "Along those lines, we have been developing every DC character that we own," Mr. Robinov says.

Like the recent Batman sequel -- which has become the highest-grossing film of the year thus far -- Mr. Robinov wants his next pack of superhero movies to be bathed in the same brooding tone as "The Dark Knight." Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.' DC properties. "We're going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it," he says. That goes for the company's Superman franchise as well.

The studio is set to announce its plans for future DC movies in the next month. For now, though, it is focused on releasing four comic-book films in the next three years, including a third Batman film, a new film reintroducing Superman, and two movies focusing on other DC Comics characters. Movies featuring Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, and Wonder Woman are all in active development.

We'll let you know as soon as the studio has announced its plans for future DC movies.

And here's Aint It Cool News' take on the same story -

Warner Brothers Almost Gets It - In Regards To Their Superheroes

Hey folks, Harry here... Today - over at The Wall Street Journal - Jeff Robinov is talking about the "master plan" for DC's Heroes as they apply to Warner's film slate. It seems that the big series of round table meetings that they had - back after Iron Man came out - have caused trimming of the bush - along with planting of new seeds in their development slate.

Then The Dark Knight came out - and kinda changed everything in their executive brains. Jeff Robinov has decided to follow the Marvel model in regards to their characters. Introducing Stand Alone Character films "For every character they have the rights to" - a statement that I feel is probably a gross exaggeration. But I bet it's every character that Robinov is familiar with, ie. that DC put in front of him. Then use those Stand Alone hopeful Franchises to build toward a multi-character film - like a Justice League movie.

Ok - I'm down with that. Sounds good. Then you get toward the end of the article and Jeff apparently wants "the next pack of superhero movies to be bathed in the same brooding tone as 'The Dark Knight.'"

Ok - this is where it becomes readily evident that Jeff Robinov doesn't get it. Brooding is what BATMAN does. DARK TONES is what makes BATMAN and GOTHAM the places they are.

You can apply some of that to Green Arrow - but making a dark brooding SUPERMAN - bathing Metropolis in a darkness isn't necessarily what we want.

Robinov feels that they need to explore the evil side to characters - as the key to unlocking these other characters.

The key isn't to make all the heroes realistic vigilantes - that hate themselves. The key is to take their villains serious.

If you want to make a Superman movie to blow peoples' minds - do a Darkseid story. If you want to blow our minds with a Green Lantern movie - by all means - go crazy Science Fiction with it. BUT these other franchises and characters are OTHER CHARACTERS. They are not BATMAN clones.

The reason Iron Man did so well for Marvel - although in some monkey's brain he was a 'B' Character - was because they realized the character as he was meant to be realized. His character is a womanizer, a lush and a genius. Spider-Man worked because Peter Parker is a sweet kid that messed up and got his Uncle killed and is trying to spend his life making up for that. But when they tried to make his character DARK & BROODING in the last film - fans rejected it. BECAUSE THAT IS NOT SPIDER-MAN.

The key to all of these heroes are their villains. Because the measure of a hero is the villain that they face. Lex Luthor isn't a bumbling Land Grabber like Richard Donner gave us and that Bryan Singer gave us - Lex Luthor is the evil TONY STARK - actually - he's closer to Jeff Bridges's Stane. Lex would have been the world's greatest man had SUPERMAN never existed. His mind was an evolutionary step forward. His company solving the world's woes... for a profit. Then this orphan from space comes and puts him in a shadow. Puts him in a corner - and nobody puts baby in a corner. And it caused something to snap - it's the tragedy of SUPERMAN - his existence created Lex's villainry. BUT more importantly - you have amazing villains like Braniac or most importantly - DARKSEID!

Painting SUPERMAN with dark tones... does anyone remember Superman III? Of course that was done tongue in cheek, but I am just not one to want a brooding sad sack SUPERMAN moaning constantly about being ALONE. That's THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER - not SUPERMAN.

Ideally - what I'd like to see is to have each character realized as well as BATMAN has been. Just develop the properties with RESPECT and GRANDEUR. That's all I ask.

What about you Talkbackers - how would you like to see the DC heroes handled. Take these and tell us what you'd like to see from WONDER WOMAN, SUPERMAN, GREEN LANTERN, GREEN ARROW, MARTIAN MANHUNTER, THE FLASH - and building to a JLA flick?

Nicolas Cage Boards Vaughn's Kick-Ass

Nicolas Cage, Aaron Johnson and Lyndsy Fonseca are set to star in Kick-Ass, Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of the violent Mark Millar comic book, says The Hollywood Reporter.

Written by Millar and drawn by John Romita Jr., the Marvel Comics' Icon imprint book centers on a high school dweeb named Dave Lizewski who decides to become a superhero even though he has no athletic ability or coordination. Things change when he eventually runs into real bad guys with real weapons.

Johnson plays the title character, while Fonseca plays the object of the teen's infatuation who believes Dave is gay. Cage is a former cop who wants to bring down a druglord and has trained his daughter (Chloe Moretz) to be a lethal weapon.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse is also in the cast.

A fall shoot in London and Toronto is planned.

Can the Warcraft Movie Look Like this Please?


A hi-res version is available at the official website!

The clip, is of course, the Cinematic Trailer for Blizzard Entertainment's second expansion, "World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King." The game is expected to be available later this year.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures have a Warcraft movie based on the popular fantasy video game franchise in development as well. When the project was announced, it was said to be live-action with a yet to be determined level of CG environments and effects. The story would take place about a year before the events in "World of Warcraft" and would be told from the Alliance perspective. No release date for the big screen adaptation has been announced.

Historical Fantasy Anime 'Moribito' Premieres on Adult Swim

Fantasy and Adventure, One Guardian to Another

New to Saturday night's here at the end of August 2008 is another new series premiere for Adult Swim, the evening and early morning programming block dedicated to animation and live-action for adult audiences.

Frequently catering to anime fans at odd hours of the morning if not exclusively through Saturday nights, Adult Swim has lined up the historical fantasy Japanese television animation Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit for its stateside premiere.

Based on an immensely popular novel, out of a series of several, by author Nahoko Uehashi, published a dozen years ago, Moribito blends dependable characters with a ferociously detailed environment.

The anime Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit begins with the legend that a spiritual element was planted, for nurturing, within the body of a young man. The legend, which is said to occur roughly once every century or so, appears to have come around again, as the young prince of the imperial kingdom has been chosen to serve as the body and temple of this egg so-called.

As Moribito continues, the young prince, named Chagum, finds himself in many a precarious situation, as various men from provinces near and far as well as beasts from another world, begin to hunt him down, in search of the spirit within. Chagum houses the egg of the Water Spirit, and is thus the guardian of the spirit.

It is when saved from danger by sheer happenstance that a worried member of the prince's court assigns the boy a bodyguard, someone strong but caring, who can defend him from the worst of the worst. Balsa is this bodyguard.

A stubborn, spear-wielding, but ultimately very conscientious woman, Balsa is charged with the protection of Chagum from several foes: the most dangerous of which is his father, who has evidently sent out an edict to kill the boy.

The first episode of Moribito is scheduled to air on Saturday, August 23rd at 1:30am (ET), on Adult Swim. A full-length animated television series, the anime Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit has won favor with many cartoon fans for its genuine characters, whose flexible emotions guide them through danger and turmoil of a various sort. Initially licensed for western distribution by the now-defunct Geneon Entertainment, the license now lies in the able hands of Media Blasters. Animation production was by the noted studio Production I.G.

In the words of the original author, Uehashi, "I just can't bear the cliché of 'an innocent child becomes a grown-up and loses something important.' It doesn't happen that way. I think it's wonderful that because one matures, one can protect someone and live on through gaining various experiences. […] I wanted to write that in my story. That's why I created Balsa."

Directed by Kenji Kamiyama, the skilled mind behind the essential television animation Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, this particular animated TV series sports a powerful historical fantasy element without losing sight of its characters. With a familiar emphasis on character development, Kamiyama's latest series may be borderline on boring for some, while pure intrigue for others. In the background of a skilled spearwoman and a gentle-hearted prince fighting for their lives are the political machinations of an empire deprived of rest and an impending conflict between man and nature.

"Blind Loves" coming to Vancouver Int'l Film Fest

Mixing a surreal underwater animation sequence with the real lives of four blind people who have overcome their so-called "disabilities" and found both love and life, Juraj Lehotsky's Blind Loves is coming to the 27th annual Vancouver International Film Festival.

The Slovakian documentary won the CICAE Award from the Cannes Film Festival's Directors' Fortnight. It's one of many films announced Thursday as highlights of VIFF, which will be held from September 25 to October 10. An estimated 150,000 people are expected to attend about 575 screenings of 350 films from over 60 countries.

To find one's true call and happiness in this world is a difficult task for those of us who can see. How much more difficult it can get for the blind?

Blind Loves (Slepe lasky) is a very genuine attempt to depict the world that blind people live in. On the other hand, it's also a sensitive and emotionally extremely powerful reflection of the most intimate feelings and emotions of blind people.

The main characters are four people who were born with no sight. They've been creating a world of their own which is often full of unusual dreams, perceptions and ideas. Lehotsky attempted to find values and beauty in the life of Peter, Miro, Elena and Zuzana -- four blind people united by the idea of love and their need for it.

Other Cannes award-winners coming to Vancouver include Three Monkeys (Turkey), for which Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the Best Director award; Il Divo, by Paolo Sorrentino, which won a Jury Prize; A Christmas Tale (France), by Arnaud Desplechin, which won a Special Prize; Tulpan (Russia/Kazakhstan/Germany/Switzerland/Poland), by Sergey Dvortsevoy, which won the Best Film prize in the Un Certain Regard sidebar; Cloud 9 (Germany), by Andreas Dresen, which won the Cannes' Heart Throb Jury Prize; Hunger (UK), by Steve McQueen, which won the Camera d'Or; and Next Floor (Canada), a short by Quebec's Denis Villeneuve, which won top prize for shorts at Cannes.

Sundance prize winners coming to VIFF include Captain Abu Raed (Jordan/USA), by Amin Matalqa, which won the World Cinema Audience Award, and Ballast (U.S.A.), by Lance Hammer, which won the Directing Award.

Many more features and shorts will soon be announced. The Sneak Preview Guide will be available Saturday, August 30. The complete program, including the festival schedule, film descriptions and photos, goes online at on Friday, September 6.

Film information also is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily via the festival info line at (604) 683-FILM (3456) from September 4 to October 10. Visa cardholders may buy tickets and passes one week ahead of the general public, starting September 6, at anytime or, from noon to 7 p.m. daily, by phone at (604) 685-8297 or in person at the Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street.

The Souvenir Program Guide will be available at noon September 12. The box office opens to the public starting September 13.

Stargate: Universe Greenlit

As one Stargate closes, another opens up. Though fans of SCI FI Channel’s Stargate: Atlantis were saddened to hear that the series wasn’t picked up for a sixth season, they can look forward to a new entry in the science-fiction franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network has ordered a new series titled Stargate: Universe. The MGM Television production will apparently be more of a space opera, which means more visual effects work.

Gunning for a younger audience, Universe will revolve around a team of explorers who venture into a Stargate and find themselves inside an ancient unmanned ship on a pre-programmed mission to the far reaches of the universe. No casting information has been released. A name actor is being sought for a lead role, but the rest of the crew will consist of largely unknown performers. Fans can also expect appearances by actors from other Stargate shows.

Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis co-creators Brad Wright and Robert Cooper will serve as exec producers and writers on the new show, which they hope will fill a void left when the popular Battlestar Galactica concludes its run next year. A Battlestar prequel titled Caprica is in development, but will take place mostly on the ground.

Based on the 1994 theatrical release titled
Stargate, the series first aired in 1997 with Richard Dean Anderson taking over Kurt Russell’s role of Major General Jack O’Neill, a soldier chosen to lead interstellar missions using an ancient portal discovered in Egypt. Late in the series’ run, Anderson stepped aside to let Farscape stars Ben Browder and Claudia Black bring a fresh vibe to the show.

Stargate Atlantis, which debuted in 2004 earned a Gemini Award last year for for its visual effects work and will reach 100 episodes this year. The property will continue as a series of two-hour movies that will air on the network and quickly hit retail on DVD. MGM has had success with recent feature-length Stargate: SG1 and Battlestar Galactica

Cartoon One’s Vampires, Buttercup, Caps Headed to MIP Jr.

Cartoon One, and independent production and distribution company based in Rome, is heading to this year’s MIPCOM Jr. with a third season of School for Vampires, a co-production with Hahn Film Germany. In addition to another set of 26 13-minute episodes of the popular series, the company will be debuting new instalments of Buttercup Wood and Red Caps.

Aimed at kids 6-9, School for Vampires takes place in a peculiar learning institution based in an old, abandoned castle and centers on Oskar, a friendly, clever little vampire with an incurable blood phobia. The 2D show is produced in association with Rai Fiction.

Co-produced by Agogo Ent. in Hong Kong, Buttercup Wood consists of 52 x 13-minute CG animated episodes revolving around the theme “best friends bring out the best in each other.” In each episode, preschoolers learn valuable lessons with Buttercup Wood residents Louie the bee, Shanghai the butterfly and Dietel the Beetle.

Red Caps is an educational action adventure series with 26 half-hour episodes in the can. The show involves a crew of magical elves on a mission to assist children all over the world in growing up with the skills needed to take care of our planet. The cross-platform, multi-media project is supported by UNICEF, and co-produced with Epidem Zot Finland & Cinegroupe Canada.

Cartoon One, which was named Best Animation Studio at Cartoons on the Bay 2008, will be located at the Italian Pavilion (ICE Stand No R36.17) during MIPCOM, taking place Oct. 13-17 in Cannes France. For more information on the company and its properties, go to

Gnomon Hosts Making of WALL•E

Gnomon School of Visual Effects and The Visual Effects Society (VES) are offering a behind-the-scenes look at WALL•E, the latest animated hit from the Disney/Pixar pipeline. Sets supervisor David Munier will be on hand to discuss his involvement with the film and reveal other details about the production process. Set for Thursday, Aug. 28 at Gnomon’s Hollywood campus, the program will begin at 7 p.m., following a networking hour beginning at 6 p.m.

Munier joined Pixar Animation Studios in 2000 as a shading artist on Monsters, Inc,. and has since worked on a number of Pixar feature films including the Academy Award-winning Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Cars. He began his career at traditional animation shop Artimation of Arizona, where he inked and in-betweened many TV commercials. When Fox Animation opened an Arizona studio in 1995, he was there creating 3D effects for Anastasia, Bartok the Magnificent and Titan A.E.

“The Making of WALL•E” program will be held on Stage 15 at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, located at 1015 N. Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood. Admission is free. RSVP at

"Tigger & Pooh" wins Catholic broadcasting award

Two episodes of the Disney Channel's "My Friends Tigger & Pooh" have won the Gabriel Award, sponsored by the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals.

How To Say I Love Roo and Piglet's Small Predicament were named as the winners of the Gabriel for television in the Children's (National Release) category.

In film, Walt Disney Studios' partly animated Enchanted was chosen in the Children's category.

This year's Gabriel Awards will be presented Saturday, October 25 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, in Los Angeles.

The Gabriel Awards are designed to honor works of excellence in film, network and cable TV and radio programs. These include, feature films and documentaries, entertainment and news programming, public service announcements, and stations which serve audiences through the positive, creative treatment of concerns to humankind. Categories for TV and radio include both English- and Spanish-language programs.

The single most important criterion of a Gabriel-winning film or program is its ability to uplift and nourish the human spirit. A Gabriel-worthy film or program affirms the dignity of human persons; it recognizes and upholds universally-recognized human values, such as community, creativity, tolerance, justice, compassion, and the dedication to excellence.

Smurfing Hard Time

Loony 'Toon Mogul Busted in Extort Plot

FEELING BLUE: In the style of "Smurfs" villain Gargamel, the cartoon's producer Stuart Ross allegedly targeted son-in-law David Blitzer.

He was more Gargamel than Papa Smurf.

The man who helped bring the Smurfs to America was busted Friday for allegedly trying to shake down his son-in-law - a deep-pocketed executive at a top private equity firm - for $11 million, authorities said.

Stuart Ross, 71, of Aventura, Fla., was charged with unleashing a campaign of harassment against his son-in-law David Blitzer, a senior managing director at the Blackstone Group, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced.

Ross's 79-year-old New York attorney, Stuart Jackson, was also charged with attempted grand larceny for his role in the scheme. Both face up to seven years in prison.

Ross was traveling in Belgium in 1976 when he discovered the popular French-language European cartoon known as "Les Schtroumpfs" and decided it could become big in America.

He bought North American rights to the tiny characters with blue skin and white caps, who live in mushrooms and battle the evil wizard Gargamel. Renamed Smurfs for a US audience, they became hugely popular as dolls and an animated early '80s Hanna-Barbera TV show.

Ross was also producer of a 1983 movie, "The Smurfs and the Magic Flute." But over the years, Ross lost his cartoon fortune.

Ross - whose daughter Allison is Blitzer's wife - had long been estranged from the family after telling her he wished her unborn child would die and that obscenities should be carved on her gravestone, according to a civil lawsuit Blitzer filed separately.

Ross had also walked off with $195,000 Blitzer gave him to start an Internet business, the suit said. Ross then disappeared from the couple's lives for many years.

In December 2007, Ross called Blitzer and got the son-in-law to give him $65,000 for seed money to start a business venture.

Then in June, Ross allegedly began bombarding Blitzer with nonstop phone calls and e-mails demanding more cash and threatening to damage his reputation and ruin his career. He also started calling Blitzer's bosses at Blackstone in a bid to discredit him.

"David, this is your worst nightmare," he said in one call, according to the civil suit. "I'm going to continue to harass you. I am going to call you every day - four or five times a day - I am going to keep calling."

On Thursday, Blitzer met with Jackson and Ross and agreed to give them $400,000. The two men were arrested Friday.

Azur and Asmar DVD review

DVDTimes has posted a UK dvd review of Azur and Asmar, directed by French animator Michel Ocelot who is also known for his debut feature Kirikou and the Sorceress. Azur and Asmar tells the story of two boys brought up as brothers, find themselves pitted against each other in a quest as they embark on an epic journey in which only one can triumph.

Wall-E DVD coverart

DVDActive has now posted coverart for the upcoming dvd editions of Pixar’s Wall-E, which will be out on November 18. Wall-E is expected to see a 1-disc, 3-disc, and a Blu-ray release, details on which can be found here.

Kevin Smith Doesn't Talk About Star Trek

via Latino Review - posts a transcript between DJ's Kevin and Bean and Kevin Smith. Kevin and Bean are perhaps two of the most annoying DJ's on the planet and are just one of many reasons I've been a subscriber to satellite radio for the last three years:

TrekMovie previously reported that JJ Abrams has completed a first rough cut of his Star Trek movie and now it appears that he is showing it off. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back director Kevin Smith was a guest on KROQ’s Kevin and Bean show this morning and the subject of the new Star Trek movie came up with Smith giving a review of a movie in a roundabout way.

Kevin talks about what he can’t talk about -

Although it was never said explicitly, it appears Kevin Smith was given an early viewing of
Star Trek, but he was very much trying to deny that he had, or at least not come out and say anything that would break the ‘cone of silence’ around JJ Abrams ultra-secret project. Early in the show when Kevin joined one of the hosts said "somebody’s seen the new Star Trek movie, I understand?" At which point Smith sardonically dismissed the question. Then much later in the show, after recounting his thoughts on his early screening of the Watchmen movie, Smith was asked if he has seen anything else. Here is the exchange:


Host: So thumbs up on The Watchmen, what else you got?

I saw a movie last night that I cannot talk about.

Host: Was it good?

It was phenomenal.

Host: Any stars, any break out stars, and do they trek?

The stars absolutely trek in this film. It is fantastic. Anybody who was worried doesn’t need to be worried–about this film I cannot talk about…It was in very capable hands. The director did a phenomenal job–the director and his crew. Top notch cast and the guy that plays the lead is an instant star. That dude is going to be so famous. He is so wonderful. He picked up a role that I would say is pretty challenging for someone to step into the shoes of, because it is a role that has been played before many times by the same guy.

Click HERE to read the rest of the non review interview.

"Ya guys, I saw a movie last night I can't talk about. So let's not talk about it even though I brought it up. So I'm just gonna wink wink my way around your questions, talk about it, yet not talk about it. I'm wearing my clever pants today!"

I wish this movie would come out already so I can stop posting news stories on it.

Awesome Animated 3D Illusion on iPhone

David O’Reilly has built a very cool animated walk cycle that takes advantage of the iPhone’s motion sensitivity.

O’Reilly describes the effect on his blog:

“The application works by assuming a constant viewing angle (35-45 degrees), typical for when the device is placed on a tabletop. The 3d scene’s perspective is warped using anamorphosis, the same technique used in Hans Holbein’s painting The Ambassadors. This application does the exact same but updates dynamically.”

There’s been some controversy online about whether O’Reilly’s animation is actually motion-sensitive or if all the animation was completed earlier and he’s simply moving the iPhone to match the onscreen action. Regardless, the reality is that there is amazing potential for interactive cartoons on the iPhone and other motion-sensitive devices. Let’s do a little blue-sky thinking and imagine the possibilities. Instead of simply watching a cartoon, viewers can now interact and control the actions of their favorite characters. A simple tilt of your iPhone could send a character walking in any direction. A quick shake could make your character turn away from another character. Don’t feel like watching an 11-minute cartoon today? Control the pace of short and make it a four-minute cartoon. New technologies will open up new narrative possibilities for animation artists.

The linear cartoon is so 20th century. For a new generation of kids, watching a cartoon with only one ending (i.e. every cartoon today) will test the limits of their patience. It’ll be the equivalent of riding a horse-and-buggy after cars had been invented.

Sure, Chuck Jones and Mike Maltese came up with a good ending for One Froggy Evening, but today’s cartoonists can come up with twenty different endings for their shorts, exploring all sorts of what-if scenarios. They can begin to understand their creations from a deeper, more psychologically complex perspective. As a viewer, if you like a particular ending, you can control your character’s actions to always achieve the same result. But every individual viewer can also change the outcome of the cartoons they watch with a simple tilt or turn of their screen. Viewers can become engaged in the universe of their favorite cartoons as never before, and it will become a much richer experience for both creator and viewer. All of this could happen, but it will take the combined efforts of programmers, animators and studios with the vision and desire to push their cartoon characters into the 21st century.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

20 CGI classics, RenderMan anniversary

In honor of the 20th anniversary of RenderMan, Rotten Tomatoes has assembled in a list twenty classic films that have employed the software in various ways. RenderMan was created two decades ago by Pixar, revolutionizing the world of computer-generated special effects and animation. The movies feature on Rotten Tomatoes' list range from 1988’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day to this year’s animated hit Wall-E. For more information on the impact RenderMan has made in it’s 20-year existence, click here.

Regarding Layoffs

From the "Disney Tuesday" comments below:

... [A]bout 25 new animators were hired [for Bolt]. They were all told at their start that this was strictly run-of-picture, and they would be let go once animation was finished.

So, most of them are now being let go. Disney is unfortunately losing some talented animators ...

This is, by and large, the reality of the animation industry today. Also the reality of the movie business. You work on the production, and when the production wraps up, you clean out your desk and move on ...

But here's a flash memo: it's almost always been this way. When an artist tells me that long-term employment "used to be the way the biz worked," I reply that the "work one place forever" thing was actually just an eigh-year quirk.

Now, if you work someplace, any place, for a couple of years, that's "long term." If you work at one company for a decade or more, you're in the Golden Circle. Off the top of my pointy head, here are the long-term employment gigs in the L.A. 'toon industry now:

The Simpsons -- 19-year run at two different studios (Klasky-Csupo and Film Roman). Lots of long-termers, except hiatuses here and there that have lasted as long as nine to eleven months.

King of the Hill -- 11-year run, except that they cancelled it two-and-a-half years ago, then thought better of it and brought crew back .... minus layout ... four months later.

DreamWorks Animation -- despite sour-heads who keep deriding DreamWorks Animation product (I'm not one of them), Mr. Katzenberg continues to entertain the public with a fairly consistent stream of box-office performers that worldwide audiences keep flocking to see. As a result, Mr. Katzenberg has recreated Disney Feature Animation circa the 1990s: a large, stable staff and longer-term employment contracts. Plus there are olive trees, coy ponds, and a large, Florentine water fountain.

And that's pretty much it in the "long employment" department. Coming close would be the re-incarnation of Family Guy and the newer American Dad, but those shows saw months-long layoffs when the WGA was on strike for 100-plus days.

Industry employees look back longingly to Disney's two animation studios in the nineties, when both Feature Animation and Disney Television Animation had a steady stream of work and big crews employed year-round to do it.

But those happy moments in time were anomalies, and now gone. Disney Feature Animation has had wave after wave of layoffs from the turn of the 21st century to the present, and Disney TVA currently has way less product going through, so a small staff suffices to fill its needs. Few work twelve months a year (unless your in administration). As one industry veteran who's worked plenty of places said to me:

"A lot of animation facilities use the visual effects model. Sony Pictures Imageworks, Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Disney Animation Studios and some others all hire production crew when there's a picture to get out and a tight deadline staring them in the face. Nobody carries anybody. Few try to create a flow of work to retain production staff. Studios know there's a talent pool out there. They tap it when they need to tap it."

My father spent his entire working life at Walt Disney Productions. In the entire cartoon industry, there were perhaps a hundred like him. Even in animation's so-called Golden Age, people got laid off when studios had less work; it was happening at Disney's when I got there in the seventies.

The eternal reality of the movie business is, if you work in it, you are going to work at a bunch of different companies. For most long-timers, permanent employment has always been a lovely myth.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Transformers character actor Jeff MacKay dies, 59

American character actor Jeff MacKay, the voice of Fireflight in the 1984-87 Marvel Productions series Transformers, died early Friday after a brief illness in the hospital due to liver complications. He was 59.

Familiar to television viewers since the mid-1970s, he had recurring roles in several adventure series, especially as a sidekick.

MacKay portrayed mechanic/co-pilot Corky, pilot-soldier of fortune Jake Cutter's alcoholic best buddy, in the 1982-83 series Tales of the Gold Monkey. He played Lieutenant "Mac" MacReynolds, USN in 24 episodes of Magnum, P.I.

He was Gordon "Gordie" Masterson in the "Dr. Shrinker" segment of The Krofft Supershow from 1976 to 1977.

Other roles included Big Bud Roberts in 10 episodes of JAG, Lt. Donald "Don" French in Baa Baa Black Sheep (later titled Black Sheep Squadron), the Second Crewman in Battlestar Galactica, Buddy in Airwolf, The Greatest American Hero, and Doctor Weinstein in The Greatest American Hero.

Born Jeffery Neill MacKay in Dallas on October 20, 1948, he attended Van Buren Jr. High School, just off Sandia Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

He also guested on the TV shows The Duke, The Rousters, Hardcastle and McCormick, Outlaws, Oklahoma Passage, Berlin Break, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and Diagnosis Murder.

Download: 'The Dark Knight' script have posted the 167 page script for 'The Dark Knight' for your reading enjoyment.

Tom Kneitel, grandson of Max Fleischer, dead at 75

Former editor Tom Kneitel -- grandson of cartoon pioneer Max Fleischer and son of Famous Studios director Seymour Kneitel -- died Friday at Orange City Nursing and Rehabilation Center in central Florida. A resident of DeLand, Florida, he was 75.

Although never receiving screen credit, he was the originator of Casper-like space visitor Goodie the Gremlin. Goodie appeared in five Famous Studios cartoons, starting with Goodie The Gremlin, between 1961 and 1963.

When Famous Studios was finished making the Casper series, Kneitel wrote in a 2003 e-mail, he gave his father Seymour the basic idea for a replacement cartoon series with Goodie.

"They paid me bupkus [Yiddish for "peanuts"], in any event, and no Paramount royalties," Kneitel wrote. "In fact, considering the way they screwed Max over, I was glad that they hadn't sent me a bill."

Born Thomas S. Kneitel in Brooklyn, New York on January 28, 1933, "Tomcat" (as he was nicknamed) was the editor emeritus of Popular Communications magazine.

"I didn't go into the animation business," Kneitel recalled in 2003. "I started out working for United Artists (in the New York home office). However, I found that could have more fun with less effort by writing magazine articles about my hobby, radio. So I was apparently not much of a loss to the animation industry."

He wrote for Popular Electronics and Electronics Illustrated in the 1950s. When 11-meter citizens' band radio became official in 1958, he began writing for it, contributing to CB Horizons, S9 Magazine (for which he also drew cartoons) and S9 CB Radio Magazine.

When the CB craze began to die off, one of the CB magazines became Popular Communications. Kneitel's ham radio call sign was K2AES.

Kneitel wrote or co-wrote dozens of books for the radio hobbyist, including Air Scan Guide to Aeronautical Communications, Tomcat's Big CB Handbook: Everything They Never Told You, 103 Simple Transistor Projects, National Directory of Survival Radio Frequencies, CBers' SSB Handbook, Radio Station Treasury 1900-1946, Air-Scan Directory of Aero Band Scanner Frequencies, 101 Easy Audio Projects, Rail-Scan Directory of Railroad Scanner Frequencies, The "Top Secret" Registry of U.S. Government Radio Frequencies: 25 to 470 MHZ, Understanding and Using Citizens Band Radio, Electronic Circuits Handbook and Tune In On Telephone Calls.

Kneitel's mother Ruth was the daughter of Max Fleischer. "My dad [Seymour] attended the Art Students League (New York). He was with Fleischer's from around 1930 or so, which is where he met my mother (she worked there for a while). They were married in 1931," Tom Kneitel said.

His mother wrote several uncredited scripts for some Famous Studios cartoons, including Casper. "(She) had a lot of ideas for cartoons. She was always coming up with storylines and feeding them to my dad along with dinner. He used quite a few of them, though I don't believe she was paid or given screen credit."

Kneitel wrote several training films for the U.S. Army Pictorial Center in 1960-61.

In 1961, he received his sole screen credit -- as story editor for the comedy Shangri-La. Produced by exploitation filmmaker Dick Randall, it starred Jerry Lewis wannabe Sammy Petrillo. In Kneitel's own words, it was "a raunchy schlock feature."

He married Judith E. "Judy" Gibson in 1961. They had been central Florida residents for the past three years.

"I'm held together only by spit and bailing wire, fortified by lots of pills," he wrote in 2003.

He was the nephew of live-action director Richard Fleischer (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Fantastic Voyage).

Tom Kneitel was predeceased by his son Skip. Survivors include his wife; sons Kerry of Long Island, New York and David of Paramus, New Jersey; daughters Sandra Logan and Kathleen Harris, both of DeLand, and Terri Saurbraun, Robin Cannon and Karin Kneitel, all of Long Island; younger sister Virginia "Ginny" Mahoney of Chevy Chase, Maryland; and 10 grandchildren.

Maryland farmer discovers Mickey Mouse in potato

A "mickey" is slang for a roasted potato, but Frederick, Maryland farmer Rick Brown found a Mickey in one that was just out of the ground.

Just over a week ago, Brown slowly knocked the dirt off one of his spuds. He looked at it. An image of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse looked back.

"I didn't even have to use my imagination. I knew right away what it was," he told Sunday's Frederick News-Post.

For over three decades, Brown has been living in the house where he grew up and harvesting such basic crops as lima beans, tomatoes, corn... and potatoes.

Brown has had a reasonably good growing season, raising about eight bushels of potatoes and over 300 ears of corn. The Mickey potato, however, is some sort of first.

After encountering Mickey Mouse in a root vegetable, he said, he showed his neighbors, who were equally awestruck. He took it to work the next day and showed it to amazed colleagues.

Although Brown says that he usually eats his crops, he wants Mickey Mouse to stay permanent.

Normally, potatoes will rot after being kept for several months. He's trying to find a way to preserve Mickey in the meantime.

Brown said that he thought of freezing the mouse-potato. However, he's prefer a more certain method, such as surrounding it in a glass case or using a polymer-based sealant.

Farmer Brown says he'll watch his garden for other veggies that resemble famous cartoon characters.

Financial Times on Possible "Dora the Explorer" Makeover

The Financial Times discusses possibilities for additional Dora the Explorer projects and merchandise aimed at expanding the bilingual character's audience to older children. While Nickelodeon did not comment on specific changes, they did acknowledge that they are "eager to find ways to retain Dora’s pre-school fans as they mature," especially in the face of increased competition from the Hannah Montana and High School Musical franchises from Disney. Among the possibilities discussed are a redesign of some Dora merchandise to make her appear more feminine, a group of "Explorer Girls" that would appeal to older children, and a feature film starring an older Dora that could hit screens as early as 2010.

Kristen Bell Lands Lead in Astro Boy

Kristen Bell ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall", "Heroes," "Veronica Mars") will voice the leading female voice in Warner Bros.' CG-animated Astro Boy, coming to theaters next year.

She joins a voice cast that includes Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy and Freddie Highmore.

Set in futuristic Metro City, Imagi Studios' Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist to replace the son he has lost. Unable to fulfill the grieving father's expectations, our hero embarks on a journey in search of acceptance, experiencing betrayal and a netherworld of robot gladiators, before he returns to save Metro City and reconcile with the man who had rejected him.

Batman To Star In Toy Story 3 has news on the casting of Ken in Toy Story 3:

Jodi Benson best known for the voice of Ariel in Disney's Little Mermaid franchise revealed to the IESB this weekend during an interview on Santa Catalina Island for the release of The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning that she is returning to the Toy Story franchise to voice Barbie.

Benson also revealed to the IESB that her Barbie will be cuddling up to none other than Beetlejuice himself, Michael Keaton, as Ken in the new film.

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