Friday, September 12, 2008

News - 09/12/08...

Richard Williams at MoMA

A can’t-miss event is coming up in NY. Richard Williams will appear at the Museum of Modern Art on Monday, September 22. He will discuss his career with historian and filmmaker John Canemaker. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students. Here is the event description:

Three-time Academy Award winner Richard Williams discusses his long and influential career in a conversation with animation filmmaker and historian (and fellow Oscar-winner) John Canemaker. Williams, who was awarded Oscars for Special Achievement and for Visual Effects as the director of animation of the Walt Disney/Steven Spielberg blockbuster Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and for his short film A Christmas Carol (1971), is one of the finest animation filmmakers of our time. His stunningly crafted, award-winning films have featured the work of veteran animators from the Disney studio’s “Golden Age” and from Warner Bros. Cartoons, most notably Grim Natwick (Snow White), Art Babbitt (Fantasia), and Ken Harris (Bugs Bunny). Williams also learned from his friends Milt Kahl (Pinocchio, The Jungle Book), and Frank Thomas (Bambi, Cinderella). A distillation of his acquired knowledge went into the exuberant animation he directed for Who Framed Roger Rabbit and, most recently, into an unparalleled and indispensable series of instructional DVD master classes based on his bestselling book The Animator’s Survival Kit. Illustrated with clips from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Charge of the Light Brigade, A Christmas Carol, Raggedy Ann & Andy, the animated titles from The Return of the Pink Panther, award-winning commercials, segments from The Animator’s Survival Kit, and more. Organized by Joshua Siegel (Associate Curator, Department of Film) and John Canemaker.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

IFC Sets Dates for Fear(s) of the Dark

IFC Ent., which picked up North American distribution rights to the animated French feature Peur(s) du noir (Fear(s) of the Dark) earlier this year, has announced a theatrical release schedule. Employing drawings from six world renown comic-book artists and cartoonists to explore the world of nightmares, the pic made its world premiere last October at the second annual Rome Film Festival and later played Sundance. It will hit select theaters in New York on Oct. 24, and in Los Angeles on Oct. 31.

Produced predominantly in black-and-white, Fear(s) examines childhood terrors as recalled by a diverse group of artists made up of The New Yorker contributors Richard McGuire and Lorenzo Mattotti, Strasbourg-born Blutch (Christian Hinker), American illustrator Charles Burns, and France’s Marie Caillou and Pierre Di Sciullo. Canal Plus art director Etienne Robial served as artistic director on the project.

Fear(s) of the Dark is produced by Valerie Schermann and Christophe Jankovic’s Prima Linea Prods. (U, Alice in the City). Celluloid Dreams is handling sales. Diaphana Distribution put the pic out in France in February. The complete U.S. release schedule follows:

Berkeley, CA
Shattuck Cinemas, Landmark

Los Angeles, CA
Nuart Theatre, Landmark

San Francisco, CA
Embarcadero Center Cinema, Landmark

Santa Rosa, CA
Lakeside Rialto, ESP

San Diego, CA
Ken Cinema, Landmark

Santa Cruz, CA
Nickelodeon, Independent

Denver, CO
Mayan Theatre, Landmark

Washington, DC
E Street Cinema, Landmark

Atlanta, GA
Midtown Art Cinema, Landmark

Chicago, IL
Century Centre Cinema, Landmark

Indianapolis, IN
Keystone Art Cinema, Landmark

Des Moines, IA
Fleur Cinema

Cambridge, MA
Kendall Square, Landmark

Detroit, MI
Maple Art Theatre, Landmark

Minneapolis, MN
Lagoon Cinema, Landmark

Kansas City, MO
Tivoli Manor Square, PFR

St. Louis, MO
Tivoli Theatre, Landmark

New York, NY
IFC Center, independent

Cleveland, OH
Cedar Lee Theatre, PFR

Columbus, OH
Gateway Theater, Landmark

Philadelphia, PA
Ritz at the Bourse, Landmark

Dallas, TX
The Magnolia, Landmark

Austin, TX
Dobie Theatre, Landmark

Seattle, WA
Egyptian Theatre, Landmark

Hertzfeldt Travels with Proud

Academy Award nominated cult animator Don Hertzfeldt (Rejected, Everything will be ok, Billy's Balloon) is hitting the road with a series of one-night-only events featuring some of his classic animated shorts and regional premieres of his latest work, I am so proud of you. See the poster below or go to for tour dates.

Hertzfeldt’s longest piece to date at 22 minutes, I am so proud of you is the eagerly anticipated second chapter to Everything will be ok, which won the Grand Jury Award in the short film category at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. The screening will be immediately followed by a live on-stage interview and audience Q&A with Hertzfeldt.

Nearly two years in the making, I am so proud of you was single-handedly animated and photographed on an antique 35mm camera. The film's special effects were meticulously created directly on film using traditional double exposures, in-camera mattes and innovative experimental techniques.

Hertzfeldt has some experience traveling the country with cartoons. He co-created The Animation Show, a touring theatrical program of international animation, which he programmed with fellow animator Mike Judge for its first three seasons. A retrospective anthology of Hertzfeldt's own work, Bitter Films: Volume One, was released on DVD in 2006 and can be found at

Universal Adapting Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

Universal Pictures is developing a live-action film based on Sid and Marty Krofft's '70s children's show Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, reports Variety.

In the show, Sigmund is booted from his home by his nasty brothers for being too nice and is befriended by two friends who stash him in their clubhouse.

The Kroffts will produce with Jimmy Miller and his Mosaic production company. Julie Darmody is executive producer.

The deal comes after Universal and Mosaic completed production on the $100 million Will Ferrell starrer Land of the Lost, another property that originated as a Saturday morning Krofft creation. Earlier this week, Land of the Lost was moved away from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and will now hit theaters on June 5.

The script for "Sigmund" will be written by Dana Gould, a writer-producer on "The Simpsons."

"Sigmund" becomes the third studio property set up for movie treatment for the Krofft brothers. Sony is also developing a live-action version of H.R. Pufnstuf and is in talks with director Conrad Vernon, who helmed Shrek 2 and Monsters vs. Aliens.

‘G.I. Joe’ Star Joseph Gordon-Levitt Undergoes Transformation For Cobra Commander Role

While most of the cast of “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra” has already been revealed in all their costumed glory, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s take on the fanatical Cobra Commander is one that’s remained firmly mysterious. Now thanks to a new chat with the actor, we’ve managed to learn just a little more of what to expect when the film hits theaters in August 2009.

With a number of iconic costumes in his wardrobe, the look of the character has been first and foremost on the minds of fans. Gordon-Levitt confirmed to MTV News back in April that he does wear a mask, and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told us recently that it wouldn’t be the classic hood. But while we’ve been busy speculating over what’s covering his face, would you believe it’s what’s underneath that might be most surprising?

“The cool thing about my character was that it’s not that digital,” exclaimed Gordon-Levitt, revealing that he underwent significant changes to adapt to the role. “I get to put hours of prosthetic makeup on and see a different creature altogether. I’ve seen how he looks and it’s really cool.”

The transformation into a “creature” falls in line with di Bonaventura’s comments to MTV that the film will tell the origin of a “very twisted” Cobra Commander and that the figure’s gritty backstory will be shown in all its disturbing glory. In that interview, the producer also revealed that Gordon-Levitt will have his own take on the character’s famous high-pitched screech from the 80’s animated series. So what does the actor have to say about it?

“I love that voice [from the cartoon],” enthused Gordon-Levitt. “Chris Latta is a fantastic voiceover artist, but if you did that exact voice it would sound ridiculous in a live-action movie. I guess it’s half Chris Latta and half me.”

The vocals won’t be the only thing inspired by the cartoon, but according to the star, the film is taking pains to carve out its own niche on the franchise. “Everything is different,” he said. “I think it maintains the spirit of it and all the fun, but it brings the character into three dimensions. It wouldn’t look good if you did an exact replica of the cartoon. You wouldn’t want me wearing a skin-tight bright-blue dictator’s uniform. It would look silly.”

Christian Bale Meets Arnold Schwarzenegger

Terminator Salvation star Christian Bale (The Dark Knight) met up with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Brentwood Country Mart causing further speculation that the former "Terminator" series star may play some part in the McG-directed summmer 2009 film. Perhaps a cameo appearance or voice-over? You can watch two videos of the meeting below the pic.

Joseph Gordon Levitt not in Akira... yet

Actor Joseph Gordon Levitt told MTV Splash Page that there is no truth to the rumors that he will be playing Tetsuo in the planned live-action 'Akira' movie.

"That just goes to show what you can believe about what people write about movies. I love the movie 'Akira.' I still have yet to read the manga, but that’s really just a rumor. They don’t have a script or anything."

Disney Releases "Schoolhouse Rock! The Election Collection" on Sept 23, 2008

In advance of the 2008 US Presidential election, Disney has announced Schoolhouse Rock! The Election Collection DVD, which will contain a selection of classic election-themed "Schoolhouse Rock" shorts, including "I'm Just a Bill" and "Shot Heard 'Round the World." The DVD will also include a new song called "Presidential Minute" with "two surprise endings," as well as an special election tracking kit. The DVD will be released on September 23, 2008, with a suggested retail price of $19.99.

SPARK Animation Festival

If you are anywhere near the Pacific Northwest this weekend, head on over to Spark Animation ‘08, an animation festival and state-of-the-art showcase sponsored by SIGGRAPH ACM Vancouver.

The festival started yesterday and will run through Sunday night. All of the events are ‘a la carte’ so you can select which events you want to attend and buy tickets for those, either online or at the door. Featured guests include Mark Osborne & John Stevenson (directors of Kung Fu Panda), Jimmy Hayward & Steve Martino (directors of Horton Hears a Who!), Ed Hooks (author: Acting for Animators), and Jerry Beck (screening The Worst Cartoons Ever! on Saturday night, 7pm at the Vancity Theatre). Bill Plympton’s latest feature, a Marv Newland retrospective and Leslie Iwerks’ The Pixar Story are among the special screenings. Full schedule and ticket ordering info is posted here.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Industry Names to Discuss Animation Scene at Madison Avenue

Peter Michaels (supervising director on Family Guy) and Kerry Shea (digital production head at the Jim Henson Company) will be amongst the contributors to a Madison Avenue panel discussion on the state of animation, storytelling and visual effects. Part of Advertising Week 2008, the discussion will take place on Thursday 25 of September.

Annie Awards: Call for Entries Announced

The call for entries for the International Animated Film Society's annual Annie awards has been announced. More information can be found at the Annie Awards website.

Cartoon Network Reveals Shortlisted Projects From Snaptoons

Cartoon Network continues with its intensive search for the next generation of iconic cartoons with the pioneering batch of developed concepts and ideas.

These ideas were culled from more than 300 entries received for Snaptoons (Short New Asia Pacific Cartoons), the network's pan-Asian original content development initiative. Cartoon Network's in-house Snaptoons team has been working with the shortlisted creators in developing 10 ideas and will produce at least five completed shorts this year, with a view for further development of the most promising concepts.

"The quality and depth of the ideas reinforces our belief that Asia Pacific is truly an unlimited source of talent that the animation world should take note of. This is an ambitious stage of Cartoon Network's long-term commitment in development and we are very excited that we may just be working on the next generation of cartoon heroes in the league of Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls or Johnny Bravo," said Mark Eyers, Executive Director, Content, Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, Inc. "We are looking forward to the next stage, when we can see the results of helping creators realise their vision at an international level, providing them the best creative and technical support and global exposure of their idea. Cartoon Network is investing in the creation of the shorts, for the ultimate consideration of being greenlit into a series and consumed across every platform -- mobile, online, television, as well as licensing and merchandising."

The short-listed candidates come from the following Asia Pacific countries: Australia (FWAK! Animation and Bogan Entertainment Solutions); India (Graphiti Multimedia Pvt. Ltd, Miditech Pvt. Ltd., Splash! Communications, Famous House of Animation; and Shoot At Sight); Malaysia (Inspidea Sdn. Bhd.); Taiwan (Sofa Studio) and Thailand (Ittirit House). The commissioned entrants will have their world premiere exclusively on Cartoon Network across selected Asia Pacific feeds in 2009.

Instituted in 2006, Snaptoons is an original content development initiative that aims to connect Cartoon Network with new creative talent across its key markets in Asia. Through this initiative, the Network is looking to find new, original and groundbreaking ideas that lend well to animation, are targeted to kids and have either universal or regional appeal. The search for original ideas has not necessarily ended with the shortlisted entrants and Cartoon Network will continue to accept new concepts from animation companies or independent creators.

Lynn Collins On Being The Silver Fox To Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine In ‘X-Men: Origins’

Actress Lynn Collins recently told MTV News that playing Marvel mutant Silver Fox in the upcoming “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” not only allowed her to embrace her Native American roots, but also brought her very close to star Hugh Jackman.

“We’re lovers,” said Collins of her character’s relationship to Wolverine.

In Marvel Comics history, Silver Fox was a former love of Wolverine, and the pair lived together in the Canadian wilderness during the late-1900s before a series of tragic events (and crossed paths with other Marvel mutants) pushed their lives in dramatically different directions. Thus far, “X-Men Origins” seems to be based closely on that chapter in the comics history of Marvel’s favorite Canucklehead, with many of the characters who play significant roles in the print series’ over-arching story already cast in the film.

As for how she prepared for the role of Silver Fox, Collins said her male counterparts had a far rougher time of it when it came to getting into character.

“They were all on super-buff diets, and I had pizza most of the time,” said Collins. “They were so jealous of me.”

“I didn’t have to beef up in this movie,”
she added. “I just had to wear skimpy clothes.”

"This is a Really Nice Studio To Work In ..."

... Which was what I was told by a (very pleasant) studio administrator when I dropped by to complain on behalf of a member about the studio's violation of the Collecitve Bargaining Agreement. He was working to convince me about how benevolent his cartoon factory is.

And you know, he's right. The place is a pretty nice place to work in. However, even nice places can do not-nice things ...

In my experience, even the better studios crap on employees just like the worser ones. They just do it less often. But there's a larger problem.

Every studio rides the big carousel from good to bad to mediocre in the treatment of employees, and then circles back again. Warner Bros. Animation went from "fabulous place to be work" to non-fabulous. Same with Disney. Ditto with a host of others. Time doesn't stand still and nothing remains constant.

I always grow suspicious when management claims about how neato-jet everything is. If it makes a point of telling me three times, I grow deeply suspicious. It's beside the point anyway, as I told the studio rep:

"If you lay somebody off but feel really, really bad about it, that's nice, but there's little difference between that and the studio that doesn't give two hoots as the pink slips are handed out.

"In both cases, somebody gets laid off. Who cares how the supervisor felt about it? Somebody lost his job ..."

Talk is cheap ... and ultimately worthless. The Reverend Ted Haggard can wax eloquent up there in the pulpit about the evils of sin and how it's important to live a wholesome, family life. But if Ted is sneaking off on weekends to get serviced by male prostitutes, how much are those sermons worth? And how seriously should we take them?

Don't put much stock in what studio administrations say. Pay close attention to what they actually do.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

New and Upcoming in Japan

A report on the recently released Gurren Lagann movie with program scans. Translated here

MoonPhase rumor has it that a sequel to the anime adaptation of light novel series Spice and Wolf is in the works. The series follows a young peddler and a wolf goddess.

Via Anime News Network

The new issue of Fujimi Shobo's Monthly Dragon Age announced that a new, fifth season of The Slayers, entitled Slayers Glory is in the works. The ongoing Slayers Revolution television anime series was conceived as the first part of a storyline that will last half a year (with a break in between).

Gonzo is adapting Eiichi Ikegami's Shangri-La science-fiction epic novel about global warming's transformation of Japan.

Makoto Bessho (Ah! My Goddess: The Movie, Armitage: Dual-Matrix) will direct off the scripts that will be supervised by Hiroshi Ohnogi (Arjuna, Noein - to your other self). Takeshi Mori (Otaku no Video, Vandread) will be the creative producer, and famed illustrator Range Murata (Blue Submarine No. 6, Last Exile) will design the characters. Shingo Takeba (RahXephon, Eureka Seven) is serving as creative supervisor over a team of designers that includes Takuhito Kusanagi (Blue Submarine No. 6, Samurai 7), Hajime Satou (Karas, Solty Rei), and Umanosuke Iida (Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, Tide-Line Blue).

Waki Yamato's historical shoujo Asakiyumemishi - The Tale of Genji, based on the classical literature, will be adapted into anime

Zettai Yareru Grecia Shinwa, a live-action/anime hybrid, "slightly risque/ecchi" retelling of Greek myths will air on Japanese TV starting in October.

Chocolate Underground, the Production I.G anime TV series adaptation of Alex Shearer's novel Bootleg, will be editing into a theatrical movie with 20 minutes of new footage.

Mecha series Hades Project Zeorymer will be revived with a Hades Project Zeorymer Omega manga running in Tokuma Shoten's Monthly Comic Ryu. Morio Chimi (Bio-Booster Armor Guyver) will be working with artist Yu Watari on the new Omega manga.

Yoshio Sawai (Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo) launched Chagecha, an "earth-shattering, hilarious action manga" about a "great delinquent" in Weekly Shonen Jump

Tohru Uchimizu (Kain) launched the ongoing "medieval medical drama" manga Asklepios. A Asklepios one-shot was previously published.

Shueisha's Jump Square magazine announced Kentaro Katayama's Denpa teki na Kanojo ("electromagnetic girlfriend") light novels will be adapted into anime.

New trailers/previews
Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files movie
Battle Spirits Shounen Toppa Bashin
Nodame Cantible Paris
Slap Up Party - Arad Senki

Business Roundup

Kaiju Shakedown notes that ImaginAsian TV has recently laid off a number of employees.

The company keeps on trucking, however, with a theater in NYC (now operated by Adlabs) a theater in LA and a TV channel, and they've got a new CEO. Adam Ware, formerly of Fox, UPN and the USA networks who was brought on board after previous CEO Mike Hong stepped down. His mandate is to make IATV all about Asian pop culture. As he says:

"Asian Pop is on the cutting edge of American youth culture and new media. I've wanted to jump head first into the space for a long time and IA offers the perfect foundation for the next step of my career."

Via ICV2, from a commercial standpoint, the top 25 anime releases of the summer (May, June, and the first half of July 2008) were

1 Batman: Gotham Knight
2 Dragon Ball Z
3 Naruto
4 Death Note
5 Pokemon
6 Afro Samurai
7 Devil May Cry
8 Vexille
9 Appleseed Ex-Machina
10 Bleach
11 Witchblade
12 Shin Chan
13 One Piece
14 Fullmetal Alchemist
15 Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
16 Aquarion
17 Black Blood Brothers
18 Howl’s Moving Castle
19 xxxHOLIC
20 Tsubasa
21 Voltron
22 Black Cat
23 Lucky Star
24 Full Metal Panic: Second Raid
25 Gurren Lagann

The Top 25 chart is based on interviews with retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.

The top 50 manga are listed here
1 Naruto
2 Fruits Basket
3 Death Note
4 Bleach
5 Vampire Knight
6 Kingdom Hearts II
7 Negima
8 Absolute Boyfriend
9 Chibi Vampire
10 Tsubasa

ComiPress analysised the list here

According to ICV2, FUNimation, the market share info from VideoScan data showed FUNImation at 32.7% of the market share in the first half of 2008.

The Blu-ray release of Afro Samurai ranked #16 on Nielsen VideoScan's list of the top selling Blu-ray releases for the week of August 25–31

Imagi (TMNT, upcoming Astro Boy, Gatchaman) recently raised a $10 million investement from Shui On Holdings, responding to the failure to close a $20 million deal with Oxley Spring Media

Kaiju Shakedown reports perpetuates the "silly rumor" that the release date of the upcoming Wachowski Brothers/Rain not-Ninja Scroll, NINJA ASSASSIN, from January 16, 2009 to "First Quarter 2009." There is some speculation looking at Warners' legal woes with Watchman. Whether this means that Ninja Assassin might have its own problem or whether the date change is a reaction to Watchman's delay is ambigyous.

Anime News Network reports Gonzo (Afro Samurai) parent GDH announced that it is allocating shares to allocating shares to obtain 1.9 billion yen (about US$18 million) in investment funds from Iwakaze Capital. Shares were purchased at 6,858 yen (US$63.75) a share, compared to 8,800 yen (US$82) a share before the announcements and a 7,612 yen (US$70.76) average over the last year. The move is an effort to prevent Gonzo from being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The company also disclosed that they made a capital investment in Asian media digital distribution site Crunchyroll with an acquisition of a 210-million-yen (US$2-million) stake in Crunchyroll.

Japanator notes that anime distributor ADV Films has canceled the August release of the BeastMaster Complete Collection and lost the rights to Tribute's live action sci-fi series, including Mutant X, Andromeda, Farscape, and the last 3 seasons of Earth: Final Conflict.

Adult Swim Schedule Changes

Anime News Network notes that Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block has moved Bleach up to 11:00 p.m., and Code Geass and Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit back to 5:00–6:00 a.m. Shin Chan and Inuyasha have left the schedule while Fullmetal Alchemist has returned.

The current line-up is
11:00 Bleach
11:30 Fullmetal Alchemist
12:00 Robot Chicken
12:15 Aqua Teen Hunger Force
12:30 Metalocalypse
01:00 Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
01:15 Assy McGee
01:30 Squidbillies
01:45 12oz Mouse
02:00 Bleach
02:30 Fullmetal Alchemist
03:00 Robot Chicken
03:15 Aqua Teen Hunger Force
03:30 Metalocalypse
04:00 Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
04:15 Assy McGee
04:30 Squidbillies
04:45 12oz Mouse
05:00 Code Geass
05:30 Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit

Designer Nagi Noda Passes Away

Artist/designer Nagi Noda passed away at age 35 as the result of injuries sustained in a traffic accident. Anime fans may know of Noda from her work on the opening credits to the anime version of Honey and Clover.

Worth Checking Out...

There are differing opinions on how in-depth the piece actually is, but ANN's Dig For Fire: The Roots of Gurren Lagann is still worth a look.

A Geek By Any Other Name interviews Jason Hoffs on VIZ Productions

Toshio Suzuki radio interview with Naoki Urasawa

AniPages Daily has progressed to Kaiba #10

Anime Alminac reposts a look at moe

Anime Toonz 4 Interview 4: Nigel Richards at New-York Tokyo

Subatomic Brainfreeze weighs in on EVE no Jikan

Ghibli World gives their take on Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea

Shingo Fujii, the captain of the Japanese wheelchair basketball team, spokes withTakehiko Inoue, author of "Real," a manga about wheelchair basketball

Nicolas Cage talks about his role in the CG Astro Boy

Japanator lists Five manga series that will leave you scratching your head

Yukan, calls one of these, Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge NHK - Hikkikomori + Fighting

Otaku USA posts their articles on Vexille, Astro Boy Essays and romance manga.

Patrick Macias contributes to MSNBC's Anime erotic subculture goes mainstream

That may be the biggest Japanese influence on American sex. In otaku culture, gender is increasingly fluid and interchangeable. Play and fantasy are more important than actually having sex with a real person. Among some otaku, love and sex in the anime realm become vicarious experiences, more satisfying than real life, Macias says.

Publishers Weekly previews the upcoming reformatted Dark Horse release of Astro Boy

Anime Jump's Mike Toole continues ANNtv Dubs that Time Forgot

A Tokyo Zombie tribute illustration

and Devilman

The seventh entry in Gurren Lagann Parallel Works's is a bit controversial

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