Monday, September 22, 2008

News - 09/22/08...

Zemeckis, Kenan Fly with Airman

The Monster House team of producer Robert Zemeckis and director Gil Kenan are joining forces to create another performance-capture feature film aimed at family audiences. The Hollywood Reporter brings word that the two have mounted a big-screen adaptation of the children’s book Airman by Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series and Half Moon Investigations. Kenan will again direct and Zemeckis will produce with his ImageMovers partners, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey.

Released in January, the Airman book tells the tale of Conor Broekhart, a young man who was was born in a hot air balloon and earned the admiration of his king by saving the princess from a fire. When his tutor and king are both killed in a plot to take over the government, he is blamed for their deaths and spends the next two years in prison. While incarcerated, he spends his time drawing plans for flying machines and is ultimately liberated by a balloon. He must then decide if he should abandon those who turned their back on him, or return to the kingdom to fight the evil forces at work.

Kenan made his feature directorial debut with Monster House, which went on to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film in 2007. Exec produced by Steven Spielberg, the pic was released in stereoscopic 3D in specially equipped theaters. Kenan has since helmed a live-action adaptation of Jeanne Duprau’s popular young adult fantasy novel City of Ember for Playtone and Walden Media and will be released in theaters on October 10. That film stars Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Martin Landau, Mary K. Place and Toby Jones.

Disney Sends The Rock to Tomorrowland

The success of the Pirates of the Caribbean films has reportedly inspired Disney to make another feature film based on one of its theme park rides. Daily Variety claims that the studio has signed wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to star in a space pic inspired by the Tomorrowland attraction.

Disney apparently denies that the film is related to the area of Disneyland that houses Space Mountain and other futuristic attractions. The Mouse House asserts that the script, being written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, is an original idea. Lucas and Moore wrote New Line’s upcoming Matthew McConaughey/Jennifer Garner vehicle The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and a Warner Bros. comedy titled The Hangover for director Todd Philips.

Whatever the film turns out to be, it will be produced by Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray through their Mayhem Pictures. The duo produced the Disney hit comedy The Game Plan, which also starred Johnson. The actor also stars in Disney’s upcoming fantasy pic Race to Witch Mountain, a continuation of a series of films that began in the 1970s.

Mighty B! will Buzz Again

Nickelodeon has renewed the hit animated series The Mighty B! for another season. The network has ordered 20 new half-hour episodes of the comedy created by Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live, Horton Hears a Who!, Shrek the Third, Baby Mama) and Nick animation vets Cynthia True and Erik Wiese. Poehler, who provides the voice of series star Bessie Higgenbotton, will continue to serve as exec producer with True and Wiese. Andy Richter also be back as Bessie’s brother, Ben.

Bessie Higgenbottom is the world's most ambitious and loveably unhinged member of the Honeybee troop for girls. She wears her uniform every single day, and has earned more badges then any other Honeybee in history. Her adventures often include her ever-loyal younger brother Benjamin, her very opinionated and somewhat reluctant dog Happy (Dee Bradley Baker), her imaginary friend Finger and Rocky Rhodes (Kenan Thompson) and the cool, older skater kid who works part-time at the counter at Bessie's mother's cafe.

The Mighty B!, has become a break-out hit for Nickelodeon, complementing and strengthening our powerhouse Saturday morning line-up,” says Brown Johnson, president of animation for Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. “Fans can look forward to more of Bessie's dare-to-be-different attitude this season as she chases new badges and comes closer to her dream of becoming The Mighty B.”

The Mighty B! airs Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon. Since its debut, the show has attracted an average 3.1 million total viewers. In the second quarter of 2008, the series ranked among the top five animated properties on all of television: third among kids 2-11 and second among kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14. The series is produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif.

Poehler is currently in her eighth season of Saturday Night Live, and has been the co-anchor of the show’s popular Weekend Update segment going on five seasons. She will star in a new NBC comedy from King of the Hill co-creator Greg Daniels and Mike Schur, and is launching a digital TV program for kids titled Smart Girls at the Party. Poehler and her husband, actor Will Arnett (Blades of Glory, Arrested Development) are expecting their first baby in October.

Promo for Don Hahn’s Alchemy of Animation Online

A promotional trailer for prolific Disney producer Don Hahn’s upcoming book, The Alchemy of Animation, has been posted on YouTube. The video features Hahn talking about the book, and offers some great images from various films Hahn has worked on. The book will hit shelves on Oct. 7.

Don Hahn has produced such Mouse House favorites as
Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. His first book in nearly seven years, The Alchemy of Animation is geared to a slightly older audience than his acclaimed Animation Magic, affording readers a comprehensive look at the process of making animation at Disney in the modern age.

The Alchemy of Animation
will feature never-before-seen art from Disney and Pixar films through the ages, including a few sneak peeks at art from upcoming projects such as Bolt and The Princess and the Frog. Readers will get an overview of the animation process across three mediums—hand-drawn, stop-motion and computer-generated(CG)—as executed in such Disney classics as Dumbo, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Toy Story, among others.

Hahn has been producing at The Walt Disney Studios for more than 30 years. His other films include
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and the 2006 short The Little Matchgirl
, which earned him his second Oscar nomination. He is currently developing the stop-motion animated feature Frankenweenie with director Tim Burton, and directing and producing several documentary projects.

Rah Rah!, Gaston, Pok Please at Cartoon Forum

Reporting from Cartoon Forum 2008 which is held at the German city of Ludwigsburg, Animation Magazine president Jean Thoren tells us about some of the new European animated properties making waves at the annual event. Here’s what she has to say about three of the standouts:

MacKinnon & Saunders Production brings us another winner with their very popular Rah Rah! Created by Curtis Jobling and developed by the award-winning team best known for Frankenstein’s Cat, Rah Rah! brings together CCI’s Arnie Zipursky and producers Jackie Edwards and Chris Bowden. The preschool show for kids 2-4 charmed the Cartoon audience with its fresh, simple design and unique, noisy concept. The series of 57 seven-minute episodes will be accompanied by an interactive website, and is sure to win many broadcasters’ votes of approval. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, The PeriWig-Maker, Little Robots, Bob the Builder and The Sandman are some of MacKinnon & Saunders' other popular projects.

Gaston is an animated series developed by Andre Franquin, and directed by Alexis Lavillat, based on the well-loved French comic book. Producer Olivier Nomen of Normaal Animation notes, “The problem of putting a voice to a mythic character such as Gaston Lagaffe was daunting. Gaston is one of the few big comic book characters that has not had a film made about him." Author Franquin, who is also famous for Marsupilami, created the Gaston comic in 1957 for the magazine Spirou. He is very lazy, totally carefree character is representative of a stereotypical 1970s hippie rebel and the production team has decided to stay true to that period. In his presentation, Olivier remarked, “Gaston appeals to all ages, he loves all animals and often brings them to the office, inciting chaos and many episodes of crazy antics and resultant mishaps. Our hero is a very talented inventor of gadgets, but his colleagues call his inventions gaffs." The project is being developed with France 3, Marsu Prods. and Normaal. With 30 million books sold to date, we're sure this bestselling French comic will appeal to audiences of all ages worldwide.

Produced by Alphanim and Vivement Lundi!, Pok & Mok employs a very new and appealing style to present environmental messages through the adventures of a boy named Mok and his constant companion, Mok, along with their extended family. Pok is a gibbon who can bend and stretch like any true cartoony character. He is a trouble maker and not-so-honest game player who makes excuses for his faux pas but makes up for them using all available means to be environmentally friendly. Mok is a child who bends the rules and does not always consider the consequences of his actions, especially those that affect the environment. Ernest, Mok’s dad, is obsessed with cleanliness and is somewhat childlike and immature. His mom, in contrast, is very calm, cool and collected. The grandpa practices intensive farming and tries to cook Pok because he believes animals are for eating. All in all, these characters are endearing and we think this series brings the message of environmental friendiness to the audience without the usual preachiness.

RBC Blue Water Project by Convert and Jon Klassen

This excellent spot for the Royal Bank of Canada’s Blue Water Project is among those rare pieces of design-oriented animation in which an equal amount of thought is given to the movement of the artwork as to its production design. There’s only one cut in the entire commercial; the scenes flow smoothly into one another in a way that drives home the commercial’s subject matter—water. The spot is directed by Convert for The Ebeling Group and designed by Jon Klassen, who has posted his illustration designs for the commercial on his blog. Klassen also co-directed a fine student film at Sheridan a few years ago called An Eye For Annai.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Shadows Of The Dark Knight: The History of Batman - Part 3 of 3

This is the final part in a 3 part series covering the history of Batman. You can read part one here and part two here.

1995 saw Joel Schumacher take the directing reins with Batman Forever. Recasting Batman, with the younger and more athletic Val Kilmer - this version of Batman was more child-friendly and commercial, right down to Jim Carrey’s casting as The Riddler. An introduction of Robin also helped to lighten the character and Tommy Lee Jone’s Two-Face was a half-lightened version of his comic character. Financially more successful than Batman Returns, it appeared Schumacher’s neon lit Gotham City was what enthusiasts of the franchise desired.

Then he delivered Batman and Robin.

With Kilmer filming The Saint (much to Schumacher’s annoyance) George Clooney was brought on board for a third incarnation of Batman. Batman was now once again a guest star, this time in his own movie, due to the influx of villains such as Bat-Girl, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr Freeze and Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy. Effectively a plot-point-by-plot-point reworking of Batman Forever, Batman and Robin returned Batman to the camp caped-crusader of the 1960’s television series. The film was critically mauled and the low box office led to the franchise being left dormant.

However, that is not to say that Warner were in complete despair about the franchise. Wolfgang Peterson had a Superman VS Batman script in development and Requiem For A Dream helmer, Darren Aronsosky, even tackled a Batman origin story. It was Christopher Nolan’s take, along with David Goyer that was the first project to appear like a success. Casting fan favorite Christian Bale as Batman, Nolan decided on a much more pragmatic take, transporting the Dark Knight to the real world.

Hauling characters such as Ra's Al Ghoul and The Scarecrow into the narrative enhanced the psychological ante of the film and Nolan was able to display a diverse side to Batman and for the first time, gave the hero centre stage in his own film. The critical and commercial success of Batman Begins led to Nolan having creative control over the follow up, though unlike Burton and Schumacher, this would not be his undoing.

The Dark Knight, now free from the shackles of an origin story, is the Batman film that fans have been waiting for. Delivering a Joker that harkens back not only tonally to that of Frank Miller and Alan Moore, but also to that of Denny O’Neil from the 1970’s, it displays a character of malicious immorality, (not the giddy clown, Prince of Crime, associated with the 60’s series.)

The comics were able to illustrate that the Joker and Batman demand co-existence, and until now, no form of moving image was ever able to truly capture this. Heath Ledger’s Joker lacks an origin story and rightly so. At a time when Hollywood is trying to demystify its villains it is delightful to observe a character that goes against the grain. After all that is what the Joker does. Ledger’s Joker is winning shining reviews and also murmurs of an Oscar nomination. Whilst it is a tremendous performance, I feel that many have over looked Aaron Ekhart’s charismatic portrayal of Harvey Dent; no-one before had shown the complexities of the character who started out as an ally of Batman only to become one of his adversaries.

Nolan’s recent film expands on the Batman mythos, while also delivering a film that is faithful to the comic book. Where the franchise goes from here is anybody’s guess. It sets up a sequel flawlessly and again it should demonstrate Batman as a tortured soul who does what he does, not because he wants to, but because he has to.

Batman and his enemies exist in a strange world, and in effect, Batman is as insane as the villains that he is fighting. He is caught in a battle night after night to exorcise his own inner demons, with his sanity (his true mask) positioned on the surface. However, Batman and the Joker are a necessity for each other, more than any other hero-villain combination in comic books. It is a battle that has been in existence for the last 70 years and it will persist long after we are gone.

Animated Shorts: The Voices of the Next Avengers, 2

Click here for part one.

There’s a story Tom Kane relishes telling when it comes to how he got the part of Tony Stark/Iron Man in Next Avengers.

“I don’t live in Los Angeles anymore,” says Kane. “I now do most of my auditions via email. So when Marvel asked me I just did my best interpretation, sent it and then after a month forgot about it. Then they called me and told me I had the part.

“By that time, I thought I had only auditioned for Ultron. What surprised me was they demanded that I had to fly into LA to do the session. I thought that was silly. Ultron only has about 12 lines. Why should I fly in to do that? I almost just told them to forget it. So I came on out. I figured I could catch up with some old friends anyway. When I get to the studio, they start giving me this long story about what happened to Tony Stark and Iron Man. Now I have my script turned to Ultron’s first line, so I’m asking why are they telling me all this stuff?

“That’s when Gary and Craig said let’s get going and I read my first line as Ultron. Then from the booth comes ‘We’ll get to Ultron later. Let’s do Tony Stark first. We want to get the Stark stuff out of the way.’

“That’s when I realized I was doing Iron Man,
” Kane concluded. “I couldn’t help but say ‘Oh! I’m the star of the movie!’ So that was an unexpected treat, but I still had to tap dance right on the spot.”

As it happens, doing Stark is a natural for Kane. The reason for that is simple if you ever heard his natural voice.

“It was an easy part as this is the first time I did it in my own voice,” says Kane. “They wanted me to do Iron Man, but with an added perspective of it being from a father’s perspective. In the past he’d always been Tony Stark playboy millionaire or playing with all his inner demons. Of course, he’s also been Iron Man, who kicks butt and takes names; Just add a vocoder or something like that. That’s the main voices of the character. The sad part is I have about a million kids of my own, and I know what it’s like to be a father. If it wasn’t for the tap dance I would have called it one of my easiest jobs ever.

“That’s unusual,” says Kane. “It’s about the only time that it’s just me talking. The next closest is when I did Professor Utonium for PowerPuff Girls, but that also was just me doing Gary Owens. It’s still slightly exaggerated. For voice over guys, that’s not too common. Then again, I was Him, too. Not that there aren’t difficulties. At times I had to not only play worried father, but also angry inventor or angst-ridden for having all of his friends killed. That could switch from line to line.”

Even though Next Avengers was Petriw’s first voice over job, the admitted comic book fan found the job not too difficult, even if he wasn’t supposed to know he was playing Hawkeye. As he stated in last Tuesday’s article, the only reason he had a clue was due to a slip. That also didn’t mean he know he was playing a new Hawkeye, the son of the previous one.

“I didn’t find out until I got to the audition,” said Petriw. “They showed me when they showed me some sketches and the script. At first, I went ‘Hmmm...this is kind of interesting.’ I guess I had the same reaction a lot of other Marvel fans had when they heard of the project. Then when I started reading the script, I was really blown away. I felt this new version of Hawkeye adds to the whole Marvel mythology. He does have a lot of the classic Hawkeye in him.”

“In the comics, the Hulk can be really super dark,” Fred Tatasciore says about his role. “He sometimes can be as manipulative as Hannibal Lechter. He’s not really a good guy. He’s more inbetween, a wild card. Calling on him is like using a volcano or cyclone on to solve your problem. There’s a possibility we’re going to get hurt doing it. Yet he also has the instinct to help. What you really have to remember is this Hulk is like a child and he wants to be left alone. He doesn’t mean anyone any specific harm. Also, the people who provoke him are just as likely to get smashed as those who are really the villains.

“In Next Avengers, both Hulk and Banner know he’s a problem. Another thing is when we first meet him, he thinks everyone’s dead. So he quarantines himself. He’s not sure if he did some of it himself. I think he’s a little worried about that possibility. So both Bruce Banner and the Hulk are slightly loony. This makes him a bit more of maniac, too. The only time we see the Hulk change from this is because of Betty. Betty is his salvation, not only because he loves her, but because she’s the only one who truly sees the human inside the Hulk.”

That isn’t all Tatasciore did with this DVD either.

“I made him a little more aggressive,” he said.. “I also made him a little more tired. He’s really had enough of this. When he gets into it, you can see him groan just a little bit more. There are been times when I thought I was going to pass out. I have to be really careful with my voice or I’ll blow it out. At the same time, you do have to sound like you’re the strongest guy there. The Hulk really takes that to heart.”

In the meantime, all the actors are busy on new projects. Petriw is back to live action, with a role in the upcoming film Run Rabbit Run due later this year.

As for Tatasciore? The man is super busy. For starters, he’s just wrapping up work on the Hulk vs. D2D where he’s working alongside another big name, Steve Blum.

Hulk v. Wolverine is a real beat’emup,” says Tatasciore. “At the same time, it’s almost a buddy movie. One of my favorite things about it is Wolverine trying to get my ire up, and I’m knocking out everybody in my way.

“Also, Steve Blum is so brilliant as Wolverine,” at this moment, Tatasciore does a great imitation of Blum’s ‘honey and gravel’ voice. “’Atta boy buddy! Break it up!...Oh crap!’ Steve and I work together all the time. It’s really fun because I see what he does, he sees what I do. Even in the booth we have these mock battles. He’s not only one of my greatest friends, but his talent is just tremendous. Now while Hulk v. Wolverine is the smash’em-up, there’s also a lot of comedy thanks to Noah North, who plays Deadpool. He’s just funny as hell. It’s also much more a traditional Hulk fight movie.”

While he’s at it, Tatasciore also drops some clues about the other half of Hulk v., that of Hulk versus Thor.

“Now with Hulk v. Thor that’s much more a fantasy. Without giving away too much of the story, Hulk is being manipulated by someone we all know quite well. You know who. Everyone familiar with Marvel knows who. So Hulk ends up being just a machine of destruction. Of course, he will eventually get himself free. So I played him more like your traditional monster, like Boris Karloff. It’s also a lot of fun.”

That isn’t all we’re hearing of the big man either. In fact, it’s barely the tip of the iceberg.

“We got the upcoming Wolverine and the X-Men show,” Tatasciore counts down, “where I’m the Beast as well as Hulk, when he comes up. It’s great doing Beast because he’s the opposite of Hulk. He’s want I want to be, but I’m really the Hulk. I’m also doing a bunch of stuff for Nickelodeon, like Barnyard, where I play the Farmer. There’s also a new show called Planet Sheen coming out, which is a spin-off of Jimmy Neutron. I’ll be the king of that planet, a very loquacious kind of fellow. Also doing Secret Saturdays, where I’m the kimodo dragon, the pterodactyl and the henchmen to the main villain, Argost. There are a lot of different things coming up. I’ll also be in the new Cleveland Show.”

As for Kane? He’s getting ready for a number of awards ceremonies, where’s he is usually is the announcer. He’s also one of those rare people who does the voice tracks for film trailers. If that isn’t enough, he’s the voice of Yoda in the upcoming Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Magneto on Wolverine and the X-Men.

Still, there’s one project Kane would like to see continued, and that is Next Avengers.

“I saw it at Comic Con,” says Kane. “I can tell you without any reservation it is amazing, regardless of my connection to it. I can’t remember when I watched a cartoon that was ostensibly for young kids that left me with a lump in my throat. And it wasn’t just me.

“So you understand, when they did the showing, it was at 10:00 p.m. So the majority of the people there weren’t children. They were mature adults. Nobody moved for 90 minutes. Nobody was whispering to each other. Nobody got up and walked out. It was absolutely rock silence. Then in the end it got a standing O! That’s a great production to me.

“It’s a perfect set-up for a weekly series,” says Kane. “The next generation of Avengers have stepped into their parents’ suits. It’s ready to go.”

From the sounds of it, Tatasciore, Petriw and Kane are more than ready to go with it.

Alan Moore set to spit venom on 'Watchmen'

The L.A. Times Hero Complex blog has a nice interview with Alan Moore up in which he confesses his deep, abiding love for the phenomena of films made from comics, and specifically the adaptation of his masterpiece 'Watchmen'.

Just kidding.

No, in fact Moore continues to point out what's wrong with the system including having a chuckle over the recently emerging Warner Bros. Vs. Fox feud over the movie.

"Will the film even be coming out? There are these legal problems now, which I find wonderfully ironic. Perhaps it's been cursed from afar, from England. And I can tell you that I will also be spitting venom all over it for months to come."

Stars Dig into Sony’s Meatballs

Sony Pictures Animation has announced the voice cast for its next CG-animated feature film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The adaptation of the well-known children’s book will feature the voices of Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live), Anna Faris (The House Bunny), James Caan (The Godfather), Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live), Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead trilogy), Mr. T (Rocky III) and Tracy Morgan (30 Rock). The movie will be released in stereoscopic 3D on January 15, 2010.

Written and directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord, Cloudy is based on author Judi Barrett’s and illustrator Ron Barrett’s book about a land where food begins raining down from the skies. Hader, who has appeared in the films Superbad and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, will voice Flint Lockwood, a young inventor who dreams of creating something that will improve everyone's life. Caan will be Tim Lockwood, Flint's technophobic father, and Faris takes on the role of Sam Sparks, a weathergirl covering the phenomenon. Samberg, who recently voiced a lead role in the Vanguard Animation/Starz Media CG toon Space Chimps, will play Brent, the town bully who has plagued Flint since childhood, while Campbell takes on the role of Mayor Shelbourne, who figures out that Flint's invention can put the town, and himself, on the map. Mr. T is by-the-rules town cop Earl Devereaux, and Tracy Morgan is Earl's rule-breaking son, Cal.

Pam Marsden is producing the pic for Sony Pictures Animation. The film follows on the heels of Surf's Up, which was nominated for last year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and picked up two Annie Awards. Sony Animation made its debut with the animal tale Open Season, which did well at the box office and was Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s second best-selling title in 2007.

Mouse’s Tale Captures Cartoon D’Or at Euro Forum

Those talented French animation students have done it again. Benjamin Renner, a graduate of France’s LA Poudriere, has taken home Cartoon Forum’s Cartoon D’Or Award for his graduation project, A Mouse’s Tale (La Queue de La Souris).

The 18th edition of the Cartoon d'Or is the only European prize specific to animated short films. The other finalists were: Vincent Bierrewaerts for The Bridge (Le Pont), Belgium/France; Arnaud Demuynck for Breakout (L'’evasion), Belgium; Pierre-Luc Granjon for The White Wolf (Le Loup Blanc), France; and Matthew Walker for John and Karen, U.K.

Renner's four-minute short uses drawings and cut-out animaton to tell the story of a lion who captures a mouse and is about to devour it when the mouse proposes a deal. Renner made the film while he was attending La Poudriere, an animation film-directing school in France, where he directed several shorts. The 24-year-old is now working at France's Les Armateurs studio, where he is lead animator on the upcoming movie Ernest and Celestine.

“I wanted to tell a short, simple story, a tale about a lion and a mouse, an encounter between a tiny harmless creature and an enormous one," he says. "It was important in the film that the setting helped to transform the viewers into a little mouse, to throw them into a dark and strange forest, a large black mass, a world where appearances are deceiving, where by simply adding an eye to a mountain it becomes an terrifying lion. By using silhouette animation, I had a large degree of freedom for the setting. I was not constrained by technical difficulties and was able to concentrate on the story. Finally, what was most important for me was to be able to tell a fable like the ones I heard as a child and which have stayed in my mind without me really knowing why.”

Since A Mouse's Tail has now won a major festival award, it will be eligible for the 2008 Animated Short Academy Award race in the U.S. Also up for Oscar recognition is Octopodi by Gobelins students Julien Bocabeille, François-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, Thierry Marchand, Quentin Marmier and Emud Mokhberi. Their short took home the Audience and Best of Show prizes at SIGGRAPH in August.

The Cartoon d'Or 2008 jury was composed of directors Enzo D'Alo from Italy, Raul Garcia from Spain and Michael Coldewey from Germany. Cartoon D’Or is part of the annual Cartoon Forum event, which was held at Ludwisgsburg this week. For further information, visit

Little Airplane on Feature Flight Plan

Having found success on the small screen with the popular animated preschool series The Wonder Pets!, New York-based toon studio Little Airplane is reportedly looking to take on the big screen. According to Daily Variety, the company is expanding into feature films.

Three pics in development include one completely animated project, one live-action film, and one that combines the two. The movies will be produced under the Little Airplane Films banner, lead by head of production Tom Brown. Brown is one of about 70 core employees housed in a converted 200-year-old granary in South Street Seaport. The company also produces 3rd & Bird, a new animated preschool series that airs during preschool programming block CBeebies in the U.K. Other credits for the cartoon shop include Noggin's Oobi and Disney Channel’s Go Baby.

Little Airplane became the subject of some negative attention recently when the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM, filed unfair labor charges against the company. However, the issue was quickly resolved and the musicians are back to work on more episodes of the operatic Wonder Pets!

Jim Henson Co. Debuts Dinosaur, Skrumps at MIPCOM

The Jim Henson Co. will debut two all-new CG-animated series at next month’s MIPCOM in Cannes. In addition to expanding its web property The Skrumps for television, the company will introduce Dinosaur Train. Aimed at kids 3-6, the series of 52 11-minute episodes is being developed for PBS Kids.

Dinosaur Train involves around a colorful steam engine that carries all kinds of dinosaurs to the many prehistoric eras. The installments will revolve around Buddy, a preschool-age Tyrannosaurus Rex. Rescued and hatched by a female Pteranodon, Buddy soon realizes that he looks quite different from his siblings. In response to Buddy’s enthusiasm to learn more about himself and other dinosaurs, his mom takes the family on adventures on the Dinosaur Train. Kids will get on board to meet all kinds of dinosaurs and learn new fascinating facts about these incredible creatures.

The Hensons will also be seeking pre-sales for The Skrumps, a comedy based on characters created by artist John Chandler and made popular by his line of collectible figures and illustrated storybooks. The Skrumps are a uniquely colorful troupe of Skrumpland residents who play in a rock band called Grumble Belly. The characters are animated in real time using the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio. Several short video peices, including a music video and some character vlogs, were initially produced and distributed on Yahoo Kids! in January of 2007. The Skrumps were also featured in their first interactive game launched on Yahoo in March of this year. Before becoming a television series, the property will manifest as a series of long-form DVD releases.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, The Jim Henson Co. is currently in post-production on 40 episodes of Sid the Science Kid, a new science readiness animated series for preschoolers that debuted on PBS Kids this month. The company also recently launched Puppet Up! – Uncensored, a live puppet improvisational show that has played to sold-out crowds around the world and premiered as a special on TBS.

Q&A: Clone Wars TV Show Revealed

Still strong the Force is with Dave Filoni.

Filoni, who directed the recent animated feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars, remains a key figure in the Star Wars galaxy, serving as supervising director of the upcoming animated TV series, also called Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

During a Sept. 18 conference call, Filoni joked that he was
Star Wars creator George Lucas' padawan learner, said he understood the mixed reaction to the Clone Wars
movie and previewed what fans can expect to see on the weekly series when it premieres next month on Cartoon Network.

The Clone Wars is set between the events of Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones and Episode III--Revenge of the Sith and includes such familiar characters as Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme Amidala, Yoda, Mace Windu, Palpatine and Count Dooku. Newcomers, introduced in the movie, include Ahsoka, a teenage, orange-skinned Togruta girl whom Yoda assigned to serve under Anakin as the Clone Wars worsened, and Asajj Ventress, a dark sorceress and Dooku's apprentice.

Lucas has said that much of the Star Wars mythos is in his head, but that even he needs to turn to a Star Wars encyclopedia sometimes to keep track of the timeline and the finer details. So what are the challenges for you and how much freedom do you have to explore what interests you?

It's a really interesting collaboration. In the beginning, Henry Gilroy and I--Henry was the story editor of season one--came up with a whole bunch of premises for stories that we might like to see in Clone Wars period. We sent those all to George, and he either said yes or no, and that's where we got a lot of the early stories from. And I think that as George was seeing what we were doing with an animated series called Star Wars, and the level of detail and what we could do visually, he got more and more interested, and he came up with more and more story ideas of his own. Probably he was also just finishing Revenge of the Sith when we started. Literally, my first week working on the project that movie was in theaters. So that gives you a sense of the timeline of when we started developing this thing. So I think George needed to cool down from all that big media of Revenge of the Sith, and then we got him really interested in this. And now he's very involved with all of the stories and coming up with the ideas. But if I say, "Hey, I'd like to do an episode like this," based on this other movie or particular thing, he'll always consider it and come back to me with ideas based on that. So it's turned it out to be a really interesting collaboration based on that.

Star Wars creator George Lucas with his latest creation, the padawan Ahsoka.

The Clone Wars movie elicited a lot of debate over how well it did or didn't do. Was it for kids or adults? What are your thoughts on all the debate, and in what ways does the film set up the series?

I found it really interesting. As a fan of Star Wars for so long, I always knew there was going to be debate, you know? No matter what you do with Star Wars you're going to have a huge debate about it, which is actually part of the fun of being a fan, having the big arguments over "I liked this" or "I didn't like that," or "This aspect fit with what I thought, but that aspect didn't." I think that one of the greatest things is that people are still talking about Star Wars, you know? "Anakin has a padawan; I've never heard of that." But now everybody is talking about the fact that Anakin has a padawan, and the movie introduced that idea. And it didn't just introduced ideas about who these new characters are, but it introduced this whole other look for Star Wars, which I think probably was always going to take people by surprise, because it's CG. So it has the ability to be somewhat like live-action when you look at the vehicles, but then the characters are obviously not. So it's kind of a new frontier for the Star Wars universe, though they'd dabbled in cartoons before, as far back as Droids and the Christmas special and more recently with the previous Cartoon Network shorts with Genndy [Tartakovsky, who directed a 2-D animated Clone Wars series of interstitials]. But it's never been this large a format, necessarily, and George is so very involved with this that it was going to be a whole new experience for Star Wars fans.

And I think now they've got a taste of that experience and they're starting to see the trailers running on Cartoon Network for the series, and they're starting to figure out, "Oh, I see what this is about." It's kind of exciting. My take on it is that it's a really exciting time to be a
Star Wars fan, when we thought after Revenge of the Sith there might not be that much more Star Wars, and now with The Force Unleashed [video game just] launched, the talk is all Star Wars and the impending Clone Wars
series as well. So, it's a good time to be a fan.

We know from the live-action films the fates of some of the characters, so can you talk about building towards the inevitable with those characters and how you'll deal with the newer characters that clearly won't make it to the events of the live-action films?

As far as knowing what the ending is, I think that one of the things about the prequels was we were all just waiting for Anakin to become Darth Vader. I wanted to see him in that suit again and hear the voice. That's what we wanted more than anything. And so it is a challenge, because we know what happens to Anakin. We know what happens to Obi-Wan, we even know that the clones betray them all. But I think that by building up interesting characters within this storyline, within this part of the saga that we don't know what happens, too ... We know what happens to the clones, but specifically what happens to Captain Rex? We know what happens to Jedi, but specifically what happened to Ahsoka? And the fans are already asking those questions.

I think that if we play the story correctly, knowing that there's tidal wave of dramatic experiences for the clones and the Jedi and the Republic coming at the end, which of these characters survive that? Will any of them survive that? That becomes the question. Even Ventress, there's been a version of what happened to her in the comic books, and sometimes there are different versions of what happened to her, so how does she meet her end if she does? And I think that starting to see the Star Wars saga through those characters, as opposed to the big classic ones that we know--like Yoda and Anakin and Obi-Wan, though they're always there--will be compelling and will keep the audience wondering. And we also give little pieces of the puzzle along the way that tell you more about Palpatine and tell you more about Anakin's relationship with him, things like that, things that help, when you see Revenge of the Sith again, you go, "Oh, I see. Now I actually understand even better why that occurred."

You grew up loving the Star Wars movies and here you are working directly with George Lucas. Do you feel a little like his padawan learner?

Yeah, he's said that from time to time and I think it's pretty funny. That was pretty surreal and kind of, I guess, our little joke, as a master teaching his apprentice. So I try to be the best apprentice I can be and live up to the history that Star Wars has already made for itself.

Event News

NYTFGP2008 Festival Part One starts September 28th, 2008 at NYU's Cantor Film Center, with a steady stream of screenings in the following weeks in October, and at other key venues including Anthology Archive and Tribeca Cinemas around the NYC.

Anime should should note GENIUS PARTY's presence on the roster.

“GENIUS PARTY” is an anthology of short animated films from Studio 4.C, who are best known for their “Animatrix” and “Tekkonkinkreet” projects. The project’s theme given to seven and five selected directors for “Genius Party (2007) and was “ZERO regulation on creation.” Under this ultimate freedom, 12 geniuses created something special and unique for themselves.

Director Shinichiro Watanabe (”Cowboy Bepop,” “Samurai Champloo”) said in an interview, “All of my anime is about guns, swords, blood, etc. Using this opportunity, I just wanted to make a real love story which I’ve never done before.” His “Baby Blue” in “Genius Party”, featuring the voice of Yuya Kagura (“Nobody Knows”) and Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel”) is a beautiful love story that cannot be missed.

For event related interviews, see here


The UK's Barbican Film will mark the 80th anniversary of the birth of Osamu Tezuka with a major season of feature films, short films and television episodes curated by Helen McCarthy, many of which will be screening in the UK for the first time. Alongside this, Barbican Film will present an exhibition of Tezuka's drawings.
Editor's note: this is amazing, so I'm going to include the whole list..

Saturday 20 September
11.00am - Family Film Club: Jungle Emperor Leo (Jungle Taitei/Jungle Emperor) (PG*) (1997 Dir. Takeo Takeuchi 99 min Dubbed)

Saturday 20 September
1.15pm - Childrens' Programme: Astro Boy: The Brave In Space (Tetsuwan Atom: Uchuu no Yuusha) (PG*) (1964 Dir. Atsushi Takagi, Eiichi Yamamoto & Shigeyuki Hayashi 87 min) ^

Osamu and Musashi (PG*) (2005 Dir. Rintaro 18 min) ^

Saturday 20 September
3.45pm - The Film Is Alive: Osamu Tezuka Filmography 1962-1989 (PG*) (1990 42 min)
A documentary made for the Tezuka Osamu Exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum the year after Tezuka's death, this film boasts probably the most over specified title card in the world. Each of the ten letters has been handwritten by one of his friends, all superstars of the manga and anime community. It provides a thumbnail introduction to his work and records its diversity and energy, as well as featuring live footage of Tezuka himself.
Panel discussion: Being Osamu Tezuka
Season curator Helen McCarthy discusses Tezuka's work with a panel of experts.

Legend of the Forest (Mori no Densetsu) (PG*) (1988 Dir. Osamu Tezuka & Kouji Ui 30 min)

Saturday 20 September
6.00pm - Phoenix 2772/Space Firebird (Hi no Tori 2772: Ai no Cosmozone) (PG) (1980 Dir. Suguru Sugiyama 122 min)

Saturday 20 September
8.30pm - The Phoenix: Chapter of Dawn (Hi no Tori: Reimei Hen) (PG) 1978 Dir. Kon Ichikawa 138 min)

Sunday 21 September
12.00pm - Jungle Emperor Leo (PG*) (1966 Dir. Eiichi Yamamoto 75min) ^

Sunday 21 September
1.45pm - Fantastic Adventures of Unico 1 (Unico) (PG) (1981 Dir. Toshio Hirata 90 min Dubbed)

Sunday 21 September
3.45pm - The Lion Books (12A)

Akuemon (1993 Dir. Macoto Tezuka 25 min)

Adachigahara (1991 Dir. Hisashi Sakaguchi 25 min)

The Green Cat (Midori na Neko) (1983 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 24 min)

Lunn Flies into the Wind (Lun wa Kaze no Naka) (1985 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 24 min)

Rain Boy (1983 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 24 min)

Sunday 21 September
6.30pm - Tezuka On The Telly 2
More first episodes from Tezuka's later work for television.

Princess Knight (Ribon no Kishi/Knight of the Ribbon) (PG*) (1967 Osamu Tezuka & Sadao Tsukioka 23 min)

Vampire (PG*) (1968 Dir. Ken Yamada & Kikuchi 22 min)

Marvellous Melmo (Fushigina Melmo) (PG*) (1971 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 23min)

The Three-eyed One (Mitsumi ga Toru) (PG*) (1990 Dir. Hideki Hiroshima 25 min)

Sunday 21 September
8.30pm - 1001 Nights (Senya Ichiya Monogatari) (18*) (1969 Dir. Eiichi Yamamoto 128 min)

Monday 22 September
11.00am - Schools Screening: Tezuka on the Telly 1 (PG*)

Monday 22 September
6.00pm - Prime Rose (Time Slip 10000-nen Prime Rose) (12A) (Japan 1983 Dir. Tetsu Dezaki 90 min)

Monday 22 September
8.00pm - Baggy (aka Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature) (12A) (1984 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 90 min)

Tuesday 23 September
11.00am - Schools Screening: Baggy (aka Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature) (12A)

Tuesday 23 September
6.00pm - Kamishibai theatre: Tezuka Osamu (Two stories introduced by Helen McCarthy and Paul Gravett. With soft titles. Location: Garden Room).
A live performance from artist Mr Yasuno of two stories including a Kamishibai based on episodes from Tezuka's life. Kamishibai (paper-theatre) evolved in Japan in the late 1920s from a long tradition of picture storytelling, performed on street corners. The form became so popular that television was initially referred to in Japan as denki kamishibai, or "electric kamishiba". As its popularity declined, Kamishibai artists turned to manga and Mr Yasuno's recreation offers audiences a rare opportunity to witness this street performance whose influence lives on in modern anime.

Wednesday 24 September
8.30pm - Cleopatra (aka Cleopatra, Queen of Sex) (18*) (1970 Dir. Osamu Tezuka & Eiichi Yamamoto 112 min)

Also at the Barbican, the third season of Japanimation returns with the latest live action movie by Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira fame. Mushishi is based on the manga that inspired Revelation Films' current hit anime series of the same name. Here Barbican Film presents two episodes from the series before the feature in this Mushi-fest introduced by anime expert and author Helen McCarthy.

Mushishi (15) (Japan 2006 Katsuhiro Otomo 131 min)
The Mushi are neither plants nor animals, instead they resemble the primeval substances of life. A travelling mystical doctor, a 'Bug Master' passes through remote regions of Japan curing the ill effects of these supernatural creatures.
Mushishi (15) (Japan 2005 Dir. Hiroshi Nagahama 50min)
Few humans are actually aware of the Mushi's existence and among them is Ginko, a 'Mushishi' who travels around investigating them. In the course of his research he aids those plagued by supernatural phenomenon caused by the Mushi. Episodes 1 & 3 of the anime TV series.

Cinema Hotline: 0845 120 7527

Ticket prices:
Book online and save up to £2 off every ticket!
Standard: £7.50 online (£9.50 full price)
Barbican Members: £6.50 online (£7.50 full price)
Concessions: £7.50
Under 15: £4.50

The New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF) has announced their call line-up. Tickets can be purchased here

Bandai Entertainment Inc. and Kadokawa Pictures USA announced that the English language version of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time will play Saturday October 18, 2008 at the Black Bear Film Festival in Milford, PA.

France, Animation, Michel Ocelot, 2006/2008, 98 min
US premiere English language version
Sat & Sun, Oct 18 & 19, 11am - IFC Center, 323 6th Ave (at West 3rd)
Sat, Nov 29, 11am, 2pm - Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th)

Azur and Asmar is the story of two boys raised as brothers. Blonde, blue-eyed, white skinned Azur and black-haired, brown-eyed, dark-skinned Asmar are lovingly cared for by Asmar's gentle mother, who tells them magical stories of her faraway homeland and of beautiful, imprisoned Fairy Djinn waiting to be set free. Time passes, and one day Azur's father, the master of the house, provokes a brutal separation. Azur is sent away to study, while Asmar and his mother are driven out, homeless and penniless. Years later, as a young adult, Azur remains haunted by memories of the sunny land of his nanny, and sets sail south across the high seas to find the country of his dreams. Meanwhile, back in her homeland, Azur's nanny has become a wealthy merchant and Asmar has grown into a dashing horseman. Reunited but now as adversaries, the two brothers set off on a dangerous quest to find and free the Fairy of the Djinns.

USA, Animation, Nina Paley, 2008, 82 min

Sat & Sun, Nov 8 & 9, 11am - IFC Center, 323 6th Ave (at West 3rd)

Tragedy, comedy and musical collide in this gloriously animated new film from Nina Paley, New York's own "One Woman Pixar" (Wired Magazine). Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three bickering shadow puppets with Indian accents act as comic narrators as these old and new stories are interwoven interwoven in a post-modern retelling of the ancient Indian epic Ramayana, animated in a dazzling mix of traditional and collage animation styles, and backed by a soundtrack from legendary 1920's jazz singer Annette Hanshaw.

Sita Sings the Blues follows in the line of Triplets of Bellville, Spirited Away and Persepolis to exemplify animation as a "serious" art form. The panoply of monsters, gods, goddesses, warriors, sages, and winged eyeballs fill the screen with vivid color from start to finish, while the narrators' hilarious improvisational debates over the Rama legend join the filmmaker's own tragicomic story and Hanshaw's done-me-wrong tunes to layer a modern feminist commentary on the ancient tale. The result is a subtly subversive, visually stunning, highly original work that is as enjoyable for children as it is for adults.

Sat & Sun, Oct 25 & 26, 11am - Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th)

Sat & Sun, Oct 25 & 26, 1pm - Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th)

USA, Leo McCarey, 1933, 68 min
Sat, Dec 20 at 1pm & Sun, Dec 21 at 11am - Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th)

USA, Gus Meins, 1934, 77 min
Sat, Dec 20 at 11am & Sun, Dec 21 at 1pm - Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th)
This film is also known under its alternate title, March of the Wooden Soldiers.

Mikki Brown, co-owner of theBrowns retail store on Water Street will be showing fashion inspired by Japanese design at Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Friday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m.

A local article can be read here

Japanamerica auhor Roland Kelts will be speaking at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute on Thursday, October 2, at 7 pm in Williamstown, Massachusetts

The Somerville Theatre outside Boston will host Anime After Dark October 18, 2008 7pm - 7am

Among the films to be screened included:
Grave of the Fireflies
Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society
Project A-Ko
Tekkon Kinkreet
Millenium Actress


The 2nd Annual Naruto Trek Convention has been announced for MARCH 27 - 29, 2009 at The Sheraton Suites Cypress Creek Hotel (Cypress Creek & I-95) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Guests include:

The voice of Naruto

voice actress, writer, singer, ADR director and voicing "KURENAI" from Naruto.

Nimoy has written, directed, and served as story editor for "Digimon: Digital Monsters" and co-wrote and directed "Digimon: The Movie" and "Digimon 02: Revenge of Diaboromon" for Disney.

actor and writer known for providing the voices of video game characters Raiden in "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty," Axel in "Kingdom Hearts II," and Myifee in "99 Nights."






MangaNEXT, held October 31 through November 2, 2008 at the Doubletree Somerset in New Jersey, announced that Misako Rocks, an artist featured in Elle Girl and the New York Times will be a guest at the event.


Tiffany Grant, voice actress of Asuka Langely from Neon Genesis Evangelion, will be a guest at Arazona's Phoenix Comicon

A restored version of Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" will be screen along with "Kagemusha," "Seven Samurai," "Ran," "Yojimbo" and "Dersu Uzala" Friday and Saturday evenings at LA's Goldwyn and Linwood Dunn theaters through Oct. 4.

To mark Comic Market's 35th year anniversary, Comiket Special 5 is planned for 2010

Worth Checking Out...

Yokai... maybe they're not the new "ninjas," but they should be...
Shigeru Mizuki, creator of the classic yokai manga Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro was interviewed by Shigeru Mizuki Interview Online The Daily Yomiu

Also, has launched

Manga Punk interviews Queenie Chan (The Dreaming, In Odd We Trust)

The MSNBC piece on sex and anime continues to reverberate through the circles of anime commentators

The official comments thread can be found here

Otaku USA's Patrick Macias weighed in on the Anime World Order podcast.

Lawrence Eng also commented on how his quotes were used.

Also on the Macias front, Cool Japan: Why Japanese remakes are so popular on American TV, and where we’re getting it wrong

At Otaku USA's site, Ed Chavez covers Comiket 74 and Comitia 85

Publishers Weekly looks at the history of Antarctic Press and the New York Anime Festival

Borderline Hikikomori explores the works of Peach-Pitt and attempts a lecture on mahou shoujoo

Jog takes an early look at Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack

Manga Recon can now be found on PopCulture Shock

Matt Thorn presents a look at Japan’s first hit manga, Shô-chan no bôken (”The Adventures of Little Shô”), written by Shôsei Oda

The relatively new Colony Drop seems like an interesting otaku comentary site.

Mecha Mecha Media finishes a summer 2008 roundup

The Anime Almanac offers A Look at the Humor of "Haré + Guu"

The Manga Writer: Rise Of The Storyteller Part One

Iwa ni Hana on Kouha vs Nanpa as the concepts relate to anime/manga

Manga Before Flowers — Itazura na Kiss & Contemporary Shojo

Comics212 on DISAPPEARANCE DIARY, by Hideo Azuma
Ed Sizemore weighs in here

Ghibliworld.Com’s Venice Report & Ponyo Review


Cartoon Brew has launched weekly shorts as part of Cartoon Brew TV starting with Doxology by Michael Langan

Gurren Lagann Parallel Works Video 8
Warning - Spoilers...

The eight videos are streamed here

Episode 75 of the Anime Today podcast features Lance Fensterman and Peter Tatara – the show manager and programming manager for the New York Anime Festival.

In this new interview, Tatara and Fensterman discuss the array of special guests appearing at the New York Anime Festival over the weekend of September 26-28, 2008. Guests include Vampire Hunter D creator and novelist Hideyuki Kikuchi, artist Yoshitaka Amano, “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, Japanese voice actor Rie Tanaka, and fashion house Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, plus musical acts and a variety of guests from all facets of the North American anime and manga publishing industries.

Wired presents photos of Akihabara's support for noted geek/would-be Prime Minister "Rozen Aso"

New Michiko to Hatchin wallpapers

Haruhi's new add cameo

A Very Go Nagai Halloween

Real (sortof) Doraemon

Fist of the North Star Wedding Photos

The winners of Same Hat! Same Hat!'s Tokyo Zombie contest

Also, a preview of Tokyo Zombie localizer Ryan Sand's Electric Ant


The Latest YouTube Trend: Nani Kei Demo Nai

Mecha Mecha Media has a question for the forgotten(?) subscribers to NewType USA/PiQ

Ready for Danity Kane anime? (does anyone regret the t.A.T.u. Paragate anime not coming to fruition?)

Diamond Previews for Sept 08 (Shipping Nov/Dec 08)

Rabbits Kin 2.0

Matthew Hunter and Jon Cooke have a terrific blog which I’ve linked to before, Miscel-Looney-ous, which regularly examines the odds and ends of Warner Bros. cartoons. Today they found a video on YouTube worthy of much wider exposure - someone took the 1952 Bugs Bunny cartoon Rabbit’s Kin (the one with Pete Puma, voiced by Stan Freberg), slowed down the dialogue of super-sped-up little Bunny so we can actually hear what Mel Blanc is saying. It’s well worth a listen and a real joy to hear some new Looney Tunes dialogue from Blanc.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Max Howard on Igor

Animation World Network has posted an interview with Max Howard, producer of the recently released CGI flick Igor. Howard provides a behind-the-scenes look at what went into creating the independent film, including various locations Igor was animated in as well as what it took to nab the A-list cast of actors. The unique look of the movie is also discussed at length, with Howard explaining in his production notes, “Photo realism is boring to me. It’s fun to remake reality in a way that is surprising.”

Extended scene from Bolt

An extended clip from Disney’s Bolt can now be viewed on Yahoo! Movies. The scene features Bolt and his hamster sidekick Rhino rescuing Mittens the cat from a pound. Bolt opens in theaters on November 21st.

Truth in Advertising: Shrek the Musical

They said it so I don’t have to: a surprisingly accurate ad for the Broadway version of Shrek.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Cartoon Network's Toonami Block Canceled

Cartoon Network's Toonami block has been canceled. Originally broadcasting March 17, 1997, Toonami aired shows such as ThunderCats, Voltron, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Robotech, Beast Wars: Transformers, Sailor Moon, Superfriends, Dragon Ball Z, The Powerpuff Girls, Ronin Warriors, ReBoot, G-Force: Guardians of Space, Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Blue Submarine No. 6, Tenchi Muyo, Cardcaptor Sakura, Dragon Ball, Batman Beyond, Zoids: New Century Zero, Zoids: Chaotic Century, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers: Armada, G.I. Joe, Samurai Jack, .hack//SIGN, Martian Successor Nadesico, Gigantor, Dai-Guard, Yu Yu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Cyborg 009, IGPX (Micro-Series), Star Wars: Clone Wars, Dragon Ball GT, Duel Masters, Astro Boy, Transformers: Energon, Jackie Chan Adventures, Gundam SEED, Megas XLR, Teen Titans, Justice League Unlimited, Rave Master, Transformers: Energon, D.I.C.E., Zatch Bell!, The Batman, One Piece, Transformers: Cybertron, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, IGPX, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Dragonball Z (Uncut), Wulin Warriors, Pokémon Chronicles, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, Pokémon: Battle Frontier, Naruto, MÄR, The Prince of Tennis, Storm Hawks, Mega Man Star Force, Bakugan Battle Brawlers, Blue Dragon and Ben 10: Alien Force and ends broadcasting September 20, 2008 after a little over eleven years.

Minisode Network Debuts New "Voltron" Episode

The Minisode Network has just made a new Voltron episode available via streaming video.

Plot Synopsis:
Zarkon is Dying

Sometime even an evil lord needs a sick day. Zarkon gets sick to the point where he may just bite the big one, and Prince Lotor uses evil trees to fight Voltron while looking to pick some berries for his pops. Maybe he should call it "Lotor's oil."

About The Minisode Network (
Sony Pictures Television's The Minisode Network is the premiere multi-platform network for the Minisode: 5-minute adaptations of favorite television shows that retain the full story arc of the episode. Perfect for online and mobile viewers, audiences can discover and reconnect with iconic characters and television series quickly at their favorite video portals. Spend some time on The Minisode Network via Sony Pictures'; YouTube; MySpace; Hulu; AOL; TidalTV; on mobile at Verizon Wireless' V Cast Video and SprintTV; and direct to Sony BRAVIA TVs via BRAVIA Internet Video Link.

The Minisode Network: The Shows You Love. Only Shorter.

Via Aint It Cool News -

Why Stop At Playing Kato? Stephen Chow To Direct THE GREEN HORNET!!!


Hey folks, Harry here - just back from night two of FANTASTIC FEST - just read this - HOLY F***! This is the greatest f***ing movie ever in my brain at this instant. I imagine a level of joygasmic e-geekulation all over each and every synapse collected in my massive cinema-juiced cranium! HEAVEN ON EARTH, THIS IS YOUR FILM!

Beaks here...

We've known for some time that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were keen to cast Stephen Chow as Kato in their big-screen reintroduction/reinvention of THE GREEN HORNET. Now that they've got him, it makes perfect sense to let the man direct the damn thing, too!

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the director-star of SHAOLIN SOCCER, KUNG FU HUSTLE and CJ7 (reportedly a cinch for Moriarty Jr.'s 2008 Top Ten list) will indeed call the shots on this long-gestating project (currently scheduled for a June 25, 2010 release). This will also serve as Stephen Chow's American filmmaking debut, which is pretty cool considering that the televised GREEN HORNET introduced Chow's hero, Bruce Lee, to American audiences back in the 1960s. Here's Chow's quote from the Reporter:

"I'm excited to be taking on 'The Green Hornet' -- obviously I've been a huge fan of the show since I was a kid," Chow said. "The idea of stepping into Bruce Lee's shoes as Kato is both humbling and thrilling, and to get the chance to direct the project as my American movie debut is simply a dream come true."

What this means in terms of tone is anybody's guess. The Rogen/Goldberg script has yet to surface (attention leakers: time to start leakin'!), but I doubt they hired Chow to put him in a creative straitjacket. I'm expecting zany, but reined-in - more SHAOLIN SOCCER than KUNG-FU HUSTLE. And since The Hollywood Reporter went out of their way to note that Rogen has "slimmed down" in anticipation for the film, I'm also expecting him to be as involved in the action as Chow.

This is great news. I mean, I don't have any real affection for the character or the TV show (aside from the Bruce Lee connection), but the idea of Rogen and Chow kicking ass in an action comedy... if they do this right, it'll be like RUSH HOUR never happened.

New Spirit Posters, Sin City 2 Update

Two items related to Frank Miller today. First up, UGO has debuted two new posters for The Spirit which feature Gabriel Macht and Samuel L. Jackson. You can check out the posters by clicking the thumbnails below!

Staying with The Spirit for a moment, tells us that Miller was in Rome to present Liongate's Christmas Day release. He showed a new trailer and four scenes from the film. You can read descriptions of the footage shown here!

In the Q&A session with Miller, he also touched on Sin City 2:

I can't talk about my projects, because I don't believe a movie is real until I see the title on the screen. There are many things that can go wrong. But I can tell you that I'm very close to begin 'Sin City 2' with Robert Rodriguez. We have to arrange a few things and we'll be back in action.

Helfer Voicing Web of Shadows's Black Cat

Activision has alerted us that current star of the new "Spectacular Spider-Man" series and "Battlestar Galactica," Tricia Helfer, is lending her voice to the mischievous Black Cat in the upcoming "Spider-Man: Web of Shadows" video game.

Originally a fashion model and winner of the Ford Supermodel of the World Contest, Tricia pursued a full-time acting career in 2002 with her start on the television series "Jeremiah." She's since starred in leading roles in "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Spiral," and the paranormal drama TV series "Supernatural."

Look for Tricia on the "Spider-Man: Web of Shadows" community site – - where she will be announcing various upcoming activities and answering questions as they roll in from all over the Marvel Universe.

Treasury Announces Guaranty Program for Money Market Funds

If you've been totally focused on your Cintiq over the past week, you might not have noticed that the World and American economies have been going through ... ah ... serious gyrations.

So to let you know, the world and U.S. econmies have been having hiccups.

We've gotten nervous inquiries about whether Mass Mutual, our 401(k) administrator, is safe, if the various funds in the Plan are safe, and so on.

Here's some of the skinny: Mass Mutual can go into bankruptcy tomorrow and it won't affect the cash held in our various funds, since by law those are all held separate and apart.

Obviously, if different funds decline in value because of equities or bonds held in those funds, you will lose money. That's the way the market -- usually -- works *.

But the good news is: if the administrator goes under, it won't adversely impact anybody's fund holdings.

What follows is an announcement from the Treasury Department about the type of fund accounts it intends to backstop ... inside or outside 401(k) Plans. Those funds are called "Money Market Funds" and TAG's 401(k) Plan does not currently have any "money market" accounts in its line-up of funds. The closest thing that we have is Mass Mutual's "SAGIC Account," and we are in the process of finding out how the U.S. Treasury's new "Guaranty Program" (detailed below the fold) will impact it.

In the meantime, read Treasury's press release, and gain reassurance that we are on the right track under the sure and steady hand or our Leaders in D.C.
September 19, 2008

Treasury Announces Guaranty Program for Money Market Funds

Washington- The U.S. Treasury Department today announced the establishment of a temporary guaranty program for the U.S. money market mutual fund industry. For the next year, the U.S. Treasury will insure the holdings of any publicly offered eligible money market mutual fund – both retail and institutional – that pays a fee to participate in the program.

President George W. Bush approved the use of existing authorities by Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. to make available as necessary the assets of the Exchange Stabilization Fund for up to $50 billion to guarantee the payment in the circumstances described below.

Money market funds play an important role as a savings and investment vehicle for many Americans; they are also a fundamental source of financing for our capital markets and financial institutions. Maintaining confidence in the money market fund industry is critical to protecting the integrity and stability of the global financial system.

Concerns about the net asset value of money market funds falling below $1 have exacerbated global financial market turmoil and caused severe liquidity strains in world markets. In turn, these pressures have caused a spike in some short term interest and funding rates, and significantly heightened volatility in exchange markets. Absent the provision of such financing, there is a substantial risk of further heightened global instability.

Maintenance of the standard $1 net asset value for money market mutual funds is important to investors. If the net asset value for a fund falls below $1, this undermines investor confidence. The program provides support to investors in funds that participate in the program and those funds will not "break the buck".

This action should enhance market confidence and alleviate investors' concerns about the ability for money market mutual funds to absorb a loss. Investors in money market mutual funds with a net asset value that falls below $1 would be notified that their fund triggered the insurance program.

The Exchange Stabilization Fund was established by the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. This Act authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, with the approval of the President, "to deal in gold, foreign exchange, and other instruments of credit and securities" consistent with the obligations of the U.S. government in the International Monetary Fund to promote international financial stability. More information on the Exchange Stabilization Fund
can be found here.

* I, of course, exempt those stocks, bonds and companies that the fine socialist government in Washington D.C. has nationalized. That's a different deal.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Shatner Blasts Trek's Abrams

Original Star Trek star William Shatner posted a video on blasting J.J. Abrams, who is helming a reboot of the franchise.

Shatner, as is well known, does not appear in the new movie. In the video, below, Shatner disputes why.

"Flintstones" theme drummer Earl Palmer dead at 84

Hugely prolific New Orleans drummer Earl Palmer, whose powerful backbeat was heard on the fast, percussion-heavy theme song of "The Flintstones," died Friday in Los Angeles after a long illness. He was 84.

Possibly the most recorded drummer in the history of popular music, Palmer helped create the beat of rock 'n roll. He was heard on thousands of recordings, starting in the late 1940s.

"He was my right hand," Dave Bartholomew, the producer and co-writer of Fat Domino's catalog, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "He was a professor of music. [With Palmer's death,] it's like I died myself."

"If any single musician can be credited with defining rock & roll as a rhythmic idiom distinct from the jump, R&B, and all else that preceded it, that musician is surely Earl Palmer," wrote Robert Palmer (no relation) in Rolling Stone.

Born Earl C. Palmer in New Orleans on October 25, 1924, he grew up in the city's Treme neighborhood. As a young boy, he entered show business as a tap dancer with his mother and aunt on the black vaudeville circuit.

Later, he moved to Los Angeles, impacting the music scenes in both cities as a first-call session drummer. From 1950 to 1957, Palmer's powerful backbeat and mastery of second-line shuffle rhythms made him a much in-demand percussionist in his hometown.

He was hired by bandleader Dave Bartholomew in 1947 after a stint in the army and recorded extensively with Bartholomew protege Domino, Lloyd Price, Smiley Lewis and other New Orleans artists at Cosimo Matassa's legendary J&M Studios. He also played on the seminal rock and roll recordings of Little Richard, who wrote in his autobiography that Palmer "is probably the greatest session drummer of all time."

In 1949, Palmer played drums on Domino's debut hit "The Fat Man," a reported million-seller that reached #2 on the R&B chart early the following year. Lured to California to work for Aladdin Records in 1957, he played on literally thousands of rock, jazz, R&B and soundtrack sessions over the years. From his home base in Los Angeles, Palmer drummed for producer Phil Spector and for Motown.

His list of session credits included artists as diverse as Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Duane Eddy, Frank Sinatra, the Monkees, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Otis, Neil Young and Elvis Costello.

Though Palmer's first love was jazz -- "I lived in a jazz world," he allowed in his biography Backbeat: Earl Palmer's Story -- he laid the foundation for rock and roll drumming with his solid stickwork and feverish backbeat. He was heard on such classics as Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin.'"

In 1961, he recorded the solo album Drumsville for the Liberty label, followed a year later by "Percolator Twist." Among other projects in 1968, he played on albums by the Monkees, Taj Mahal, Roy Brown and Van Dyke Parks.

The year 1972 was typically prolific and varied. He played on albums by B.B. King, Randy Newman and Professor Longhair.

Backbeat: Earl Palmer's Story, by music journalist and historian Tony Scherman, was published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 1999. A companion CD, Backbeat: The World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Drummer (Ace Records), collected 30 of the strongest tracks that he played on.

On March 6, 2000, Palmer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the fifteenth annual induction dinner. Mike Leiber and Jerry Stoller were his presenters.

Palmer could be heard on scores of Fats Domino singles, including his hits "I'm In Love Again," "I'm Walkin" and "My Blue Heaven." He backed Little Richard on "Long Tall Sally," Lewis on "I Hear You Knocking," Price on "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," Shirley & Lee on "Let the Good Times Roll," and Ritchie Valens on "La Bamba."
"Earl was a complete musician, a complete drummer," Bartholomew said. "In the studio, I didn't have to tell him (anything). He would tell me. If it was a sweet song, he knew how to approach it. If it was rock 'n roll, he knew how to approach that."

He contributed to the soundtracks of dozens of 1960s and 1970s movie classics. These included It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Cool Hand Luke, In the Heat of the Night, Valley of the Dolls, Rosemary's Baby, Kelly's Heroes, Harold and Maude, Lady Sings the Blues, What's Up, Doc?, Walking Tall, The Longest Yard and The Rose. Movie work in the 1980s included Gremlins, Top Gun, Predator, Cocktail and The Fabulous Baker Boys.

Palmer played the theme song or incidental music on such TV series as I Dream of Jeannie, Green Acres, Ironside, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Odd Couple and M.A.S.H.

He continued working even through the 1990s. His influence was recognized by drummers ranging from the Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts to the E Street Band's Max Weinberg.

Earl Palmer was married four times. His survivors include seven children, 18 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

Highlights from Ottawa

I’ve been in Ottawa since Wednesday and it’s been wall-to-wall screenings, presentations and panels (not to mention parties, meetings and lots of walking). Today Eric Goldberg is giving a lecture, there’s one last competition screening, and tonight is the award ceremonies. One of the major highlights of this five day event was the John Canemaker interview with Richard Williams last night. Two hours was not enough. Williams and Canemaker could have gone on for four hours and I still would have wanted more. If you are in New York tomorrow night, do not miss the encore at MoMA (and I understand Williams will be touring the U.S. giving similar interviews to promote his 16-part DVD set The Animator's Survival Kit Animated - more about this in a forthcoming post).

The competition has been pretty good, and I came away from each screening with at least one film (sometimes several) that blew me away with creativity and visual imagination. I’d like to note a few here that were particularly worthy of seeking out.

Skhizein, Jeremy Clapin’s 3D/2D tour-de-force about a man hit by a meteorite and finding himself existing 91 centimeters away from his body. The story was so unique and fun, I can see Hollywood remaking it, perhaps with someone like Michael Gondry, as a live action vehicle for a Ben Stiller or Steve Martin. Let’s hope not. This animated film is gloriously original and beautifully realized.

Berni’s Doll by Yann Jouette, about a lonely man who buys, builds and sexually abuses a female robot, is so well made and so funny you can forgive it’s politically incorrect attitudes towards women. Its an outstanding short, which arguably becomes pro-feminist in its climactic resolution.

I also really loved Camera Obscura, directed by Matthieu Buchalski, Jean-Michel Drechsler and Thierry Onillon, three students at Supinfocom, the computer graphic university in France. If Guy Maddin did animation, this is what he’d make. Luckily, I found an embed and can share it with you below:

Link: Bitfilm TV

I’m also wild about Nina Paley’s feature Sita Sings The Blues, which I’m seeing again, for a second time, today. More about this film, and other Ottawa highlights, in a forthcoming post.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" Coming to a Mall Not So Far, Far Away

Cartoon Network has announced a mall tour to promote the upcoming series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The tour kicks off in Chicago, IL, on the weekend of September 19-21, 2008, and will continue through 7 more major American cities through November 9, 2008, including New York City, Atlanta, Houston, and Los Angeles.

Variety on Disney XD vs. Cartoon Network

Variety has taken a look at the upcoming battle of the 9-14 year old cable television demographic between Walt Disney's Disney XD network (formerly Toon Disney) and Time-Warner's Cartoon Network. The article digs into the motivation behind the channel to attract more teenage boys to Disney properties, and also discusses the licensing and advertising possibilities from both networks.

Pixar's Catmull and Hollander Describe Story Development at SIGGRAPH

Variety reports on a presentation at this year's SIGGRAPH conference about the story development process at Pixar Animation Studios. The session was led by Pixar President and Co-founder Ed Catmull, who was joined by producer Richard Hollander ("Presto"), who described their highly untraditional and unstructured process that has led to an unprecedented chain of critical and box-office successes. Some of the topics discussed seemed to be a summation of a recent article Catmull wrote for the Harvard Business Review.

Gabriel Macht talks about 'The Spirit'

Like the titular character in his upcoming 'The Spirit', Gabriel Macht has been a bit of an ethereal presence in recent years: The 36-year-old actor has appeared in a string of films, some noteworthy ("The Good Shepherd"), some not ("Grand Theft Parsons").

Chiklis says 'Fantastic Four' isn't dead, just resting

Michael Chiklis is that latest actor from the 'Fantastic Four' franchise to express reservations about the series. While talking to to MTV Splash Page the actor, who played Ben Grimm a.k.a. The Thing in both movies, said the franchise sure looks like it's at least sleeping very, very soundly.

"No one's really given it the kibosh to me, but the silence has been deafening. The fact that no one's mentioned it or asked a question says that, more than likely, that's not going to happen," Chiklis said. "I know that both of them were tremendously successful from a box office standpoint, but we've all moved on into other areas and other films."

However the actor stopped short of declaring it dead.

"I wouldn't go with [co-star Chris Evans] and put a port-mortem on it because you just never know," Chiklis said, referring to the fact that the Human Torch actor has said he won't do another. "As long as a company has your signature in place and they have a right of first refusal, that right may be exercised."

Emmy Rossum on 'Dragonball'

Emmy Rossum dishes deep to MTV Splash Page on playing Bulma in the upcoming Fox feature 'Dragonball'.

New "Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm" Special Edition DVD Release Being Considered

Sources at Warner Home Video inform The World's Finest a new DVD and Blu-ray release of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is currently being considered.

Multiple reports have turned up this week, erroneously claiming a new DVD release of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is currently in the works. Sources inform The World's Finest that a new DVD and Blu-ray release of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is not in the works, but is only being considered at this time.

Fans have been clamoring for a new DVD release of
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm for some time now. Released during the emergence of the DVD format, the current Batman: Mask of the Phantasm DVD features only the theatrical trailer as a bonus feature. The release is also a flip-disc, featuring a matted widescreen transfer on one side, and a full screen transfer on the other. An upgraded release of the film has been buzzed about for years as the DVD format became the dominant home video media. That same disc has been re-released multiple times, copying exactly the content and quality of the original Batman: Mask of the Phantasm DVD release.

Warner Home Video has stated that
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is currently under consideration for a new DVD and Blu-ray release. With fan demand for this release rising, and given the popularity of the character of Batman right now, chances are favorable for a new Batman: Mask of the Phantasm release in the near future. To reiterate, a new DVD and Blu-ray release of is not in the works, but is only being considered at this time. A definitive update on the status of a new release for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
is expected in the near future.

Stay tuned for further updates.

EXCLUSIVE! The First Images Of Megatron From Transformers 2?

Latino Review speculates...

Since Michael Bay has been keeping everything involving Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen a secret, it's been hard for fans knowing exactly what is up with some of their favorite Decepticons and Autobots.

One of the big questions is, is Megatron returning and if so, what will he look like? If these images are any indication, he appears to be a giant ass armored tank.

He kind of looks like Galvatron a bit from these pictures. I think these are toy packaging images when you look at them. I came to this conclusion because one pic says Megatron in the lower right and also they have that giant Toy logo on them. I'm an awesome detective. If this truly is what Megatron will look like, (you can see his face in a couple of shots) then he's going to be one bad mother f-er in this sequel.


He almost has an Alien look to him in regards to the color and armor. You know, if the Aliens were tanks...

Notice the giant cannon. Reminds you of his Galvatron look, doesn't it?

Seriously, he looks pretty badass. Notice his name in the lower right?

Yeah... it's Megatron alright.

Alright guys, what do you think? Is this the new Megatron? Is he in the sequel and in this form or is this just clever toy packaging? Are they fakes? Early conceptual art?

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