Wednesday, September 17, 2008

News - 09/17/08...

The State of NY Animated Features

There’s a great ASIFA-East panel coming up this Tuesday, September 22, in New York. It’s billed as a panel discussion on the state of NY animated features with panelists Emily Hubley, Daniel Kanemoto, Bill Plympton, Michael Sporn and Tatia Rosenthal. Every single one of these artists is currently making or has made an animated feature in the past year. Other East Coasters who aren’t on the panel but could be added to this list are Nina Paley and Paul Fierlinger. Never before in the history of animation have so many indie animated features been produced. We’re currently in the middle of an animation revolution and this panel will try to give some perspective to this unique moment in the history of the art form. How are these features being made? Who’s supporting them? Where is all this headed? There’s a lot to talk about. I’m moderating the panel and I’m really looking forward to having this discussion with such an esteemed group of filmmakers. Best of all, admission is FREE. It takes place at the School of Visual Arts (209 East 23rd Street in the 3rd floor Amphitheater).

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Foxworthy Gets Animated for FOX

As FOX continues to seek new animated shows to join its lineup, the network has turned to stand-up comic and former sitcom star Jeff Foxworthy. Daily Variety reports that 20th Century Fox is producing an animated pilot presentation from the comedian and 10 Items or Less exec producers Nancy Hower and John Lehr. Parallel Ent.’s J.P. Williams will also serve as an exec producer.

The untitled comedy will revolve around a dysfunctional family involved in the world of NASCAR auto racing. Foxworthy, host of FOX’s Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, will write and exec produce the show, in addition to voicing one or more characters. His previous voiceover credits include the animated sequel The Fox and the Hound 2 and the live-action/CG adventure Racing Stripes.

With its blue-collar appeal, the Foxworthy project would seem to make a good companion piece or possible replacement for Mike Judge’s long-running animated comedy series King of the Hill. FOX has renewed King for at least one more season, but the show has been in danger of cancellation before. After 13 seasons, the show’s producers may be ready to pack it in soon and focus on new properties.

Judge and King of the Hill exec producers John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky are developing The Goode Family, an animated comedy series that has received a 13-episode order from ABC. The show is being produced by Media Rights Capital, the company behind ABC’s short-lived animated Clerks series and a number of successful independent live-action films.

FOX’s latest animated prospect to go to series is The Cleveland Show, a spin-off of Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy. The sow is being shopped at next month’s MIPCOM television market in Cannes, and is slated to hit the air in the winter of 2009. Other toon series in development include an animated version of FOX’s short-lived, live-action sitcom The Pitts from Simpsons producer Mike Scully; Relative Insanity from actor Jack Black; and Mothballs from Drawn Together creators Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser.

Speed Racer Movie Races to DVD

The Wachowski brothers’ live-action take on the classic anime property Speed Racer debuts on home video today after a less-than-stellar theatrical run. Warner Bros. is hoping the film finds a significant audience on DVD, and is offering an extra Windows Media-compatible digital copy. Also hitting retail today are a special edition release of Disney’s animated sequel 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure, a 50th anniversary collection of Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoons and the first two seasons of the adult-oriented animated series Duckman.

Based on Tatsuo Yoshida’s iconic manga and anime series, Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' Speed Racer features a mix of live-action and CG effects animation as it follows the adventures of young racecar driver Speed (Emile Hirsch) as he strives to drive his famous Mach 5 to victory while tangling with his mysterious arch-rival, Racer X (Matthew Fox). The cast also includes Christina Ricci as Speed’s Girlfriend, Trixie, and John Goodman and Susan Sarandon as Speed's devoted parents. The extensive visual effects work was completed by ILM, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Digital Domain, CIS Hollywood, Rising Sun Pictures, Evil Eye Pictures, BUF, CafeFX, Pacific Title and Lola Visual Effects.

DVD extras include Spritle in the Big Leagues—a tour of the movie set with actor Paulie Litt, and a featurette titled Speed Racer: Supercharged!, which introduces the drivers of the WRL and explores the film’s dynamic racing machines and racetracks. The Blu-ray version also includes a DVD game dubbed Speed Racer Crucible Challenge. The DVD edition carries a suggested retail price of $28.98, while the Blu-ray release can be had for $35.99 or less.

101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure debuted in 2003 and won the award for Best Animated DVD Premiere Movie at the 3rd Annual DVD Exclusive Awards. Directed by Jim Kammerund and Brian Smith, the movie picks up where the first film left off and finds the canine clan and their human "pets," Roger and Anita, preparing for their move to the Dalmatian Plantation. Puppy Patch (Bobby Lockwood), who longs to be one in a million rather than one in 101, gets left behind and decides to go out in search of his TV hero, Thunderbolt (Barry Bostwick). Meanwhile, the ever-plotting Cruella de Vil (Susanne Blakeslee) hooks up with an eccentric artist named Lars (Martin Short) and rekindles her obsession with spotted pelts. Bonus features include a behind-the-scenes documentary, a pair of music videos, a featurette titled Thunderbolt: A Look Inside and the games Patch’s Twilight Adventure and Lost in London. The DVD lists for $19.95.

Alvin & the Chipmunks: The ALVINNN!!! Edition is a two-disc set celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Chipmunks in December. The Paramount release offers fourteen cartoons and lists at $26.99.

Also from Paramount comes Duckman: Seasons One and Two, a three-disc set with 22 episodes of the animated series that first aired during USA’s Up All Night programming block and features the voice of Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander as the title quack-up. Retailing for $49.99, the set includes episode commentary featurettes titled Six Degrees of Duckman, What the Hell Are You Starin At? and Designing Duckman.

Open Season 2 Gets Disc Date

Sony Pictures Animation’s direct-to-video sequel Open Season 2 has been slated to hit retail this winter. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the feature on DVD, Blu-ray and PSP on Jan. 27, complete with deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and an exclusive animated music video set to the tune “Who Let The Dogs Out?” by Baja Men. Kids will also be able to enjoy various interactive carnival games.

Directed by Matt O’Callaghan (Curious George) and Todd Wilderman (Stuart Little 2), Open Season 2 features Talk Soup’s Joel McHale as the voice of mule deer Ellliot, who has fallen head over hooves in love with Giselle (Jane Krakowski). His road to the altar, however, takes a slight detour when Mr. Weenie (Cody Cameron) is kidnapped by a group of pampered pets determined to return him to his owners. Elliot and pals Boog (Omar Epps), McSquizzy (Billy Connolly) and the rest of the woodland creatures launch a full-scale rescue mission and soon find themselves in enemy camp—the world of the pets. Led by a toy poodle named Fifi (Crispin Glover), the pets won’t let Mr. Weenie go without a fight.

The screenplay was written by David I. Stern, based on the characters created by cartoonist Steve Moore and Open Season directors John Carls, Jill Culton, and Anthony Stacchi. The sequel is produced by Kirk Bodyfelt (Open Season) and Matt O’Callaghan. Exec producers are Jill Culton and Michelle Murdocca. The animation was handled by Sony Pictures Imageworks facilities in Culver City, Calif. and Chennai, India, and Reel FX Creative Studios in Dallas, Texas.

DVD bonus features include deleted scenes, a featurette titled Going WILD! With the Voice Cast of Open Season 2, a tutorial on how to draw characters Boog, Elliot and Fifi, deleted scenes, a look at Reilly’s family tree, and the Wacky Weenie Arcade, featuring a frisbee catch game, a magic shell game, a doggie glam-up activity, Boog's Waterslide Maze Craze, a doggie strength test

Blu-ray Disc exclusive bonus features include Save Mr. Weenie!, a zany, Frogger-style BD Live-enabled game in which Boog and Elliot must cross busy streets avoiding hunters, speeding traffic, and innocent pedestrians. The movie will be available for the list price of $28.95 on DVD, $38.96 on Blu-ray and $24.94 on PSP.

Animated Oz Gets Short, Belushi

Martin Short and Jim Belushi have have signed on to lend their voices to Alpine Pictures’ upcoming animated movie Dorothy of Oz. Based on the book children’s author Roger S. Baum, the great-grandson of famed Oz creator L. Frank Baum, the pic is the first in a slated series of animated feature films being produced by Alpine Pictures, in association with Box Office Productions III.

Directed by Daniel St. Pierre (Everyone's Hero, Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey, Sheepish), Dorothy of Oz continues the beloved fantasy tale of a young girl who finds herself in a magical and treacherous kingdom threatened by a wicked witch. Short will voice the role of The Jester and Belushi will give voice to the Cowardly Lion. The movie is being produced by Bonne Radford (Curious George, The Road to El Dorado, Balto).

Emmy and Tony Award winner Short has voiced animated characters in Paramount’s The Spiderwick Chronicles, Disney’s 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure and Treasure Planet, Nickelodeon Movies’ Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, DreamWorks’ The Prince of Egypt, MGM’s The Pebble and the Penguin, Universal’s We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story and The Weinstein Co.’s upcoming Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil.

Belushi, star of the ABC sitcom According to Jim, also has credits in animation, including The Weinstein Co.’s Hoodwinked, Disney’s The Wild, Nickelodeon Movies’ The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and Classic Media’s direct-to-DVD features Casper’s Scare School, among others.

Boomerang Airs Super Friends Marathon

DC Comics’ Justice League superheroes will save the day as episodes from four classic Saturday-morning animated series from the ’70s and early ’80s air back-to-back in Boomerang’s first-ever Super Friends marathon. Cartoon Network’s classic toon outlet will spotlight more than 30 specially selected installments on Saturday, Sept. 27, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET).

The series included in the marathon are The Challenge of the Super Friends (1978), The World’s Greatest Super Friends (1979), Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984) and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985). Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Apache Chief, Hawkman, Black Vulcan and other caped crusaders face down such Legion of Doom villains as Lex Luthor, The Riddler, Brainiac, Black Manta, Toyman, Giganta, Cheeta, Captain Cold, Scarecrow and Grodd the Gorilla in these spin-offs of the original 1973 Super Friends.

The Super Friends have returned on Cartoon Network this decade with various popular series including Justice League, Justice League Unlimited and Legion of Super Heroes. The DC Universe line of direct-to-video animated features recently unleashed Justice League: The New Frontier, an adaptation of the award-winning graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke, and Happy Feet director George Miller has been trying to get a live-action Justice League movie off the ground for some time now. The effort was stalled in part by last year’s writer’s strike.

LA Times Talks with Eric Powell on "The Goon" Movie Adaptation

The Los Angeles Times Hero Complex weblog has interviewed comic creator Eric Powell, focusing on the upcoming CGI animated adaptation of his Dark Horse comic book The Goon. Powell discusses how the adaptation came about, why he thinks The Goon could only work in animation, his involvement in the art direction and designs of the movie, and what the storyline of the movie will be. The movie will be produced by Blur Studios and directed by David Fincher.

"The Grimpley Brothers" Film Assembles International Team

Variety Asia is reporting that Singapore's Sparky Animation has signed a deal with Los Angeles-based PorchLight Entertainment and Edinburgh-based Grimply Films for The Grimpley Brothers, a CGI-animated family comedy scheduled to begin full production in early 2009. The script is by Philip Lazebnik (Prince of Egypt, Mulan, Pocahontas), and Tom Ruegger (Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain) and Scott Jeralds (Krypto the Superdog) are also part of the movie crew.

The Grimpley Brothers will center on the relationship between two storytelling brothers, spanning their fraternal affection and sibling rivalry.

Matthew McConaughey won't be 'Captain America' (but likes the name)

Fans didn't really believe talk that Matthew McConaughey was a contender to play 'Captain America' on screen, but MTV Splash Page asked the actor about it anyhow, and his response was too funny not to repeat.

When told he was rumored for the part the actor responded, "I was?"

He then admitted he "wasn't a big comic book reader, but that's a super cool name — Captain America."

The actor and some-time bongo musician is, however, schooled in the 'Incredible Hulk' TV series.

"My favorite one growing up has already been done twice and that was The Incredible Hulk," said McConaughey, "Lou Ferrigno would come on, and it was an hour show, [so] you knew he was gonna turn green [and] get big, two times in that hour," said McConaughey. "So at 7:22 you knew he'd do it, and at 7:39 you knew he'd do it — so if you were going to go make a milkshake or something, you better be back by 7:22 or 7:39, 'cause he was about to turn green."

Spidey sequels to lens next year. $50m for Tobey.

An article in UK's Times Online delves into the details of Tobey Maguire's deal to return for back-to-back 'Spider-Man' sequels. According to the report the actor stands to bank $50 million to film parts 4 and 5 of the franchise.

The article actually states that the $50 million figure is part salary and part profit sharing. 'Spider-Man 3' proved that the movies don't have to be good to make money, so Tobey is likely to rake in the full amount on the two films.

However, key to the deal was the allocation of "family time" to Maguire, who has a young daughter. Word is that shooting back-to-back films is a grueling process that takes its toll on the leading man . Keanu Reeves is cited in the article as being drained by the 'Matrix' movies.

The 'Spider Man 4 and 5' shoot is set for a six month period in 2009. Tobey will have "early mornings and evenings" off, according to the report.

The article also suggests that the Kirsten Dunst question will be settled this week.

Edward Norton on Hulk's Future

The Incredible Hulk star Edward Norton tells MTV he is uncertain about the green fella's future.

"The minds of Marvel are sometimes opaque," Norton said. "I won't say [they're] obtuse, but I don't have any idea what they want to do."

He added he was not sure if he would be asked back for Marvel Studios' planned team-up project, The Avengers, scheduled for a July 2011 release.

"They've got this notion of collecting the Marvel characters," Norton said. "Who knows where they'll go?"

Universal Studios Hollywood Offers The Wolfman First Look

A rare and exclusive first look at Universal Pictures' highly anticipated re-imagining of the genre classic, The Wolfman, will debut at Universal Studios Hollywood's "Halloween Horror Nights" as part of the theme park's unique "Terror Tram."

The "Terror Tram: The Nightmare Tour" -- which expands this year to double the length of previous Halloween tram experiences -- will offer an exclusive preview of The Wolfman on the tram's LED screens.

"The Terror Tram" experience will take guests off the familiar studio tram and lead them on foot past such infamous landmarks as the Bates Motel and Psycho House and into remote and menacing locations of Universal's legendary backlot. For the first time ever, the "Terror Tram" will also incorporate a series of spine-chilling mazes as part of the trek through the timeless sets from Psycho, and the tortured landscape of War of the Worlds set into an unforgettable experience that will raise the bar of terror to a level that only an authentic Hollywood studio can equal.

Issuing a dare to "Live Your Worst Nightmare," Universal Studios Hollywood has ratcheted up the intensity level to present a new "Halloween Horror Nights" for 2008. This year's event will pair Hollywood's top entertainment scenic and special effects artists with a cast of thousands to create terrifying new experiences including a bloodcurdling new Nightmare on Elm Street maze, all contributing to Southern California's most intense Halloween experience.

"Halloween Horror Nights" begins on Friday, October 3 and will extend over an expanded 13-night run concluding Saturday, November 1. Tickets to "Halloween Horror Nights" are on sale now at

Halloween Horror Nights" will continue on consecutive weekends beginning on Friday, October 3 through Saturday, November 1. Event dates are: October 3-4, 10-11, 17-19, 24-26, 30-31 and November 1. The event will begin nightly at 7:00 p.m.; closing hours vary by night throughout the event.

Inspired by the classic Universal film that launched a legacy of horror, Universal Pictures, The Wolfman brings the myth of a cursed man back to its iconic origins. Oscar® winner Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father (Oscar® winner Anthony Hopkins), Talbot sets out to find his brother ... and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself. The Wolfman opens nationwide on April 3, 2009.

Tom Cruise Wrecks Shrek Rumors

Sorry to disappoint you Shrek fans, but Tom Cruise won't be heading to the swamp for the next go-round in the green-guy franchise.

Despite a flurry of stories on the Web over the past two weeks, Cruise is not—repeat, not—a candidate to voice the villain in Shrek Goes Fourth for DreamWorks Animation.

"As of today, there is no truth to the Tom Cruise-Shrek 4 rumor," rep Jeff Raymond tells E! News without further explanation.

The ogre rumors went into overdrive after first surfacing Sept. 4 on the movie blog, which claimed to have received an email from an unnamed studio insider stating Cruise was being considered for the role.

That report took off in the blogosphere, eventually getting picked up in mainstream publications, including one of the Los Angeles Times blogs, which gave it even more traction.

And voilà, Cruise's camp stepped up to debunk the Shrek story.

DreamWorks declined to comment.

As for Shrek Goes Fourth, the film will feature the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy. It's currently in the early production stages and expected to hit theaters in 2010.

Kung Fu Panda 2 Out In November?

Auxiliary substantiation that DVD sequels are a bigger business than slave trading these days, Paramount have just announced a "Kung Fu Panda" sequel that'll premiere only at video stores.

Paramount Pictures is bundling its upcoming home video release of "Kung Fu Panda" with a direct-to-video companion film and will release the package on a Sunday -- November 9 -- instead of the traditional Tuesday.

Most of the major studios are actively producing direct-to-video sequels to major theatrical hits, but never before has one come out on home video the same day as the original, says Reuters.

The companion film, "Secrets of the Furious Five," is slugged, "The 'Kung Fu Panda' story continues." The film delves into the backstories of the "Kung Fu Panda" characters, with all-new animation and Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman reprising their respective voice roles as Po and Master Shifu.

New 'Dragonball' photos

Our friends at Fox have just laid seven new publicity stills from the upcoming 'Dragonball' on us. Click and view!

Eriko is Piccolo's henchwoman Mai

Goku (Justin Chatwin) and Bulma (Emmy Rossum)

Master Roshi (Chow Yun Fat) and Goku (Justin Chatwin) get ready for action

Justin Chatwin is Goku in Dragonball

Bulma (Emmy Rossum) gets the drop on Goku (Justin Chatwin)

Justin Chatwin as Goku with one of the mythic Dragonballs

Chow Yun Fat is Master Roshi

How Good is Bolt?

I've heard fine things from Disney staff regarding Bolt.

"The story is better than the last few, I'm happy about it" ... "The animation looks good, and I like the look" ... "The animation is solid" ...

Often the staff is right, and occasionally wrong. I always listen to what the creators are saying, but sometimes they're wrong ... which is totally understandable. When you're down working among the trees, it can be hard to see what the whole forest looks like.

Now Todd Gilchrist of """>has seen a sizable chunk of the flick, and apparently likes what he sees:

Bolt looks like it will be a fun adventure and a lively tale of friendship. The "episode" footage will likely register most strongly with readers of IGN thanks to the admitted influence of filmmakers like Michael Bay on its direction: the action itself is terrific, featuring Bolt and Penny as they deftly escape their pursuers, while Williams and Howard amped up the colors and cinematic tricks (slow-motion, "multiple" cameras) to create a show that, quite frankly, we'd actually like to watch. The quieter scene, on the other hand, is no less interesting, just less full of action, and animator Mark Walton's voice work on Rhino give the scene its alternate notes of humor and sincere emotion ...

... what was most interesting about Disney's approach to
Bolt was the "painterly" aspect of the visuals and the way in which they have with the film tried to return the animated form to something that looks more hand-drawn than mathematically produced. American artist Edward Hopper was referenced multiple times as the inspiration for the film's cross-country backdrop, and a handful of isolates shots that were shown indicated that even within the computer, the artists working on the film could create images that actually showed brush strokes and imperfect edges – namely, all of the little details that made classic Disney films so distinctive and relatable.

Is Bolt any good? Will it connect with audiences? This is is the Pixar team's first time* at the plate with a Disney Animation release, so it'll be interesting to see.

* Hey, what about Meet the Robinsons? Welll .... it had well over half the work done when Ed Catmull and John Lasseter winged down from Pixar, therefore we won't count it.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

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