Monday, September 15, 2008

News - 09/15/08...

Hudlin Leaves BET

After delivering a stirring case for BET Animation at the San Diego Comic-Con, BET president Reginald Hudlin is leaving the cable network just as it’s starting to show promise in the way of original programming. According to the network, Hudlin will go back to his entrepreneurial roots as an independent producer. BET Chairwoman and CEO Debra Lee made the announcement in an internal memo to network employees. BET exec Stephen Hill will fill in for Hudlin until a replacement is found.

Hudlin, who is currently writing Marvel’s Black Panther comic book with artist John Romita Jr., brought the superhero property to BET. Set to debut in February, the animated series is being produced by Los Angeles-based toon shop Titmouse, and will be a late-night offering due to its violent nature and fairly adult themes.

Hudlin also struck a deal with actor Vin Diesel to bring storied African military leader Hannibal of Carthage to the screen with an animated show titled Hannibal the Conqueror. Hannibal is perhaps best known for scaling the Alps with an army of elephants to challenge the Roman Empire, but the series aims to highlight other aspects of the general’s extraordinary life and career. The show will delve into his tutelage as a warrior under his father, the king of Carthage, as well as his history-making invasions of Spain and England.

At Comic-Con, Hudlin hinted to other animated shows in development at BET, but declined to offer any details. On the live-action side, Hudlin was largely responsible for the network's highest-rated shows, including Lil' Kim: Countdown to Lockdown and Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is. He also ushered in BET’s first scripted series, the sitcom Somebodies, which premiered this week.

Before joining Viacom’s BET in 2005, Hudlin produced the popular
House Party movies, directed the Everybody Hates Chris pilot for exec producer Chris Rock, and produced Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks animated series on Adult Swim. McGruder later took jabs at Hudlin and BET in a Boondocks
episode titled “The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show.” The installment was ultimately banned by Cartoon Network for being too controversial, but can be found on the DVD release of the second season.

Paramount, W!LDBRAIN Making Kidrobot Movies

Paramount Pictures and animation studio W!LDBRAIN have joined forces to develop feature films based on Kidrobot’s line of toys under the Nickelodeon Movies banner. No details have been released regarding the first movie, which will be produced by former Paramount exec Scott Aversano as part of his overall production deal for the studio. Exec producers on the project are Kidrobot president and founder Paul Budnitz, W!LDBRAIN head of creative Bob Higgins and W!LDBRAIN president and CEO Charles Rivkin.

With offices in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, W!LDBRAIN produces the hit children’s series Yo Gabba Gabba!, which is now entering its second season on Nick Jr. The studio also produces the popular animated Esurance commercials, and has recently signed Danny Antonucci, creator of Cartoon Network’s long-running cartoon series Ed, Edd n Eddy, to develop original television series, feature films and new media projects.

Kidrobot is a creator and retailer of limited-edition art toys, apparel and accessories. A cross between sculpture and conceptual art, the toys have been embraced by international fashion designers, illustrators and graffiti artists, as well as the general public. The company operates stores in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. Kidrobot products can also be found at numerous specialty retailers around the world and online at

Cake, Fresh Serve Up Total Drama Action

Cake Distribution and Fresh TV have entered into a new worldwide distribution deal for Total Drama Action, a sequel to Fresh’s hit animated television series Total Drama Island. The new show promises to reach a wider market than Total Drama Island, which airs on TELETOON in Canada and Cartoon Network in the U.S.

Total Drama Action picks up where Total Drama Island left off as it takes 15 of the original contestants to a new location—a deserted film studio lot. Here our contestants will be exposed to new challenges with the chance to win an even bigger prize. The series will add a number of talk-show episodes where former contestants and fans comment on the competition.

Commissioned by TELETOON, Total Drama Action is created by Fresh TV’s Tom McGillis and Jennifer Pertsch. The show is currently in production and is slated to premiere in the spring of 2009.

Fresh TV is an award-winning family entertainment company dedicated to serving the tween and teen market. The company offers 2D and 3D production services through Elliott Animation, located in Toronto. More information can be found at

Based in London, Cake Distribution ( is a boutique distributor of animation and family entertainment properties. The company handles worldwide distribution rights for Cartoon Saloon’s Skunk Fu! Other properties in the Cake catalog include Eliot Kid, Aesop’s Theater, King Artur’s Disasters, Edgar & Ellen, Loopdidoo and Tiny Planets, as well as the Scholastic catalog for Europe only.

TIFF Remembers Tezuka

The 21st Tokyo Int’l Film Festival (TIFF) will present a retrospective of works by the late Osamu Tezuka, widely regarded as the “Father of Japanese Manga and Anime.” Commemorating his 80th anniversary of Tezuka’s birth, the event will take place during the festival next month. Tezuka received an official commendation at the very first TIFF for his many years of contribution to the production of animated films.

Tezuka is best known as the creator of Astro Boy, which was first introduced to Japanese manga readers in 1951. The comics told a Pinocchio-esque tale of a robot boy, modeled after the deceased son of a research scientist, who becomes a renowned superhero complete with laser-firing fingers, keen hearing and jet-powered boots.

A black-and-white Astro Boy toon series emerged in 1963, followed by a color update in 1980. The latest version, produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan and Tezuka Prods., debuted on Kids’ WB! in the fall of 2004. Hong Kong- and Los Angeles-based animation studio Imagi is bringing the property to the big screen with CG-animated movie being directed by David Bowers (Flushed Away). Summit Ent. will release the pic worldwide in 2009.

Tezuka, who ran Japanese animation studio Mushi Production, is also well known for creating the anime series Kimba the White Lion, which was a major inspiration for the Disney blockbuster The Lion King. His other creations include Black Jack, Phoenix and Princess Knight, which was the first girl-oriented manga/animae franchise.

Hosted by UNIJAPAN (Japan Association for the International Promotion of Moving Images), TIFF is nine-day fest that begins on Saturday, Oct. 18 and concludes on Sunday, Oct. 26. Main venues are Roppongi Hills in Minato City and Bunkamura in Shibuya City, as well as other theaters, facilities and halls in Tokyo.

MECHnology Completes Middleman Mission

MECHnology Visual Effects in Burbank, Calif. created nearly 400 visual effects shots for the new ABC Family superhero television series The Middleman. Based on the comic book series by Javier “Javi” Grillo-Marxuach, the show follows the adventures of a temp agency worker who is recruited to fight such villains as the Terracotta Warrior and flying Peruvian pike fish.

Natalie Morales stars as Wendy Watson, who meets The Middleman (Matt Keeslar) and begins her training as the next Middleman, a crusader dedicated to “Fighting evil so you don’t have to.” Working for a super-secret organization, they get their orders through Ida, an android disguised as a librarian.

The action in the show called for MECHnology to create such visuals as rocket boosters on Smart Cars, ancient temples, sorority ghosts and melting rays. Each episode averaged between 20 and 80 effects, with the artists at MECHnology delivering finished effects within five days of receiving the live-action plates. According to the studio, the artists had fun balancing reality with the comic-book styling that Grillo-Marxuach envisioned. In one scene, The Middleman’s headquarters goes into lockdown. MECHnology originally we added steel doors that slide down, covering every window and doorway outside the building. At the creator’s bidding, the concept was revised to involve giant, segmented steel panels that emerge from behind the building to completely seal it in.

“Javier has the ability to reference any specific detail about any sci-fi movie or television show,” says Stephen Lebed, Visual Effects Supervisor for The Middleman. “His love of all things sci-fi and comic related helped to guide us in driving the art.”

Lebed says one of the biggest challenges of working on the The Middleman was the sheer number of effects shots and extremely short turnarounds.“This series was one of the most challenging I’ve ever worked on from a time perspective,” he notes. “Production started late due to the writer’s strike, causing everything on the back end to become compressed.”

We’re told that one of the more difficult shots is featured in the season finale. The episode finds Wendy in an alternate world decked with run-down monorails, giant video displays, and strange buildings. The hand-held shot lasts more than 30 seconds and required MECHnology to create the monorail and the distant skyscrapers in Autodesk 3ds Max. Compositing was done in combustion and Shake. Additional work completed for the series included various effect design, 3d modeling, character animations, digital matte paintings, set extensions, and rig removals.

The Middleman premiered on ABC Family on June 16 and wrapped its current run on Sept 1. Form more information on the show, go to

Random Cartoons are coming!

This just in! Mark your calendars! The animation event of the year! Nicktoons Network will begin airing Random! Cartoons begining on Saturday, December 6th. Below are the premieres for 2008. All times are 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, 12/6 - Episode 101 (Solomon Fix, MooBeard, Two Witch Sisters)

Sunday, 12/7 - Episode 102 (Finster Finster, Adventure Time, Mind the Kitty)

Saturday, 12/13 - Episode 103 (Ivan, Boneheads, Tiffany)

Saturday, 12/20 - Episode 104 (Call Me Bessie, Teapot, Hornswiggle)

Saturday, 12/27 - Episode 105 (Hero Heights, Yaki & Yumi, Gary Guitar) More details to come…

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Frédéric Back: The Man Who Planted Inspiration

Bill Desowitz chats with the two-time Oscar-winning master of environmental animation.

The Oscar-winning short The Man Who Planted Trees (1987) by Frédéric Back has been an inspiration for many animators, including John Lasseter. © Frédéric Back and Radio-Canada.

Following Back's stirring appearance at SIGGRAPH 2008 last month, he sat down for a brief chat with Bill Desowitz to discuss his two favorite passions: the preservation of nature and the art of animation. As part of the newly expanded Computer Animation Festival, Back was feted at the Nokia Theater, where his inspirational Oscar-winning short The Man Who Planted Trees was screened. The 84-year-old Back was introduced by John Lasseter and AWN Co-Founder Ron Diamond to a standing ovation. An exhibition of his artwork, "Frédéric Back: A Life's Drawings," is currently on display through Nov. 1 at the Linwood Dunn Theater of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1313 Vine Street in Los Angeles). The exhibition showcases drawings, illustrations and sketches created by Back using colored pencils on frosted cels, and spotlights his commitment to environmental issues. Admission is free.

Bill Desowitz: I wanted to begin by asking you about the wonderful SIGGRAPH tribute and kind words of introduction by John Lasseter. He said that, beyond the animation, The Man Who Planted Trees is one of the most inspirational films for him.

Frédéric Back:
It was great to be in front of so many people and [John] is such a fantastic man. I've known him for 25 years. Through all his success and all his great works, he is still the same simple and amiable man.

BD: Are you still involved in animation?

I'm not so much involved in the [making] of animation. I mostly teach in collaboration with an organization that fights for the protection of animals and nature, and so I make posters and drawings to raise money for them to do their work. I'm very busy with the website ( and the teaching tools for the older teachers or parents or children that come on the site and look for inspiration for writing and drawing... to do better than I did in animation, which is no more the way animation is done.

BD: What do you think about contemporary animation?

The computer now offers fantastic possibilities... you can make things that were just dreams in the past. I find always that technology must not be the aim of making films. The most important is to have a good scenario and a subject to illustrate using any technology. It's what you learn and what you find out. I think too many films are made to have fireworks. The magic is beautiful, but when it is finished you are in the dark again.

Frédéric Back.

BD: Speaking of John and Pixar, do you keep up with their latest films?

Yes, yes. I love Ratatouille and WALL·E is really a great film...

BD: It touches on your theme of protecting nature...

Yes, in an amazing way. We were with many children in the cinema and the reaction of the children was so moving when WALL·E was calling,"EVE, EVE, EVE!" And all the small children joined in. It was really showing that children understand the feelings and magic of this thing that was more than a machine.

BD: I read that "The Rite of Spring" in Fantasia had a big impact on you when you were young.

I was absolutely overwhelmed when I saw this. During the war, I had few occasions to see animated films, but they were always funny or telling a story very, very nicely like Gulliver from Fleischer. And so after the war, I saw Fantasia and it was all the resources of talent and music and image and technology together to build up something that was unique. It was really like opera, especially "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "The Rite of Spring." It was like a dream, but I never expected to get into animation. I was trying to learn by making studies of nature and lots of drawings of animals and illustrations and paintings of landscapes and historical subjects...

BD: What was it like watching the audience enjoying The Man Who Planted Trees last night?

An exhibition of Back's artwork, "Frédéric Back: A Life's Drawings," is on display through Nov. 1 at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Todd Wawrychuk/©A.M.P.A.S.

FB: I'm always amazed. I was very lucky to be able to work with Hubert Tison at the Radio-Canada animation studio. And he was a trained animator who gave up his own creations in order to conduct the studio. He was an inspiration. He helped me as a collaborator and was very critical and demanding, so it was really a fantastic chance to be involved in animation. There was no animation camera outside the National Film Board, so I was able to be involved in this studio and learned from one film to another to be a little better. And, finally, he proposed in 1970 an international exchange of animation productions, and it succeeded for over 14 years. It was a fantastic occasion to make films about [protecting nature]...

I had made so many drawings and posters and had no impact in this field. But as soon as I made the animation films related to this kind of problem, for children, helping them think about it, I had teachers writing to me and sending me the drawings of children, and the reaction was great. In each film I tried to tell about the problem in a different way with a different technique, and it was an ensemble the way each film gave strength to the next. And Normand Roger did the music, which transformed the image with the meaning and the beauty, so I was really lucky. I can only thank all of these people that helped me to make this kind of message that was needed in the building of a balance in the way we share the riches of the world and maintain the riches of the world. And animation is a fantastic tool for this message.

BD: And your work has touched and inspired so many people.

When I was invited to the Marc Davis lecture a few years ago, I used to say that the only reason I came was to tell the audience to make films with all your talent and all your means better than I did. That's true… sincerely.

Bill Desowitz is the editor of VFXWorld.

The HistoryMakers Honors Eartha Kitt

THE HISTORYMAKERS will recognize actress, singer and voiceover artist Eartha Kitt on September 20, 2008 with a PBS television special titled, "An Evening with Eartha Kitt" to premier in February of 2009.

The interview and performance will be taped in front of a live audience at Northwestern University Law School's Thorne Auditorium in Chicago.
, a national 501(c) 3 non-profit representing the largest African American archival collection in the world will feature Washington Week's award-winning correspondent, Gwen Ifill as the interviewer to host a career retrospective and interview. Chicago's Merri Dee of WGN Television will emcee the program.

"To be recognized as an entertainer honoring one's craft, is a tribute. To be recognized as a true HistoryMaker is an honor," Kitt said. "THE HISTORYMAKERS mission crowns the life of all African Americans."

A performer in the truest sense of the word, Kitt's career has spanned six decades, making her an icon throughout the global entertainment industry. Her later career voice work includes the voice of Yzma on THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE film and subsequent TV show, THE EMPEROR'S NEW SCHOOL, for which she has won three Annie Awards and two Daytime Emmy Awards.

Kitt, 81, is also an author and civil rights leader, dedicating her efforts in raising more than $1 million dollars to benefit African American schools.

"An Evening With Eartha Kitt" is the 14th program in THE HISTORYMAKERS' PBS-TV series. To date, this series has raised more than $7 million in supporting the development of a priceless archive, educational resource and to preserve the rightful place of African Americans within the American lexicon.

"These are stories of determination, success against all odds and the true voices of inspiration," said founder and exec director Julieanna Richardson. "The purpose of this archive is to educate; and show the breadth and depth of this important American history as told in first person."

Things to Remember -

Something I found a while ago, and wanted to share it -

So as a public service here's some of the wisdom I learned over the years from the High and Holy Ancient Ones and uh... some not so ancient:

Shamus Culhane taught me the biggest animation studio is only two flops from disaster. One flop and the suits say "We'll learn from this and move on." Another flop and you may hear "I think we need to re-evaluate our options." That means get your portfolio out.

Today there are a lot of people running around making animation but there are fewer Animators. Chuck Jones said Animator should be a gift word. That you are not really an animator until an older master animator says you are. That's not meant to exclude you or make you feel bad. It makes it all the more meaningful when it happens.

Dick Williams taught me that in the end the best way to do something is the hard way.

Don't act like you are going to stay at one studio forever. Fleischer, UPA, Depatie Freleng, Filmation and Jay Ward were once the biggest studios in town and are now only memories for film trivia fans. To be an animator is to be a gypsy.

Checker Nancy Massie taught me you work with the same people, only the producers change.

Never stop keeping your portfolio up to date and never let your contacts go cold.

No matter how much responsibility or creative control you get on a team, if you are an employee never forget that fact. You are not management, you can get laid off like any PA. Be loyal to your employer but don't champion his interests above those of your fellow artists.

Phil Mendez taught me "Be loyal but don't be grateful to an employer for getting the chance to make him rich. Your wiggling pencil is what is giving him the ability to buy his boat."

Never leave a production before the deadline. Even if you hate the project, finish it first. Once you get a reputation as unreliable, you may draw like Michelangelo but you may never get hired again. Studios want to know who they can count on and who they can't. They'd rather hire a lesser talent who'll be there when it counts than some flighty "arteest". At the end of Roger Rabbit, Simon Wells and Andreas Deja were doing inbetweens to get the job done while others had left for the pub. That's one reason they are where they are.

Reputations once gained are hard to change. Get used to the fact that people are talking about you behind your back. When a studio hires you, they're wagering several thousand dollars and several weeks you know what you're doing, because it takes some time to see you don't. So a rep as a troublemaker or lazybones is as damaging to your career as bad artwork. But screaming about the injustice doesn't help, better to let your work change peoples minds.

Cosmo Anzilotti taught me: "Whatever you work on, no matter how crummy or trivial you think the project is, do the best possible job you can, because you never know who's watching."

It's true the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but some artists come with so many complaints they become a hassle in themselves. One freelance animator complained at the height of a deadline crush that his scenes were wrapped with too many rubberbands around them! To less tolerant studios, the way to get rid of a problem is to get rid of the person.

Chuck Jones said: "Artists should not compete with one another."

If you are moving to a city other than L. A. to work on a project, don't sell your house. You'll be back here in a few years. I've lived in London, Toronto and New York and believe me, I thought each move was for keeps.
As soon as you leave to work outside L. A. you can expect your salary to drop by at least 1/3. That includes New York and Marin. L. A. has the highest salaries and best conditions in the Animation World and that's worth fighting for.

In animation the friends you make you make forever, likewise the enemies you make will follow you from studio to studio. So no film, no one project is worth losing the respect of your peers. What people say about you does matter, because one of them may be your boss one day.

The intern you treat like dirt today may be your boss tomorrow.

If you get to be in charge of people don't think you'll never fall back into the ranks. Animation is not a guaranteed one way route up the ladder of success. My last story crew had former directors and studio heads among them. I'd like to hope I'll stay a director, but the odds are I may one day be drawing right alongside the people I once bossed around. So don't be a beast while you're in charge. Animation folk have loooonng memories.

John F. Kennedy said: "Forgive your enemies, but remember their names."

If you need to resort to your rank to get things done then you haven't explained yourself sufficiently.

Don't focus your hatred on production people. They are paid to crack the whip so the big boss can be all smiles. And if the film flops they will be as unemployed as you or me.

Robert Zemeckis said: "Film is 40% Technique and 60% Compromise." Alfred Hitchcock said: "If we get even 50% of what we asked for we'll be ahead." Be passionate about your ideas but don't fall on your sword if you don't get everything your way. Film is a collaborative medium.

You gotta learn to kill your children. Meaning your ideas and individual scenes or paintings are expendable They are a means to achieving the final work of art -- the can of film.

A lot of little studios start as three or four friends with a dream. After the company hits it big the one friend becomes a millionaire and fires the other three. Friends are Friends but Business is Business. I've worked at many places that said we were a "Family", but in the end I still got laid off.

When asked to recommend a friend, be honest but don't be cruel, it will get back to them. However, if you recommend a poor artist because they're a buddy and it doesn't work out it reflects badly on you.

This Animation Business loves rumors and gossip. "What have you heard?" "What's new?" You can't be certain who is whose friend. I once mouthed off about an artist living on the East Coast. Within the week it got back to him and he was on the phone to my boss trying to get me fired. Be discreet about who you give your opinions to because they can backfire on you. Friz Freleng waited until he was eighty-nine and a millionaire before he started telling people what he really felt about them. Sounds insincere? Hey pal, this is Hollywood, not Tibet.

Never think you're too good to learn something new or pick up a newsprint pad and do some more life drawing. Beethoven at the end of his life wished he wrote better music, Leonardo wished he could be a better painter. The best artists never stop growing.

Artists have a lot in common with sports stars. You have a limited time in which your draughtsmanship is sharp and your ideas are fresh. I hope I can be Al Hirshfeld and still draw at age ninety-six like I did at twenty-five, but nature and the odds say I won't. The provisions you set aside when you are at your peak will be what you'll have to fall back on when you get old.

And thinking one company will support you your whole career just because you are loyal is the quickest way to food stamps in old age.

That's another reason I support this union. Studios will come and go over the decades but the union plans to be here forever.

So those are some of the rules I've learned coming up through the Biz. I don't profess to know it all, although some say I act like I do. If you can think of any others maxims I'd love to hear from you.

As JOHN POMEROY likes to quote: "We can see far when we stand on the shoulders of giants."

-- Tom Sito

Working the Friday Dream

I've rambled around studios a lot this week, but blogged little about it. Everything was either A) boring, or B) stuff I didn't want to wag around the internets.

Nothing screamed at me, "Hey now. This would make a good blog post!"

But today is a little different ...

The animation crews on the east side of DreamWorks' campus will shortly be moving to the Lakeside Building, now that the upper floors have been revamped.

"The studio's been holding meetings about the move. We're gonna be in cubicles instead of offices. A lot of the cubes are nice and roomy, and an improvement for some people. But I donno. I'm going to miss having a room."

I ran across ace animator James Baxter, who is back at the studio animating on Aliens Vs. Monsters and designing characters for an upcoming feature. he said he's pretty much shuttered his company James Baxter Animation for the time being, and is back in the Land of Splashing Fountains as a full-time DreamWorks employee. And is happy with the decision.

"It was good having my own company, and I learned a lot. We did the Enchanted animation and hand-drawn work on Kung Fu Panda. I took the business address off the website, but I might go back and get other projects going in the future ..."

Shrek Goes Fourth has a small animation crew working away on experimental animation, the kind that always goes on during ramp up. A staffer said they're a month or two away from starting work on a sequence, with the normal production cycle following behind.

One veteran DreamWorker who recently returned to the studio after lengthy time away said:

"When I left, morale was not real high around here. But it seems to be a lot more 'up' in the time I've been back."

A string of hit films will do that.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Good Animation, Bad Animation

One notch down, there is some testy back and forth about the animation in Enchanted. Is it good, is it bad? Is it lacklustre, is it inspired?

Here's why the argument is ultimately fruitless:

"De gustibus non est disputandum." In English that would come out: "In matters of taste, there is no argument." (More literally: "There is not to be discussion regarding tastes")

I liked Enchanted's animation fine. (You may disagree.)

Frank Thomas disliked Woolie Reitherman's broad animation of Captain Hook. (I was crazy about it.)

Ollie Johnston thought the best animation he did was in Robin Hood (I was in shock when he told me this.)

As related by Ken Anderson, Walt Disney was not enamored of the design and "look" of 101 Dalmations. (Many think it's spectacular ... and groundbreaking.).

Milt Kahl was disdainful of the animation in the early features, preferring the tighter, "subtler" animation of the fifties and sixties. (Others think the pioneering stuff is the cat's pajamas.)

Some commenters here believe that hand-drawn animation is the real deal, while cg animation is "digital puppetry." (I would argue with that on multiple levels, but in any event, audiences worldwide appear to be voting with their wallets in favor of the puppetry.

"De gustibus non est disputandum."

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

TIFF 08: The Sky Crawlers

Mamoru Oshii's latest film is an adaptation of Hiroshi Mori's novels of the same name, and tells the story of an ageless pilot, Yuichi Kannami, who transfers to a remote airbase controlled by a cold, self-destructive young girl named Suito Kusanagi afflicted with the same condition that keeps him eternally youthful. They also share an affinity for aerial dogfighting, and the relationship between the two ace pilots deepens as Yuichi slowly recollects fragments of his mysterious past and gets to know the odd denizens of the surrounding countryside.

The plot for Oshii's latest film sounds strangely peaceful for a film about war, and it is. The film unfolds at a leisurely pace (it lasts a lavish 122 minutes), with plenty of time to show the viewer intimate details about the alternate Europe that Yuichi and his fellow pilots inhabit. Oshii clearly holds high regard for Mori's fictional environment and sough to reproduce it with love and attention. The simple but startling beauty of the countryside, the quiet shadows of an abandoned city, and the cramped quarters of a converted manor house all resonate sharply in photorealistic animation and perfect sound.

And, of course, there are the dogfights.

Oshii's films, even his live-action work, are known for their sudden swerves into shockingly elegant violence. This is no different. The title is apt: these pilots are insects crawling across a sky that is vast and deep, limitless and unforgiving. While the dogfights are less visceral, perhaps, than the first scene of Innocence, they do communicate the dizzying, nearly nihilistic quality inherent to aerial combat: Yuichi survives because he is a good pilot, not because he's an arrogant flyer who likes to show off. This isn't Top Gun or even Macross Plus: Yuichi has no special moves, no prototype plane, nothing but skill and experience.

But his experience is the heart of the film, as we discover that there is more behind the "Kildren" -- people who, like Yuichi, remain eternally adolescent -- than a simple genetic disorder. There are clues layered throughout, and Yuichi's realizations come slowly but surely, a story that he pieces together rather than a sudden, shocking recollection. The film's ultimate conclusion is surprisingly hopeful for an Oshii film: eternity is not a life sentence, but a chance to start again.

However, there are some standard Oshii issues: a striking lack of exposition, and a lyrical pace that favours characterization and setting over plot or coherence. The story is secondary to the sentiment, but the story is also pure Oshii: a dreamlike exercise in issues of memory, identity, and the role of the military in a peaceful society. Along the way we get a heartbreaking love story, an endearing environment, and several references to Oshii's past work and anime in general (even the afore-mentioned Macross Plus). The story is not about an alternate universe; rather, the universe is the story.

Thankfully, The Sky Crawlers manages to avoid the long, drawn-out mindgames that feature so prominently in Oshii's other work. Gone are the painful, film-interrupting chunks of classical quotations, and gone are the belaboured references to Oshii's beloved Basset Gabu. (Don't worry; Gabu shows up, but as a dog and not an advertisement.) We get a tiny nod to Camus, but the script is remarkably clutter-free.

Featured above is the six-minute promotional trailer available at the Ghibli Museum. Studio Ghibli worked alongside Production IG on the film, and the whole film is infused with expertise from its auteur director to the Skywalker Sound work. Sony Pictures just picked it up, so hopefully we'll see distribution soon.

(Thanks fpsmagazine)

Wonder Woman Wachowski Rumors Debunked

MTV News has been doing a dutiful job trying to keep up with all the wayward fragments of the shattered Justice League movie, like keeping tabs on the Wonder Woman movie, which has been sitting snuggly in the lap of producer Joel Silver (The Matrix) for some time now.

According to MTV, Silver, like the man with his finger on the big red button, had been thinking of handing Wonder Woman over to the Wachowski Bros. (The Matrix). Thankfully, El Mayimbe from Latino Review were able to deflate this troubling rumor, while we here at Screen Rant looked into what’s really going on with big-screen adaptation of America’s favorite Amazon.

According to the rumor mill, fantasy guru Josh Whedon was working on a script for Wonder Woman, but quit the project when producers Joel Silver and Leonard Goldberg decided to go with a WWII-centered script by relatively unknown scribes, Matt Jennison and Matt Strickland.

(You can get a full account of how Whedon would’ve done Wonder Woman in this MTV interview.)

Further demonstrating just what breed of geniuses studio execs really are, Goldberg had this to say about Warner Bros.’ falling out with Whedon:

“We’ve tried that route. We’ve had a writer-director work on it,” said Goldberg, who declined to comment specifically on the Whedon dustup. “But I’m old school. When we have a script to present to directors, we’ll sit down with them and see who has a take that blows us away.”

…Which brings us back around to the Wachowski Bros. Joel Silver and the Bros. have been a team ever since the conception of the universe—and while unlikely, it is at least possible that Warner Bros. is either dumb or daring enough to believe that The Matrix lighting can strike twice.

“At one time, Joel [Silver] said they might have an idea. But they got diverted to another project [and] never followed through,” he said, before adding, “There may come a time when they will be focused on ‘Wonder Woman’ and may come up with whatever their take on it was. They’re certainly very talented guys. Their vision for movies — whether they’re successful or not — is always singular.”

So that’s the reason for Speed Racer. “Singular vision.” Ah.

As it stands now, Matts Jennison and Strickland are buckled down doing a second draft of their script, which Goldberg has stated he hopes to be “more current.” (Duh.) Though, to his credit, Goldberg went on to say that he doesn’t want to see the same old story about pilot Steve Trevor crashing on an island full of Amazons; but rather, like most of us, he wants to see an updated, original spin on Wonder Woman that will knock the socks off moviegoers. (Basically what Whedon would’ve delivered, had he been left alone to run with the project.)

At the end of day, whatever director gets attached to Wonder Woman won’t be the best candidate for the job. That ship pretty much sailed with Joss Whedon. But then, that’s just my opinion, what do you think?

Jon Favreau on the Iron Man Franchise!

Jon Favreau just can't seem to talk too much about Iron Man 2 without talking about Iron Man 3.

The actor/director, who sat down with Hype! to discuss Iron Man's upcoming DVD release on Sept. 30, revealed a wealth of information about his plans for helming billionaire Tony Stark's next adventure(s) in his high-tech armor – everything's still in the planning stages, but he and his collaborators have already targeted several overall story elements they expect to include. Among the revelations:

--Favreau, who admires long-form storytelling, has clearly given extensive thought to big-screen franchises, speaking in detailed terms about what worked and what didn't in the "The Lord of the Rings," "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" trilogies, and he expects to find storylines and themes that will carry through the second film and conclude in a third. He said he doesn't foresee any problems devoting the bulk of his filmmaking efforts to seeing the franchise through to the end.

--Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Terrence Howard (James "Rhodey" Rhodes) are all on board for the sequel and enthusiastic about revisiting their characters. And Favreau will be back on screen as well as behind the camera, with a (possibly expanded) role as Happy Hogan.

--He recently met with Downey at the actor's home and discussed at length the kind of character beats and moments he hopes to have when he returns to the character. Downey also introduced Favreau to actor/screenwriter Justin Theroux, who impressed Downey with his work on the actor's second summer hit Tropic Thunder, and Theroux is now working with Favreau to develop the story.

--Iron Man's classic comic book nemesis the Mandarin, the Asian crimelord who sports ten powerful ring weapons (alluded to in the first film through references to the terrorist cell the Ten Rings) will most likely emerge as a primary antagonist, although Favreau is still wrestling with how to address the villain's mystical origins and fit them into the high-tech world established in the debut film. It's also possible the Mandarin may not be fully revealed as the "Big Bad" until a possible third film to avoiding overexposing a potentially intriguing enemy .

--Favreau plans to follow the first film's themes of integrating social and political themes into the adventure and fantasy, and he hinted at a current global situation providing some inspiration – possibly an allusion to plans to utilize Iron Man's Russian counterpart, the Crimson Dynamo.

--Impressed by the use of IMAX footage in The Dark Knight, Favreau's very open to including both IMAX and 3-D sequences in the sequel.

--The most well-known storylines from the comic book series – "Demon in a Bottle," in which Stark becomes an alcoholic, and Rhodey taking over the role and armor of Iron Man during Stark's recovery – are expected to be included, possibly both in the second sequel. Rhodey's role in the first film was not as expansive as originally intended, and Favreau expects to rectify that.

--Favreau is also having designs developed for Rhodey's "War Machine" armor, and even more upgraded and tricked-out versions of Stark's suit may be utilized.

--Marvel's current plans to set its upcoming slate of films – including Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor and The Avengers – in the same shared universe as Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk is a tricky but still inviting prospect for Favreau, who plans to utilize his improvisational background to find clever ways to integrate certain elements of the other films into the sequels, enhancing and not disrupting his own storytelling needs. He thinks Cap and Hulk fit fairly easily into Iron Man's world, while Thor is more of a challenge.

--The director is finding a degree of inspiration in comic book writer Matt Faction's current run on "The Invincible Iron Man," which he feels in turn found inspiration from his film.

Read what Favreau had to tell Hype! in detail:

Q: People were excited about "Iron Man" at the beginning of the summer, and then it hit bigger than people expected. Were you surprised, or did you know America needed Tony Stark?

I was surprised by everything. I was surprised that the reviews were so strong. Then I was surprised that it made so much money and then I was surprised that "Dark Knight" had better reviews and that it made so much more money. So on the one hand it was really unexpected and a serendipitous summer for me and then on top of that it was surprising at just how history had been made by this other movie as well. Oddly, when "Dark Knight" finally came out and was received the way that it was it was such a relief for me because I really felt like we went from no one expecting anything to people starting to expect something to this new phenomena where they report what they project on making based on tracking. So we could've made $20 million or $30 million less than we opened to and been a huge hit, but having the perception of being a failure because we didn't live up to the expectations based on the people who were reading that data. It wasn't long ago that they would never even report what the number one movie was. Now the top ten box office is in USA Today and now it's hitting this point where this real inside baseball tracking and projections and…all the fantasy mogul type sites. Those people are starting with their blogs to get out there and those numbers seep into all the mainstream Hollywood websites and it's becoming one big bowl of information out there that you can't really escape from. So first it was like, "Who the hell cares about Marvel's B-level heroes that they're marching out?" when they first announced that they were making the movie, to Comic-Con where it started building momentum a year later, to this fever pitch. It was this point where we were really scared that we were going to disappoint and then to the point where we outdid those expectations. So we're there sort of teetering on the brink, and then "Dark Knight" comes in and just makes history. All of a sudden the relief of that spotlight moving off of us from the guard tower and now we have two years to lay low and really work on the movie without the type of scrutiny that we were feeling right in that white hot moment after we came out.

Q: Why do you think this period of time is so good for superhero movies?

I think 9/11. I think that, interestingly enough today we're meeting, but I think that was a game changer. I think people were looking for emotional simplicity, escapism and if you look at it, there were superhero movies before. "Spider-Man," but that first "Spider-Man" was hitting right, I think, in May of 2002 when it was the first way that we could get to those emotions because you couldn't say anything about politics. You couldn't say anything about war. People just didn't want to deal with it, but you put people in a costume and say, "This is the good guy. This is the bad guy," and you either set in a fantasy world like "Lord of the Rings" or in the Marvel Universe, you all of a sudden allow people like kids and adults to experience those emotions in a way where they dealing with very real emotions in a very escapist way. I think that's become more and more complex as we become more and more comfortable with where we are in the world now, whatever it is, seven years later and you can have a movie like "The Dark Knight," where you start to deal with those things. You can show people on a battlefield in Afghanistan, like in "Iron Man." There's a line that you can't cross, but that line is moving and I think there's going to be a new thing here. I'm glad that I was able to hit the crest of this genre and I feel safe because now we have a built in audience and I think we'll do well with our sequel, but you wonder when and how that is going to change because whoever gets voted in, you have probably the most extreme and contrasting figures that both political parties have to offer to what we're currently experiencing. So I think there's going to be an incredible transformation. I don't know what it's going to be. I don't know how the economy is going to affect that. I don't know what the politics are really going to look like, but I know that change is coming one way or another. They say one is change and one isn't. I think that McCain has always been the guy who was the outsider within that party. So I think that even if McCain wins, you're going to see incredible movement and incredible change within our political system and within our culture. So I wonder as a moviemaker how that's going to affect audiences, what they like and what the attitude is, but I don't think it's something that turns on a dime. Then again I'm not going to be sitting here in front of you for another two years until the other movie, "Iron Man 2," is coming out. I think by then the dust will have settled a little bit and it'll be very interesting to see how to handle that.

Q: How has Marvel's plan to integrate their universe in films changed your plan, going from a franchise to a mega-franchise?

It's tough because it first starts off like, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun if we stuck a Captain America shield in the background? Wouldn't it be fun if we have Sam Jackson play Nick Fury like in "The Ultimate Avengers"?' It's like, "Let's prove ourselves to our fans." So you do that. Now, between the Captain America shield and Nick Fury and then the after-the-credit scene that in the eleventh hour became the final scene of "The [Incredible] Hulk," that one was a big one for me. I was like, "Wow, we're forming a team. We're going to that guy and you're forming a team." That's clearly not the day after "Iron Man" ended. Where does it fit in the time continuum? I don't want to just ignore it or do what the comic books have done. I guess you could do what Marvel has said: "It's an alternate universe." They've gotten away with that one for a couple of decades, but how do you make all that work within that world? Because I think it is fun and I think that "Hulk" was successful in keeping a tone that did not seem inconsistent with our film, and certainly with Robert being in there. But we definitely now have a lot of things [to consider]. Look, I come out of improv, and in improv you say, "Okay, give me a suggestion of a place, a line of dialogue –" and here it's like, "Okay. Give me three scenes that I have to incorporate into my next movie." So it's a challenge. What's refreshing is that I don't go back and it's not like you have a studio executive who could care less, like, "I don't give a sh*t. Just make whatever, whatever tests best." In this case you have Kevin Feige who's like, "How are we going to solve this puzzle?" It's like a Rubik's Cube to them as well. Just all that brainpower addressing something makes you come up with interesting solutions. So we have a pretty good game plan. Then there are conversations that I've been having with them about "The Avengers" too. Remember, with "Avengers" you're not just dealing with tech. You're dealing with inter-dimensional portals and all the sh*t that makes you jump the shark if you don't handle it right. So we were very restrained in how we used our superhero-ism in our movie and we did that by keeping it all tech based. Then "Hulk" went a little the same way. It's still kind of tech-based. You get to Cap and you say, "Okay, he was frozen in that thing –" and it's like, "Okay, I could maybe buy that, with the super-soldier thing." Then you get into Thor and it's like, "Okay, well now..." and so how do you make that all feel like it's in the same world as our movie is? That's going to be the challenge moving forward.

Q: You don't have The Mandarin in "Iron Man" but you referenced him with the Ten Rings, and so you can get that fantastical stuff in there with that character if you wanted it, right?

It is. The Mandarin is such a tricky character for us because everywhere you turn it's a minefield. So we get into the mystical Asian dark arts and inter-dimensional travel and all the rings that do the different things and psychic abilities and stuff and it's like, "That could be cool. Maybe it's cool. Maybe if we make it really authentic." Then you see the trailer for "The Mummy" movie and it's like they've got The Manderin AND Fing Fang Foom in there! And they shot in China and it's like as authentic as you're ever going to get. It's like, "Ooh, I don't know if that fits our film." It was great for "The Mummy," though. So where do you go with it? What are your rules and how do you stay consistent with them? What happens is that people get desperate as they're looking for inspiration to up the ante and so you start breaking your own rules, and that's when the movies start to lose their identity.

Q: You've hinted at The Mandarin in the third film.

Yeah, The Mandarin is still the guy. He's the main guy, but we always remind ourselves that nobody liked The Emperor compared to Darth Vader in the "Star Wars" movies. He's got the same lightening bolts, but when The Emperor was this figure that you just saw obliquely it was like, "Sh*t, Darth Vader is bowing to someone? That guy must be really cool!" But then as he talked more it was like, "Alright, enough." In "The Clone Wars" he was like a sidekick. So it's really all how you treat the person and that's what informs what it's going to be. So the Mandarin, to have that kind of weight to him is really a matter of using all the narrative tricks to do it, but a dude running and jumping around in robes shooting these beams and rays that have powers that really, if you take them literally, would throw off the balance of the whole universe. So how do you do that and keep the whole thing together, but yet fulfill the expectations from the book? We do have him and I think it's something where I feel a little bit goes a long way. So there's a lot of other characters and a lot of other countries that have become very interesting lately that fit very well into our universe. The "Iron Man" canon has become incredibly cogent and applicable once again.

Q: How is the writing coming along?

The writing is really coming along quite well. We have Justin Theroux working on it, who Downey knows. He echoes Downey's tastes a lot. They worked together on "Tropic Thunder." He's an actor. I come at it writing it the same way that he does and so he brings this real sense of fun. He's never worked in this genre before and so he has that great newcomers enthusiasm that I think we still share. Then it's about, "Okay, here are the books. Here's what we've got. Here's the story." So we're breaking story and pages are coming out, but it's really more of a conversation than actual writing right now. The pages come, but the pages are never really what they are going to be in the movie up until the day you're shooting, even on ours.

Q: Can you say which pages they are?

Which pages of which comic book? No. We're making our own story. Although, I'll tell you which ones we're looking at very closely, not so much for story, but for tone and the way it's been executed – it's the Matt Fraction stuff. I haven't talked to him yet, but we want to talk to him and get him out here and get [comic book] Adi [Granov] out here and get some of the real defining lines from the book, but the Fraction series seems to be informed as much by our movie as it is by what happened with Iron Man before. So it's a very curious combination. I'm dabbling [in comics] writing the "Viva Las Vegas" books and it's fun, and I read what he does and it's like, "Wow, this guy is really true to treating it like with a seriousness that you would a movie or a book." For me it's like all the stuff that I can't do in a movie and see what Adi comes up with drawing. But there's a different approach. The Fraction series is informed by current events and what's going on in the world. I'm very impressed by what he's written.

Q: The two major aspects of the "Iron Man" mythology are the "Demon in the Bottle" story and being replaced at some point by Rhodey. Do you have plans to look at that in the sequel?

There's always the sense of like, "Let's save something for another movie." But I think there's a way to wade into it and if it's done right you're not going to have to turn on a dime. I know in "Spider-Man" he seems to be dealing with different issues in each film because they're very modular. Ours we wanted to sort of stretch it out, more like three chapters of the same story. There was sense, even though I know they shot "Lord of the Rings" and re-shot some things, there was still some sense of an underlying movement of Aragorn to becoming king. But you watch the first movie or read the first book and you're like, "Who is this mysterious guy, this Han Solo type character?" You're like, "Great!" and as you add more detail to it he becomes a little bit less interesting to me and yet consistent in the story and then you feel like you're being taken on a journey. I really like long form storytelling. I love television, not all television, but I really love certain TV shows. The ones that I like I really, really like even more than movies because you're able to tell stories and it's not like a haiku poem where you're just telling a story in an hour and a half. You have a long time and I really liked the first season of "Heroes" and I'll watch a thing back to back. I'll just get the box set or just download it and watch the whole deal and I really looked forward to that… There's a sense of using a much larger thing and you have much smarter audiences who have a tremendous capacity to remember things and have complex storytelling. You see it more in TV series and in video games now. Movies are kind of what they are. It's like a rock and roll song. You have your thing, your bridge and your end and you have to fit that format. It's very populist and it's very accessible to everybody. How do you keep making rock and roll songs and do, whatever, "The White Album?" How do you put it all together with other movies and make it something that's a larger experience for people who are paying attention and yet not so complex that if you're not paying attention you're going to not have fun. I found myself in a lot of the sequels, not this last year, but the year before, of movies that I really liked and having not gone back to watch the other ones and being a little bit lost to what's going on. I'm a moviemaker and I'm pretty smart audience member and I just don't have that attention span. I want to figure out if I can maybe get a better version of that going while still doing filmmaking and still upping the ante with how much you're putting on the screen and the humor and the dialogue and living up to everything that people will have come to expect from the last movie we made.

Q: This movie ends with a brawl. In the sequel are you looking to transcend that and go bigger than that?

I am. I mean, a lot of that truth be told came from the fact that we were being very ambitious as far as what we were going to accomplish with the amount of money that we had. So we went forward with the plan of, "Lets shoot as much practically as we can..." which I'm onboard for because I like that kind of thing. I loved the Stan Winston suit and the way that it was designed. I like going, "Let's see what we can accomplish with it." Well, the Mark I we got a lot accomplished with. I'd say that ninety percent of what you see in there is the suit with a little bit of wire removal or removing the hoses for the flames, but a lot of that was practical. Certainly it was just augmentation, and then by the time that you got to the Mark II you were doing a lot of flying and we hand it off even more and the suit that they built was a great reference for ILM, but then when we got into the stuff with him fighting with the real suit it just looked terrible. It looked like the Power Rangers. There was always the money for the real suit to be replaced. They always had it to the side and we finished on time and on budget so we had money left over to do that, and the problem is that even though you're using a CG suit the plates and the action are still based on what someone was going to do on the ground. So it's a sort of mixed blessing on. On the one hand it's a bummer because we would've liked to have more of the flying, and we did add one sequence where they went up into space, but it just sort of sang really as well as it could've had we planned originally to have it that way. But the good news is that it was successful and people liked it because of the characters and the emotion and ultimately what the whole of the film was and it left us a lot of room to improve upon it for the next time around. That's another big challenge, how do you outdo yourself. When you go to hear you have to go further the next time and you're just going to lose your personality. So it's nice to have succeeded with humble beginnings as far as the action goes. Now I know I've learned a lot more. The last thing that we shot, the re-shoots with what used to be second unit and then we went out there with a unit and shot it, the part where the hostages are being taken and the guns came out of the shoulders. I think we found the personality and the sense of humor of the action. I found a way to be smart and clever about that, I think, and that was always my problem. It was like whenever you cut to the action it was like, "Okay, now have them hit each other." In every movie that you look at, even in the good ones it's tough to get away from that whether it's the new Batman, which is sort of the gold standard. But if you look at it it's still just people fighting. It's just people going at it and you have to do a good of it and have it coordinated well…If you remove it then it's not a superhero movie anymore because there are people who will go to see that and that's what's going to make people go see your trailer and that's what's going to make you open enough to have the budget that you need to do it right.

Q: How much is Downey involved in the development of the sequel?

I was at his house yesterday. I was there yesterday and he's getting ready to go do "Sherlock Holmes," leaving Sunday. He went to Japan briefly to promote this movie there, "Iron Man," but clearly we met Justin through him. He really thought the world of him from that process and there was a lot of writing going on during that film too. There are things like, "What do you want to play, Robert? What should we do?" Robert was very collaborative on the set and writing it and making all the choices. Part of my gig is to not just ask him to stand on his mark, but learn to bring enough of his reality into it so that it seems interesting and has more dimension. So he's been very involved and his star has only risen and his leverage is only greater, and now he's not the guy who's like, "Please let me screen test." Now he's the guy who's being offered every movie in town.

Q: Are you logistically concerned with having huge stars and huge characters that if this combination of universes happens that they'll have to share screen time and that all that business might get in the way of the storytelling?

That's sort of the danger isn't it. Forget about creatively, but just from a perspective of finances, but somehow they make "Ocean's 11." So there are clearly business models and I think that it has more to do if people are enthusiastic and feel like they're going to be in a movie that they'll be proud of. The truth is that most stars of that level would love to be in a movie where they're not everyday on the call sheet and they're not the only one carrying the burden for the press junket.

Q: Since you're coming back for the sequel to this and assuming a third one. that'll be a decade in Tony Stark's world. As a filmmaker does that make you want to slip a different one in there for yourself, or are you ready to just do ten years of this?

It's one day at a time and here's the funny thing that happens. Well, this next one is going to be good because this next one is like, "Okay, now creatively I have a lot of room. They'll pay me well if it does well. I know everybody and everybody can't wait to see it." On top of that, as a fan of these types of films, not necessarily the genre completely which is very hit or miss for me, but I'm definitely part of the audience. If it's good I'm there. But I'm not going to go just because it's this, but I notice a pattern where the second one, the sequels are usually better than the first ones because you know the origin story, you have that already and it's been proven again with "Dark Knight." You've got "X-Men 2," "Spider-Man 2," "Dark Knight." When you get into three's it gets weird. It's real hit or miss and four as well. That's even harder. So how do you avoid the mistakes of others, but I don't really have to go there yet. I'm like, "Now is the time when I know who this guy is. They trust me as a director, the studio needs this and they're just as excited about this as I am and everyone is waiting to see what we do next"…. So for the third one you're asking yourself, "Okay, what are they asking of me? What is their left to say? What am I doing this for?" Then there's a lot of pressure on you to do it. I think that it only continues as it goes on. What's nice about this is with "The Avengers" you have other characters coming in and out and that's going to change the dynamic of it too. I think also there would be more of a sense of fun at that point in doing it because you get more playful with the whole thing. But to answer your question, I would love to work for ten years on one successful L.A.-based franchise with people that I really like and connect with, telling stories that I think have some social and emotional resonance but aren't so heavy handed that it's not fun and I get to play with all the toys and the new CG and the new building sets and costumes and all the stuff that I love reading about in Starlog I get to do in the meetings. I don't think it's by accident that I ended up here. I worked hard and I always knew that this is something that I would love to be. This is the perfect situation right now.

Q: There's also been talk of War Machine. Can you talk about that?

I want to do it. We're drawing War Machine. We're figuring it out. We're talking to Terrence [Howard]. We're seeing if he can take some time out of his new life as a musician to be War Machine, to do it. I think that Terrence and the character of Rhodey was smaller in the first movie than we had anticipated, but that's how it worked for the movie. That's how it worked best for the story, the best way to tell that story of the origin, spending half of the movie in the cave. But it does set the table very well for this character. War Machine is fun and, again, you look for ways to up the ante. It's tough to up the ante on the villain side without going into strange territories, but what we can do is really have a lot of fun with our family, our main characters and that includes myself. I expect to have more to do in this one or I will walk [Laughs]. We certainly have Rhodey and Gwyneth – really, it's the best work that I've seen her do, for me, for my tastes. I know she's won Oscars and stuff and she's a good actress, but for me I thought that she had great chemistry with Robert. Of course we'll see more of Robert and then we'll see how that basic group of four people moves forward towards the inevitable "Avengers" that's coming, and how The Mandarin, how largely he looms in this next one. These are the types of things that we're doing, but mostly from a perspective of tone.

Q: You really reached out to the fans on this film, but at the same time there was a lot of stuff that leaked that you didn't want out there. How are you going to deal with that this time around?

We're not. I think that it worked out. You don't care if someone leaks something or if someone knows something. You care about whether it hurts the movie. So, Marvel knows that if you're getting to the point where something is probably going to get leaked soon you release a photo and steal the thunder. Get a good well lit shot as opposed to some cell phone shot that someone else will take. You don't want to ruin the nature of it. "Transformers" was incredibly successful, but if you remember early on there were photos that leaked out and it was like, "What's this? That's what the movie looks like?" So you have to learn how to deal with the rhythms of the Internet, but I'll take it any day over people not caring and that's what drove us. That Comic-Con bootleg video was the first thing that anyone saw and it was really fun. It was like they couldn't quite make it out and they were trying like hell to get it down. It just took them a while. I was like, "Why are you even trying? It's a good thing." They were like, "No, no. We have to take it down." I said, "Okay, we'll put up a clean version." Then eventually they put up a clean version on the Apple site, but it wasn't nearly as fun as when you heard the crowd over the cell phone. So I know kind of what it is. I don't get disappointed and frustrated. It's just the nature of things…I'm not worried about the fans. It's just a huge water cooler that everyone is talking around and with all this stuff like Twitter and everyone with their little blogs and their conversations in real time, people knew about "Iron Man" before that panel was out at Comic-Con because people were there on their laptops. So that's incredible. That's grass roots. That's mobilizing. It's like what's happening to the political system. It's here to stay. Embrace and don't be scared and frustrated about it and try to stop it. It's like trying to stop the tide. I think that I'm one of the few guys out there that really gets it. I think that Zack [Snyder] does too. Clearly he's getting something going with "300" and "Watchmen" and that dialogue, but you can't just hide and say that you're not going to do press if you're a director, not for this kind of movie. You're one of the guys. You're one of the stars. You have to be out there and you have to be promoting it and you should be happy that people are curious to ask you this kind of stuff. Fortunately I come from a background where I did have to promote things as an actor so that it doesn't freak me out. I actually like it and I like to be able to speak about something that I'm actually having something to do with making and not just a character I'm playing and talking about the sh*t that I kept in my pocket when I performed, my acting motivation or how many times I spray-tanned.

Q: You mentioned "Dark Knight's" jaw-dropping action. As a filmmaker are you even thinking about doing that too?

I would love to do some IMAX stuff. I think that's going to be a game-changer. I would love to do some of it on IMAX for IMAX. It's all a matter of dollars and cents for them. I would also love to do 3-D.

Q: For this one?

For this one. I would love to do 3-D because just think of the HUD. Just think of that virtual space and what that would be like, the layers and what you could get away with and how much fun it could be. It also drives people to see it in the theater and makes it that much more of an experience. But it all comes down to how much does it cost and what do they get for it. My leverage only goes so far with technical issues like that… But by the same token this is Tony Stark's world, this is like James Bond. It's got to feel big and he has to feel rich and he's got to feel real. So that costs money. Then the action has to be more than what we had last time. So, Marvel has said to me that they're certainly not going to try to save money on this film… Look, there's clearly an amount of money that they have in mind that they talk about amongst themselves and the good news is that they're not hitting me with a budget. What they're saying is, "Lets get the best script that we can and lets look at it." But everyone knows that they're going to make another one of these and so it becomes more of a conversation as opposed to most films where it's like, "You're not going to get your green light if you don't do this." They clearly want to do it with me and with Robert and for 2010. So it's a new experience. I haven't gone through it before, but it worked out well the last time, which was probably a lot more challenging than what this time will be, especially when you see that we made over $300 million, which doesn't seem to be an anomaly. "The Dark Knight" made $500 million. So there's clearly an audience for this type of movie and I think that makes them comfortable, and I think the real winner is the fans. So in supporting these movies the fan has ensured that you're going to have another crop of well-made sequels.

Guggenheim Talks Green Lantern Script

Almost a year ago it was announced that Greg Berlanti was set to direct the live-action take on DC Comics' Green Lantern, which he would write with Marc Guggenheim and Michael Green.

Now, Guggenheim has given an update:

"I've been working my ass off on Green Lantern," he said, then laughed. "I'm ready for a weekend off. I really can't say too much about it. I've sworn a blood oath of secrecy. I will tell you it features Hal Jordan and is an incredibly faithful rendition of the character. It honors everything everyone loves about the hero. We approach it from a fan's perspective. Every step of the way, we ask ourselves what we want to see and what the fans will want to see. I think we have a script that will actually satisfy on those levels. Right now I'm just doing a rewrite for the studio with Greg [Berlanti] and Michael [Green]. We'll turn that in next week. We just keep moving forward. It's really good stuff!"

Green Lantern was created in 1940. Hal Jordan, a second-generation test pilot, is an ordinary man who has been charged with defending a sector of the universe.

Rourke back to 'Sin City'?

A time for a 'Sin City' sequel seems to have come and gone, and actor Mickey Rourke, who lit up the first one as the tragic Marv, said he's open to reuniting with the director for another round.

"I have a lot of respect for Robert Rodriguez," Rourke told MTV Splash Page. "It scares the piss out of me to sit in make-up for three hours [but] if the role is written the right way, I would do it because it was a good experience. I wasted a lot of time. I want to work with interesting directors. I'm going to do a lot of work because of the time I wasted."

It's true that Marv was killed during the first movie, but Frank Miller's series of graphic novels has continued to make use of him as a supporting player in other characters' stories, which take place before the events of Book 1, "The Hard Goodbye".


The Dark Knight topped nominations for Spike TV's SCREAM 2008 awards, announced on Wednesday, with 21.

The awards will be taped on Saturday, Oct. 18 at The Greek Theater in Los Angeles and will premiere on Spike TV on Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).

Show host, presenters and musical performers to be announced shortly.

Iron Man landed 14 nominations, with Hellboy II: The Golden Army notching 13.

Winners will determined through voting on Spike TV's website from Sept. 12-Oct. 17.



The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Iron Man
The Mist


The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The Incredible Hulk


30 Days of Night
The Mist
The Orphanage
The Ruins
The Strangers
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street


I Am Legend
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Iron Man
Southland Tales


Battlestar Galactica
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles


Christian Bale, Batman, The Dark Knight
Will Smith, John Hancock, Hancock
Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura, Heroes.
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Iron Man
Edward Norton as the Hulk, Incredible Hulk.
Ron Perlman, Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army


Christian Bale, The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
James McAvoy, Wanted
Edward Norton, The Incredible Hulk
Terry O'Quinn, Lost
Ron Perlman, Hellboy II: The Golden Army


Fernando Cayo,
The Orphanage
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Thomas Jane, The Mist
Jared Padalecki, Supernatural
Jonathan Tucker, The Ruins


Anna Friel, Pushing Daisies
Jessica Lucas, Cloverfield
T.J. Miller, Cloverfield
Anna Walton, Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Odette Yustman, Cloverfield


Julie Benz,
Jena Malone, The Ruins,
Belen Rueda, The Orphanage
Liv Tyler, The Strangers
Naomi Watts, Funny Games
Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.


Tobin Bell, Jigsaw, Saw IV
Jeff Bridge, Obadiah Stane,
Iron Man
Aaron Eckhart, Two-Face, The Dark Knight
Zachary Quinto, Sylar, Heroes
Heath Ledger, Joker,
The Dark Knight
Alan Rickman, Judge Turpin, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street


Amy Adams,
Selma Blair, Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Dark Knight
Angelina Jolie, Wanted
Hayden Panettiere, Heroes
Charlize Theron,


Jason Bateman, Hancock
Michael Caine, The Dark Knight
Terrence Howard, Iron Man
Doug Jones, Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Gary Oldman, The Dark Knight
Shia LaBeouf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


The Batmobile/Batpod Chase, The Dark Knight
The Big Rig Flips Over, The Dark Knight
Escape From Ten Rings Hideout, Iron Man
Iron Man¹s First Flight; Iron Man
The Reverse Kill Shot; Wanted
The Statue Of Liberty/Empire State Building Attack, Cloverfield


Attack by the Infected, I Am Legend
The Autopsy, Saw IV
The Pencil Trick, The Dark Knight
Bitten by a Vagina with Teeth, Teeth
The Leg Amputation, The Ruins
Attacked by Flesh-Eating Tooth Fairies, Hellboy II: The Golden Army


Cloverfield, Drew Goddard
The Mist, Frank Darabont
The Orphanage, Sergio G. Sanchex
, Andrew Stanton, Peter Docter and Jim Reardon
The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Iron Man, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Arthur Marcum and Matthew Hollaway.


Army of Darkness
Battlestar Galactica
Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash
A Nightmare on Elmstreet
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Resident Evil: Extinction
Saw IV


Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Frank Darabont, The Mist
Guillermo del Toro,
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Jon Favreau, Iron Man
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Rob Zombie Halloween


The Eye
Funny Games
The Incredible Hulk
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Prom Night


Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man
Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Dwayne Johnson, Southland Tales
Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica
Will Smith, I Am Legend
David Tennant, Doctor Who


Summer Glau, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Tricia Helfer, Battlestar Galactica
Lena Headey, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Milla Jovovich, Resident Evil
Gwyneth Paltrow, Iron Man
Odette Yustman, Cloverfield


The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Iron Man


Astonishing X-Men
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier
The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suit
The Walking Dead
Y: The Last Man


30 Days of Night
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man


Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella Academy
Darwyn Cooke, The Spirit
Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man
Jim Lee, All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder
Joe Quesada, Amazing Spider-Man
Alex Ross, Project Superpowers


Warren Ellis, Anna Mercury, Black Summer, Doktor Sleepless, Fell, No hero.
Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead
Mike Mignola, Hellboy: Darkness Calls, Lobest Johnson: The Iron Prometheus
Alan Moore, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier
Grant Morrison, Batman, Final Crisis
Brian K. Vaughan, Ex Machine, Y: The Last Man


The 70s Heroes Return!; Secret Invasion #1
Buffy And Satsu In Bed Together!; Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The Plague Is Revealed!; Y: The Last Man
Kitty Pryde Sacrifices Herself To Save The World!; Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men
The Slaughter Of Woodbury Prison!; The Walking Dead
The X-Men Disband After Professor X Is Shot In The Head By Bishop; X-Men


"Hulk smash!" by the Hulk, The Incredible Hulk
"I believe whatever doesn't kill you makes you stranger" by the Joker, The Dark Knight
"I am Iron Man" by Tony Stark, Iron Man
"I'm not a baby...I'm a tumor" by the Tumor, Hellboy II: The Golden Army
"I will now make this pencil disappear" by the Joker, The Dark Knight
"Why so serious?" by the Joker, The Dark Knight

Sarah Palin’s Awfulness Equals Disney’s

Just how bad is Sarah Palin’s candidacy for vice-president? It’s like a really bad Disney movie. I’ve replayed Matt Damon’s Disney comment a dozen times and I’m still laughing. It comes at about 40 seconds into the video clip.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

“Dancing” Video by Yuval & Merav Nathan

“Dancing” is a goofy music video for the Israeli pop band The Walking Man. The eclectic mix of Hockney-esque photo collage, pixilation and 2D animation is directed by brothers Yuval and Merav Nathan.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

MTV News Confirms "Conan: Red Nails" DTV is Still in Production

A report on MTV News has confirmed that the direct-to-video movie Conan: Red Nails is still in production and may be released in about a year. The movie is based on one of Robert E. Howard's most famous Conan short storyies, but updates on the status of the movie stopped in 2006. According to MTV News, the compositing of CGI and cel-drawn animation sequences took much longer than expected. Swordplay Entertainment executive producer David Schwarcz stated that, "It looks like we’re planning to release it in December ’09."

Briefly: Prada Animated Shorts; DreamVision Starts on "Anna"; Death Note II Events

* Fashion designer Miuccia Prada debuted a new animated short titled "Fallen Shadows" as part of the events of Fashion Week in New York City. The short is also available to view on []

* Florida-based DreamVision Animation has "commenced initial production" on an animated movie musical Anna, based on the book Unshakable by Paula Felps. [CBS Marketwatch]

* VIZ Media and NCM Fathom will be bringing the live-action movie Death Note II: The Last Name to theaters across the country on October 15-16, 2008. The NCM Fathom website has information on participating theaters and ticket purchases. [Press Release]

At Ludicrous Speed Or In Painstaking Slow Motion!! Behold the Orb-Centric Promo For SPACEBALLS: THE ANIMATED SERIES!!

Clone Wars, Schmone Wars!

Why settle for mitichlorians when you can have Schwartz??

Daphne Zuniga reprises Princess Vespa! And Mel Brooks is back as Yogurt and Skroob!

Click here.

5 p.m. Sept. 21. G4.

Brendan Fraser Reflects on J.J. Abrams' Superman Script and Being Offered the Role of The Man of Steel

Our friends over at have snagged an awesome audio interview with Brendan Fraser where they probed his thoughts about the J.J. Abrams' Superman script, and learned how close he got to the part...

AUDIO: Head HERE to Hear!

Here are a few interesting bits in written form...

Ed Gross: Even though it didn't work out in the end, what did it feel like putting on the Superman costume?

Brendan Fraser:
AWESOME! AWWWWWSOME! That was the Man of Steel outfit!

Ed: And when the rumor came out that you were screen testing, I told my wife...

They offered it to me!

Ed: They offered it to you?

They offered it to me and half the dudes in town! That's just the history of the way that role has gone.

Ed: It's so funny, I told my wife at the time I could see Brendan as Superman... He could absolutely pull off Clark Kent and Superman easily. And you must have felt that way too, I would imagine.

I was so enthusiastic to do it, my teeth were sweating. Are you kidding me? This is the Man of Steel! ...and you have to take into account, and in the research I did for it, it seems to me that each actor that played that role came from relative obscurity. The men who played that role were doing radio plays, or soap operas, and THAT role (Superman) became who they were identified as for the rest of their days. And that's a big decision to have to make for an actor.

Ed: But you were so established before that.

It's still a roll of the dice my friend. My crystal ball is broken. You don't know that. And so I had to think about it HARD. And during the time that I was thinking about it, which took me all of 28 minutes, it seems as if then the big monster studio machine and all the machinations behind it, all the cogs and wheels rolling, suddenly it went from an "offer" to "subject to a screen test" blah, blah, blah, "subject to approval" and... But there is one or two really cool things that came out of it. One, there does exist a screen test somewhere, that hopefully will show up sometime, and two, I had sight of the J.J. Abrams script. I read it.

Ed: I think I downloaded it from the Internet at one time, is it good?

In my view, and I say this with respect, it's far superior than Bryan Singer's. J.J. had a vision that was larger. It spanned galaxies. It was Lord of the Rings. I mean, it was that huge. It was like a 3rd World War on Earth involving different planets and universes, and brotherhoods--sibling rivalry and the collision of enormous powers. I mean, come on, it wasn't smacking you over the head with a symbolic hammer till you weren't paying attention. That's how good J.J. is.

For the rest of this interesting interview, head on over to

Is the Green Lantern an Angel?

Look out Common! Angel the Slayer Layer is after ya' ring! (God, that just came out three ways wrong didn't it!?)

David Boreanaz ("Angel", "Bones") is possibly - and I say possibly, because the movie is still in the very, very, very early stages of development, and, well, read on.. - up for the role of 'The Green Lantern'.

Seems Boreanaz and "Sin City" star Carla Gugino were the basis of storyboard artist and illustrator Brian Murray's concept work for the "Green Lantern" movie -Boreanaz as the emerald-coloured lead, Gugino as romantic interest Carol Ferris - drawings he was commissioned by "Green Lantern" co-writer (and potential director) Greg Berlanti to do. You can view the drawings here.

The drawings were presented to Warner Bros as part of Berlanti's pitch - a pitch that resulted in him getting the gig.

Boreanaz, who tested for both Superman (in "Superman Returns") and 'The Thing' in "Fantastic Four", actually voiced the role of The Green Lantern in the animated DVD movie ''Justice League: The New Frontier'', in 2006.

I think Boreanaz has a great look for a superhero - but is he the name the superhero flick requires? We've all seen this year that it really does help to have an A-lister under the mask... and Boreanaz, though well-known for his television work, isn't exactly a major film star; in fact, most of his movies (Bar Jamie Blanks' "Valentine") have gone straight to DVD. Still, it's possible that he may get a look-in - - and again, it's possible his Green Lantern may forever stay in paper-form.

Common was most recently asked to play 'The Green Lantern' - in the recently shelved "Justice League" movie.

Upcoming Character Appearances And Plots For "Wolverine And The X-Men"

Wolverine And The X-Men will be spotlighting an assortment of characters outside of the main cast in upcoming episodes.

Viewers can expect to see characters such as Nightcrawler, Gambit, Psylocke, Bishop, Nick Fury, Forge, and Storm take the spotlight in upcoming episodes of Wolverine And The X-Men, currently airing in North America on the Canadian channel YTV. Wolverine And The X-Men is set for a January 2009 debut, alongside Iron Man: Armored Adventures, on the Nicktoons Network.

Nick Fury will play a prominent rule in an upcoming episode where Wolverine dukes it out with Hulk. Other plots involve Wolverine using a device created by Forge to rescue a mutant and Gambit being assigned to steal that same device. Upcoming episodes will also follow Nightcrawler to Genosha, the X-Men trying to stop Storm from fulfilling a deadly prophecy, and a look into the future with Charles Xavier and his future band of X-Men.

Wolverine and the X-Men currently airs Saturday at 7pm (ET) on the Canadian channel YTV with reruns airing the following Saturday at 12noon (ET). Stay tuned for further updates on this series.

Eva Longoria to be cast in 'The Avengers'?

Here's a bit of 'Avengers' casting buzz that's sure get fans talking. Eva Longoria as Janet Van Dyne, aka The Wasp.

Oh No They Didn't celebrity gossip and paparazzi blog snapped some incriminating photos of the 'Desperate Housewives' star that suggest she may be taking on the part.

Eva Longoria seen leaving the Marvel offices in September, holding a stack of Avengers comics.

In the photos, Longoria is seen in the parking garage of the building where Marvel Entertainment keeps their Hollywood offices. Presumably, Longoria has just met with the filmmakers. Clearly visibile in her hands a stack of Avengers comics.

Now we know the 'Avengers' movie is supposed to include Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor and Ant Man, each of which character is or will be top-lining its own movie before 'Avengers' comes out. But the above roster makes for kind of a sausage party and Ant Man's sugar mama The Wasp has been part of the roll call since issue #1.

So, if Eva was meeting with Marvel and the meeting was about 'The Avengers' then it's pretty easy to imagine Longoria wearing the wings of the winsome Wasp. Her tough-but-pampered 'Housewives' character Gabby isn't too far removed from the long-suffering Wasp after all.

Does this mean she'll be appearing in Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' movie as well?

Click through for high-res photos from the Marvel garage.

Revealing The Octopus in 'The Spirit' chats up Allan Apone, president and CEO 0f Makeup & Effects Laboratories, who handled makeup on 'The Spirit'. Apone talks about visualizing Samuel L. Jackson's character, The Octopus, a Will Eisner creation whose face is never seen in the comics.

"[Director Frank Miller] had the idea for the tear drop tattoos under his eyes. The rest of the makeup is a combination of myself and Sam," Apone said. "When they decided that The Octopus would wear different outfits as 'costumes', Sam said to me that we should have the looks change for each outfit. The tear drops and eyeliner are the one things that stay constant throughout."

Click through for more about the challenges of working with Sam Jackson and a green screen. (Note: English version is at bottom of page).

Anime Today Podcast Interviews NY Anime Fest Organizers

Right Stuf's Anime Today podcast has interviewed Lance Fensterman and Peter Tartara, show manager and programming manager of the 2008 New York Anime Festival. The pair discuss the array of special guests appearing at this year's festival. The entire episode can be obtained from the Anime Today website.

Fall Linkage

... which reaches its peak in ... oh ... mid-October, but we'll try this bunch on now.

At the Emmys, Peter Griffin is edged out by citizens of Colorado:

Fox's "Family Guy" went home empty-handed in the animation category, as Comedy Central's "South Park" collected the prize for hourlong animated series, and Fox's "The Simpsons" won in the absence of "Family Guy" in the half-hour animated category.

But Seth McFarlane has other aces up his sleeve, launches the Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy:

Coming soon to your online ads: interstitial cartoons. And from none other than Seth McFarlane, the brain and 90% of the voices behind Family Guy. His new Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy launched today with the first two shorts out of 50 planned.

Andrew Millstein and Jim Morris, executives with Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, have gotten promoted by the House of Mouse:

The newly created positions represent promotions for the two execs who have overseen the digital direction of Disney Animation and Pixar -- an important role considering the extent to which technology has affected how animated films have been produced over the years.

Millstein and Morris report to Ed Catmull, prexy of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios ...

Then, of course, there is the question that has been on everyone's mind: So like, what happened to that Conan animated direct to video feature?

When it was announced as a direct-to-DVD animated feature, “Conan: Red Nails” sure had a lot going for it. Based on one of the most celebrated original stories by Conan creator Robert E. Howard and featuring design work from legendary fantasy artists Mark Schultz and Mike Kaluta, “Red Nails” staked claim on fanboy perfection when it announced that “Hellboy” actor Ron Perlman would be providing the voice for the headlining barbarian along with backup from stars like Mark Hamill and James Marsden.

Apparently, completion ... which was to combine traditional cell animation with CGI elements, [was harder] to wrap up than originally expected as the film slid past its initial summer 2006 plan of release. Soon after, the Swordplay Entertainment homepage was taken down, and although a site for
“Red Nails” itself still stands, the last update was December of last year ....

I've wept tears of longing over this, but I'm hopeful of the flick being rolled out by its new release date.

Our Neighbor to the North dips its big toe into the bracing pool of stop motion:

With a running time of 79 minutes, Edison & Leo is Canada's first stop-motion animated feature-length film. It took director Burns, ten animators, and the rest of the cast and crew 10 months to shoot it, a huge undertaking he admits.

"It was the first one anyone had tried to do," the Canadian director tells in an interview during the Toronto International Film Festival, where Edison & Leo was premiering.

"From an artistic point of view animation is such an un-dynamic process. You have to record the voices months before you shoot the action, and you're trying to avoid doing any re-shoots because it just takes so long. So it's a big challenge to take this un-dynamic process and end up with a film that feels like it flows and isn't stilted."

Undynamic? Well, he's entitled to his opinion. Maybe.

The Times of London notes an upcoming festival of Japanese artist Osamu Tezeku's wide body of work:

... Tezuka, who studied medicine and became a licensed physician before turning all his energy to art, had an extraordinary breadth of interest. His comics include an adaptation of Crime and Punishment and a Life of Buddha in eight large volumes ...

This week, a festival of Tezuka’s films, coupled with an exhibition of his artwork, will set the record straight. The week-long season at the Barbican in London cannot hope to be comprehensive – throughout his all-too-short life, Tezuka slept only four hours a night, the better to create more than 700 stories, 170,000 pages of manga, dozens of TV series and 17 feature films ...

Variety profiles HBO's first animated since Spawn>

Debuting on Sept. 28, [The Life and Times of Tim] plotlines are rife with one-in-a-million misunderstandings and snafus that leave its eponymous nice-guy protagonist menaced by a disgruntled prostitute and her pimp; pressured into fronting as his employer's new Hispanic VP (he's as white as Wonder Bread); and snookered into lodging a phony rape claim against a homeless "bum."

But the show's very history is a tale of profound unlikelihood. For one thing,
"Tim" marks HBO's first foray into animation since "Spawn" shuffled off its quasi-mortal coil in 1999.

Second, how odd that after nearly a decade away from the cartoon biz, the premium cabler with a rep for being the gold standard of the smallscreen settled on a property that is so crudely drawn, deadpan, and static as to almost defy the term "animated."

And I have no idea where the show is being made.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

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