Friday, October 3, 2008

News - 10/03/08...

Smarter than average?: Yogi Bear feature in works

In a renewed effort to mine Jellystone Park, Warner Bros. is planning a live-action/animated Yogi Bear film, The Hollywood Reporter said Wednesday night.

Yogi Bear and his little pal Boo Boo will be depicted in computer-generated animation, but much of the film will be live-action, the trade paper reported. The hybrid will be similar in concept to Fox's 2007 hit Alvin And The Chipmunks.

The famed Hanna-Barbera series was first brought to the big screen by its original studion for 1964's Hey There, It's Yogi Bear. Hanna-Barbera Productions' first full-length feature film was a great success, playing regularly in Saturday matinees for years after its release.

This time around, Ash Brannon, co-producer and co-writer of Sony Pictures Animation's Surf's Up (2007), is attached to direct. Brannon has also worked on such hit Pixar features as A Bug's Life (1998) and Toy Story 2 (1999).

The screenplay is being written by That '70s Show executive producers Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia, who are also writing the feature film Tooth Fairy for Fox.

Donald De Line is producing the Yogi Bear feature through his De Line Pictures. Karen Rosenfelt is also producing the movie, with Jon Berg supervising for Warner Bros.

It’s Tough to Be a Bird

Somebody finally posted Ward Kimball’sIt’s Tough to Be a Bird online. The short won the Oscar for best animated short in 1969. I’ve compiled the YouTube segments into a playlist below:

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Belgian "Tarzoon" composer Marc Moulin dead at 66

Marc Moulin, credited as the "musical brain" behind 1980s Belgian electro band Telex, died Friday of cancer. He was 66.

His death was announced Tuesday by Télémoustique, the weekly magazine for which he was a columnist.

Moulin was the musical consultant and a composer for the Belgian-French animated feature film Tarzoon, la Honte de la Jungle, a bawdy 1975 spoof of Tarzan movies. Known in English as Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle, Shame of the Jungle or Jungle Burger, the movie included the Moulin-penned tunes "Bug Blues" and "Shame Sitar."

A keyboardist as well, Moulin was involved in the controversial Telex song "Euro-vision," written as Belgium's entry in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest.

Telex performed "Euro-vision" with the idea of finishing dead last. However, that effort failed when Portugal gave 10 points to Belgium. Telex finished 17th in a field of 19 participants, and the band's performance became one of the highlights in the 50-year-old Eurovision Song Contest archive.

Moulin was a producer as well, wotking with such artists such as Philip Catherine, Lio, Alain Chamfort and Sparks.

He remained very active as a musician and composer until last year. His last album, I Am You, was released in January 2007. Philip Catherine's album Guitars II, which Moulin produced, was his final work.

In accordance with Marc Moulin's last wishes, a private funeral was held Tuesday.

DreamWorks' "Kung Fu Panda" strikes back in 2011

The sequel to worldwide hit "Kung Fu Panda" is expected to return to theaters on June 3, 2011, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. announced Wednesday.

The studio also anticipates releasing the film into IMAX theatres worldwide. The sequel to Kung Fu Panda, like all DreamWorks Animation feature films starting in 2009, will be produced in stereoscopic 3D technology.

The sequel will once again star Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and other original cast members, and will be directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, head of story on Kung Fu Panda. It will be produced by Melissa Cobb. Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who wrote and co-produced the original film, will also be returning.

In the new film, Po, the world's biggest kung fu fan, continues his journey as the chosen one who fulfills an ancient prophecy while mastering the art of kung fu.

"We are thrilled to reunite the creative team that made Kung Fu Panda such a global success," said DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. "Because of their imaginative work, Po's path to heroism proved popular with moviegoers of all ages around the world."

"The story of Kung Fu Panda provided a great introduction to these characters and afforded wonderful opportunities to further expand on the world we created in ancient China. Quite simply, there's more story to tell," added Bill Damaschke, the studio's co-president of production and president of live theatrical.

During its theatrical run, Kung Fu Panda has reached over $626 million in worldwide box office to date, making it one of this year's most successful films and DreamWorks Animation's most successful original film ever. It exceeded $215 million in North American box office and over $411 million in international territories.

Kung Fu Panda will be released November 9 on two-disc DVD and Blu-ray alongside a brand-new companion story, Secrets of the Furious Five.

Bacher is Back

Designer Hans Bacher (Mulan, The Lion King), the author of Dream Worlds, is back again with another blog dedicated to reconstructing the background paintings of the classic Disney films.

(link via Tom Sito)

(Thanks Mark Mayerson)

Bluto gets a statue

This just in from Popeye fan and historian Leonard Kohl:

“A few weeks ago, I was asked to help “unveil” a statue of “Bluto the Terrible” in E.C. Segar’s hometown of Chester, Illinois during the annual POPEYE picnic, parade and POPEYE FANCLUB convention, which is always the weekend after Labor Day. I was asked to do this as I’ve played “Bluto” for 11 years annually for a POPEYE radio play presented live on a Chester, Illinois radio station. Knowing the old rivalry between Disney and Fleischer, I find it kind of ironic that the “Bluto” statue seems to be guarding the front entrance of the “Buena Vista” Bank!”

Click on thumbnail photos below, taken by Chuck Anders from The Official Popeye Fanclub, to see (left) Steve Stanchfield, Lenny Kohl and his wife, Dana Kohl in front of the statue from another angle and (below right) a close-up of the side of the statue - the tribute to Jackson Beck.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Sid Sirloin

Animator Mark Christiansen has a serious thing for vintage Hanna Barbera.

I found a copy of his self-published children’s book, Sid Sirloin and his Friends, at House of Secrets this afternoon. It isn’t just a loving homage to early 60s HB, it’s so perfectly realized its practically from an alternate Saturday morning universe. The 32 page full color soft cover book was “printed in the U.S.A. at the Warner Bros. Copy Center” (so it says in the small print in the front of the book). I found it highly enjoyable. I’d love to tell you where you can buy it (other than at House of Secrets) or send you to Mark’s website — unfortunately the URL listed on the back cover doesn’t go anywhere. Perhaps Mark will drop a note and tell us more about this project in the comments below.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

No on Prop 8 Spot

Pixar story artist Adrian Molina created this after-hours animated piece to inform California voters about Proposition 8, a ballot initiative designed to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Swiftboat Willie

The Brew gets political again, but this time its truly animation-history related.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Wall Street Journal on "The Serious Side of Cartoons"

The Wall Street Journal has taken a look at some of the recent, non-comedic animation to hit theaters, including Bill Plympton's Idiots and Angels and Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir. Both Plympton and Folman are interviewed for the article talking about the state of animation and its commercial prospects in the United States, with Plympton providing his advice for young would-be animators ("Make them short -- under six minutes; make them cheap; and make them funny").

Briefly: Ratings Reports for CN, Adult Swim, and Nick; Changzhou Int'l Animation Fest

* Turner Broadcasting and Nickelodeon have issued press releases trumpeting their recent ratings triumphs:
Cartoon Network Scores Double-Digit Third Quarter Prime Time Ratings Growth
Adult Swim Adds Third Quarter '08 as #1 Basic Cable Network for Adults
Nickelodeon Lands 54 Straight Quarters as Top Total Day Network for Kids

* At the 2008 China (Changzhou) International Animation Festival, the deputy director of China's International Cultural Exchange Center stated that China's animation industry has developed its technology and resources rapidly, "but what we lack most is the power of imagination and innovation." [China Daily]


Craig Byrne over at has word from the producers of both 'Smallville' and the newly announced 'The Graysons'.

Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders wrote to assure fans that the Batman family prequel show is not being positioned as a replacement for the Superman prequel show. In fact, fans shouldn't even presume that this is the last season of 'Smallville'.

Here is their message, thanks to

Dear Smallville fans,

As news and rumors swirl around the development of 'The Graysons' for the CW, we have every intention of letting you, our fans, be the first to know the reality. Never have we been so committed to the continuing success of 'Smallville' as we are to seasons 8 and 9. While we are extremely excited to be working hand-in-hand with Wonderland, Warner Bros. and the CW to create the origin story of Dick Grayson, it has never been intended as a replacement for Smallville, as is speculated in some media. The cast, crew, writers and producers are all working full-steam ahead on a story-line for Clark that allows for seasons of further trials and adventures for our favorite hero. As always, we all have you to thank for achieving eight years of this amazing show that Al and Miles created, and we're looking far beyond!

Brian Peterson & Kelly Souders

New Watchmen Footage Screened!

Warner Bros. just unveiled a first look at Watchmen to an eager audience at their studio lot in West Hollywood. Director Zack Snyder joined costume designer Michael Wilkinson and Production Designer Alex McDowell for the event, showing off the first 12 minutes and a few subsequent scenes, totaling nearly a half hour of brand-new footage.

Opening with stylish black-on-yellow production logos, the shot begins on the classic smiley face button-pinned to a man selling newspapers on the street. Tracking immediately upward, we're taken inside Edward Blake's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) apartment. Just as in the first panels of the original comic book, we see the Comedian sitting at home alone in the final moments of his life. The scene (and nearly every shot showcased) is jam-packed with hidden references. On the wall is a '50's style pin-up of Sally Jupiter (Carla Gugino) and on the television we see a pundit-style press show with footage of Richard Nixon giving a Presidential speech. Discussions are held about a "Doomsday Clock" and ongoing tensions with Russia. Here, Doctor Manhattan (Billy Crudup) is introduced as America's best defense in the Cold War.

Coming back to Blake's apartment, we find him changing the channel to a film that plays the song "Unforgettable." The song continues to play throughout the scene as a masked assailant breaks in the front door and fights with Blake. The fight is much longer than in the comic and includes a number of Snyder's signature slow-motion shots.

The fight ends with Blake losing and blood dripping from his chin onto his own smiley face button. He's thrown back, crashing through the window and falling to the pavement below. The button falls in slow-motion, landing by his side before being surrounded by a pool of blood from his dead body.

Cue Bob Dylan's "The Times, They Are A'Changin'" as we enter the opening credits, beginning with a shot of the 50's-style Minute Men taking a group photo. There's a lot of great bits against Dylan's words, all captured in an almost-still kind of slow-motion. We're taken through the whole history of superheroes in this world with many shots representing an alternate take on real-life historical events; Doctor Manhattan shakes hands with President Kennedy (using actual footage) and we then see his assassination by the Comedian (standing on the grassy knoll). Lesbian superheroine Silhouette kisses a nurse at the end of World War II (parodying the LIFE magazine photo) and then a shot of her subsequent murder. Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) stands outside Studio 54. The Enola Gay flies past, painted with the image of Sally Jupiter. Andy Warhol (with Truman Capote) shows off a painting of Nite Owl. Doctor Manhattan stands on the moon, filming the first astronauts. Sally Jupiter's retirement party is framed like DaVinci's "The Last Supper."

The scene ends with a new wave of superheroes taking the same shot the credits begin with, 30 years later and then pulls out to reveal a store window filled with televisions and the spraypainted: "WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?" in red across the glass. A molotov cocktail is thrown through the window and the scene erupts in flames.

The next scene showcased had Doctor Manhattan sitting on Mars, looking at a photograph and speaking in an inner monologue, remembering (with flashbacks) the events of his life that led to this particular moment. We see him in an amusement park in 1959 with his girlfriend, Janey. We see an accident that happens in his laboratory that leads to him becoming all-powerful, returning as a blue, glowing God-like force. We see him being drafted by the government and asked to step in to end the Vietnam war. We see him using his powers to obliterate tanks, villages and people. We learn that he cheated on his wife with the second Silk Spectre, Laurie (Malin Akerman) and, wanting to escape humanity, has traveled to Mars where he meditates in the desert. Floating above the ground with his legs crossed, Dr. Manhattan calls forth an enormous clockwork structure from the sand, building a golden monument against the red desert.

The last scene featured Nite Owl (Stephen McHattie) and Laurie having just had sex aboard Nite Owl's ship. Snyder explained that the characters are set up so that their superheroics are somewhat fetishized and that both characters get a sexual thrill out of crime-fighting. The two decide to break into a maximum security prison and bust out Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) who has been arrested. The Owl ship lands at the prison and major fights ensue as Rorschach is freed from his cell and other prisoners riot. A midget runs from Rorschach, but he chases him into the bathroom. We see him cornered before the door shuts and, after a silence, there's a flush as Rorschach emerges. Water and blood spills from the crack at the bottom of the bathroom door.

Snyder and crew answered a number of questions and let slip a few interesting bits :

"The Black Freighter" cartoon runs about 20 minutes. It will be released on DVD with a "60 Minutes" style news program, looking back on the release of the original Nite Owl's memoirs, "Under the Hood" a decade later.

As he's stated in the past, the plan for "Black Freighter" is to have it cut in with the rest of the full movie for an ultimate DVD cut somewhere down the line.

The current running time is two hours and 45 minutes but that may change in either direction.

Snyder promised there would never be a sequel saying, "No chance of a sequel or prequel or 'Watchmen Babies' or anything like that."

Though the film was not shot in IMAX, there will be an IMAX release, "in some way."

Other songs that appear in the film include Nena's "99 Luftballons" and Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence." The latter song plays at Blake's funeral and required special permission from the artists to be used; permission that has only been granted once before (For The Graduate in 1967).

Watchmen hits theaters on March 6, 2009.

Via Aint It Cool News -

TRON 2 Is Crewing Up!

Beaks here...

Last week, Disney informed us that TRON 2 (or TR2N) is indeed heading into production. While this was reassuring after the maybe/maybe not announcement at Comic Con (that eye-popping teaser was essentially test footage), the lack of specificity (aside from director Joseph Kosinski and writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis) bothered me. If this is really happening, shouldn't there be some additional talent already attached?

Well, there is. And it's some seriously talented talent. Tonight, WATCHMEN and 300 costume designer Michael Wilkinson confirmed to me that TR2N is his next project (after TERMINATOR SALVATION). He couldn't offer up any precise detail on what he'll do with those iconic outfits, but it's comforting to know that he's approaching the film as a fan of the original. (He seemed impressed that I own a "Flynn's" t-shirt. Impressed or quietly sickened. Hard to tell when you barely know someone.)

Hopefully, we'll have more names to pass along over the next few weeks. We'll certainly have more on WB's WATCHMEN presentation, which was very, very convincing. That six-minute opening credit sequence scored to Bob Dylan's original recording of "The Times They Are a-Changin'" is one for the pantheon. I do believe Zack Snyder's got the goods, folks.

And on another note...

Jon Favreau Chats About Iron Man 2

On Wednesday, Iron Man and Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau participated in a live chat at the Los Angeles Times. While you can read the entire transcript there still, we've pulled out Favreau's answers to the questions that cover the sequel:

We're playing with who the villain should be and what we should incorporate from the comic book. And how it will lead into the Avengers.

I'm working with Justin a writer. He's writing the first draft of the script. I'm working with a story board artist. As well as designing the costumes for good guys and bad guys.

I think its important for all filmmakers working for Marvel to collaborate, so there is a consistency in the films, so, yes, they should keep in touch. I had not been in touch really with Louis during"Hulk" and I think that would have been helpful. I hope to be in contact with directors in the future.

No Dresden, but Marty and Elayne would make good supervillians.

Mandarin is still an important figure in the Iron Man universe. We have an interesting take on him that allows us to incorporate the whole pantheon of villains. The whole 10 Rings thing in IM 1 was a good tease for it.

The sequel is shaping up to incorporate Tony's vision for the future. What happens after he says "I am Iron Man?"

I focus mostly on story and character. I put a great value on emotion, humor and natural dialogue. The effects are fun to explore in original ways, but without a strong story, they mean nothing.

An earlier answer that scrambled: Now that Marvel is making its own movies, every movie has to fit into the Marvel universe. the Avengers incorporates not just Iron Man, but Thor, possibly the Hulk and traditionally Captain America as well. As it is, it's scheduled, Thor will come out the same summer as "Iron Man 2" and Captain America will come out a few months before Avengers. All the films have to come together to create a consistent universe.That's very important to everyone involved.

Robert brought him to life "for real." I found a guy that embodied enough of the qualities of Tony Stark to imbue him with an emotional reality. Fergus and Ostby and Markum and Holloway added much to the equation as writers as well.

Happy Hogan can no longer be a wall flower. I must marry Pepper someday. And let's not rule out the Freak! I have tremendous leverage to make such demands! Stay tuned.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is important to the franchise, and what is S.H.I.E.L.D. without Fury?

The only other comic character I would do is Groo.

The "connection" you ask about relates directly to the Mythic "rise of the hero" or hero's journey. The character must grow or change over the course of the film. If not, the movie goes emotionally flat and relies on tittilation.

We need War Machine. Agreed. Shoulder cannons and all.

Stark has issues with booze. That's part of who he is. I don't think we'll ever do the Leaving Las Vegas version, but it will be dealt with.

The date is daunting. We are making much faster progress than the first time around and have much less to design and fewer casting issues. I am confident that 2010 is achievable if we continue working together as we have for tha past few months. It has to be great, though. It has to be great.

My seven year old son said Iron Man was the second best movie of the year. #1 was Panda.

The new Fraction books are pretty great. We flew him out to LA to discuss story. He's a great comic writer. Also, love Adi's art. He will work on the movie's designs.

There's always room for improv on my sets. I set up multiple cameras and let them rip.

I think we need some version of "classic villains" in these movies. Many don't hold up well to time and to the big screen, but their essence should inspire the characters.

Female villain... Now there's an interesting notion.

Tough to actually shoot in IMAX when you have a CG hero much of the time. The effects becaome very expensive and may not look as good in the higher resolution. Worked very well for The Dark Knight, though.

Iron Man is indeed a celebrity. He announced who he was and we have now officially departed from the standard secret ID superhero. Tony was already famous before the announcement. What would really happen if this went down? Fun to explore.

Early Details On "300" Sequel

Director Zack Snyder has talked with IESB.Net a little more about his prequel/sequel to "300" and revealed a little of the storyline.

The action will take place between the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Plataea, the battle that narrator Dilios is at while re-telling the story of King Leonidas and the mighty Spartans to a new group of warriors at the end of the first film.

Frank Miller is writing and drawing the graphic novel that the second film will be based on. Upon completion of the book they will start writing a script for the movie based on it.

Snyder adds he won't have any input into the work as he wants it to be a creation entirely of Miller's.

Breaking: Genius Party Beyond added to Waterloo Festival

Studio 4°C’s Genius Party Beyond has just been confirmed as one of the many delectable films on the menu at this years Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema. This is an incredible treat for fans of the studio who brought us Tekkon Kinkreet and for animation enthusiasts alike as the anthology film has seen very few screenings on North American shores.

Festival details, further film listings, and more will be available soon on the official Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema site!

Powerpuff Girls Anniversary collection DVD in January

DVDActive brings more details on the upcoming Powerpuff Girls 10th Anniversary collection dvd set due out on the 20th January, 2009. The 6-disc collection will include all 78 episodes, audio commentaries, a documentary on creator Craig McCracken, a music video, and more.

Fraggle Rock Complete Series Collection in November

DVDTimes reports that Lionsgate Home Entertainment and HIT Entertainment have announced the release of Fraggle Rock Complete Series Collection dvd on November 04th 2008. This 20-disc collection features all 96 episodes from four seasons and includes over two hours of never-before-seen bonus features, Never-before released episodes, an all-new Fraggle Rock short, an original Fraggle Rock illustration poster, and more in a custom premium, collectible packaging.

Cartoon Net Debuts Clone Wars, Secret Saturdays

It’s time to return to a galaxy far, far away as Cartoon Network begins airing the eagerly awaited CG-animated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Premiering Friday, Oct. 3. at 9 p.m., the show continues the CG adventure introduced to fans in movie theaters over the summer. The premiere of the hour-long series will anchor Cartoon Network’s new fantasy, action and adventure night featuring the new animated series The Secret Saturdays, which debuts at 8 p.m., and new episodes of Ben 10: Alien Force, beginning Oct. 10 immediately following Clone Wars.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
chronicles the adventures of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Ahsoka Tano and other favorite characters as they struggle against the dark side during the divisive Clone Wars. Dwindling numbers of Jedi fight to maintain freedom and restore peace to the galaxy, pitting their army of genetically engineered clones against the seemingly never-ending droid army. Swept into the turmoil of war, our heroes must battle the evil Count Dooku, his assassin, Asajj Ventress, their master, Darth Sidious, the mechanical General Grievous and a rogue’s gallery of never-before-seen villains. Each week will offer a new story brought to the screen by supervising director Dave Filoni and exec producer George Lucas. Lucasfilm Animation in Singapore has produced more than 30 episodes of the show.

The comedy-action series
The Secret Saturdays
from Porchlight Ent. and creator Jay Stephens revolves around a family of world-saving adventure scientists. Doc, Drew and Zak Saturday live in a hidden base and are part of a network of scientists who protect against all the underlying evil in the world. Traveling from the Gobi Desert to the Marianas Trench, they explore ancient temples and bottomless caves and tangle with twisted villains, including the masked madman V.V. Argost and his half-human/half-giant spider.

Scooby Faces Goblin King on Cartoon Net

Following its late-September home video launch, the animated movie Scooby-Doo & The Goblin King for will make its television debut on Cartoon Network on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. The feature boasts a star-studded voice cast that includes Heroes star Hayden Panettiere, Tonight Show host Jay Leno, screen icon Lauren Bacall, cartoon vet Tim Curry and Seinfeld favorite Wayne Knight.

Scooby-Doo & The Goblin King has Shaggy and Scooby embarking on a magic quest to save the Mystery Inc. gang from the spell of a wicked warlock. A second-rate carnival magician named the Amazing Krudsky (Knight) hatches a plot to turn everyone into horrible Halloween monsters after he steals the light magic from Princess Fairy Willow (Panettiere). Scooby and Shaggy board the Grim Reaper Railroad, bound for the fantastic world of Halloween land, to retrieve the powerful Goblin scepter from the Goblin King (Curry) before Krudsky can bring his diabolical plan to fruition. Along the way, the meddling kids encounter such enchanting creatures as the infamous Headless Horseman, the helpful Jack O’Lantern and a frisky flying broomstick. See the trailer for the movie on AniMagTV.

Animax Launches Canuck Script Contest

Los Angeles-based Animax Ent. is celebrating the opening of its new studio in Toronto with a script-writing contest for Canadians. The Animax Canucks Cartoon Script Contest is open to all Canadian citizens (living in Canada or elsewhere), and is accepting seven-minute cartoon script entries now through Nov. 31. Contestants can enter online at

Co-founded by former SCTV star Dave Thomas, Animax has expanded its operations into Toronto, where producer Patricia Burns will head production. Thomas recently sold the prime-time animated series Bob & Doug to Canwest Global. The series is based on the Bob and Doug McKenzie characters created by Thomas and Rich Moranis for SCTV and the cult-favorite movie Strange Brew, and will premiere in January of 2009.

“Some of the best writers in television history have come from Canada,” says Thomas. “So I thought, why not focus on comedy from my home? We want to find the best animation comedians, give them some prize money, an option and a beer!”

Thomas and members of his Animax team will judge entries, along with noted agents, producers, writers and artists from both Canada and the U.S. Prizes will include the “Top Banana,” a development option with Animax Ent. worth $2,500 (Canadian) and a beer. Second- and third-place winners will receive $1,500 and $1,000, respectively.

The script contest is open to all styles of writing, but Animax is particularly looking for concepts that target the tween, preschool and adult demographics. Scripts must be original and no longer than 10 pages in length.

Animation studio fined $36,000 for software piracy

Fatkat Animation Studios, which has worked on such TV series as Family Guy and Caillou, has been hit with a $36,000 fine for software privacy under the Canadian Copyright Act.

Based in Miramichi, New Brunswick, the commercial animation and graphics studio was one of five companies fined following an investigation by the Business Software Alliance.

The industry group investigates alleged "underlicensing" of software, a type of copyright infringement in which one copy of software is used to install a program on several computers without proper permission.

Fatkat, which has about 100 employees, ran unlicensed copies of Microsoft and Autodesk programs, according to internal audits. The studio has worked with such commercial clients as Pepsi, Yahoo and Heritage Gas.

The animation studio's infringement was caused by an oversight, Fatkat Animation founder Gene Fowler told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday.

"Somebody that wasn't very experienced was perhaps purchasing or installing the software, and they got themselves in the position where they weren't licensed properly. It does happen," Fowler said Wednesday. "Organizations need to be careful to make sure that they do have somebody in their company that understands how to purchase licensing, how to put some policies and procedures in place that you're only copying as many copies of that software as you know you have proof of licensing for."

Business Software Alliance spokeswoman Diane Piquette said that the rate of software piracy rates in Atlantic Canada is higher than elsewhere in the country.

"We find that most of the provinces that don't have an awful lot of software companies, and software development being done, have a bit of a higher piracy rate," she said. "All of Atlantic Canada tended to be a little bit higher because of that."

According to Piquette, over 30% of Canadian businesses lack proper licensing for their software. The alliance investigates about 350 cases of software piracy annually.

"Family Guy" sex and death don't mix in Australia

Australia's Foxtel pay TV network has been raked over the coals for a Family Guy episode in which the Grim Reaper does the nasty with a dead girl.

Death Is A Bitch was rated PG when it aired on Foxtel last year. However, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that the 2000 episode should have been rated M.

As the episode featured more sexual references and violence than found in the mild level permitted in PG programs, Foxtel violated the subscription television code of conduct, the broadcasting watchdog ruled.

The ACMA launched an investigation after a viewer complained about a scene in which the character Death has sex with a dead girl in a car's back seat.

"ACMA considers that while younger children may not understand the reference, older children under the age of 15 years may do so,"' the authority said. "And while the sexual activity depicted is considered to be discreetly implied by the animated depiction, necrophilia, even by way of an animated reference, contains an inherent impact higher than mild."

The authority dismissed Foxtel's contention argument that the PG rating could be allowed because the episode was too unreal to be taken seriously.

Foxtel will reclassify the episode as M for future airings. It will also review the classification of all other Family Guy episodes.

Dan Santat Details Final Episodes of "The Replacements"

Dan Santat has posted an entry on his weblog detailing the wrap party for Disney's The Replacements, which just finished production of its final season and has 18 episodes left to air. Santat describes how the series went from concept to pilot, posts photos of the wrap party, and says that the final episode will reveal the identity of an as-yet unseen character on the show.

Mayajaal Entertainment to Release First Flash Animated Feature Film reports that Mayajaal Entertainment of Chennai, India, will soon release Jai Vigneshwar, the first full-length film animated entirely with Adobe Flash. The movie of tales of Lord Ganesha will be released on Thursday, October 2, 2008, in India on 30 digital screens in English, with Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu versions to follow. According to Mayajaal CEO Udeep B, using Flash over traditional hand-drawn techniques, "makes the process simpler and more effective."

Do The Critics Have A Bad Feeling About The Cartoon Network’s Tartakovsky-Free STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS?

I’ve got a bad feeling about “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” the new TV series premiering tonight on The Cartoon Network. It’s from the same creative team that brought us August’s “Clone Wars” movie, which garnered 96% negative reviews among “top critics” surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes – and 100% negative reviews from everybody I’ve talked to about it. (The Tomatoes survey would have been 100% negative if not for the notice authored by the Arizona Republic’s Kerry Lengel, who appraised the movie as “surprisingly unterrible.”)

The screeners for the series seem to have gone out to far fewer media outlets than did screening passes for the movie, and the few critics who have seen the TV version of “Clone Wars” seem to be kinder to the two episodes airing tonight. Did LucasFilm really choose inferior episodes for the movie – which people had to drive down to a cinema to pay for – or are TV critics just far, far less discriminating than their movie counterparts?

Entertainment Weekly says:

Older Star Wars fans loathed The Clone Wars, George Lucas' movie 'toon about prequel-era Obi-Wan and Anakin. At least the TV spin-off is decent — definitely more suspenseful and character-centric than the bombastic pilot flick. Its target audience — kids — will dig it. And middle-aged haters will hate it a little less. …

The Los Angeles Times says:

I'm one of those who thinks that with regards to the "Star Wars" saga, it's all been mostly downhill since "The Empire Strikes Back," except, of course, Carrie Fisher in slave gear for "Return of the Jedi." … There may come a day when reality is perfectly counterfeited by computers, but here in the early 21st century, animators have yet to conquer the human problem: digitally rendered people look creepy. …

The Chicago Tribune says:

… little about "Clone Wars" is involving. … Complexity is fine, but when the plot is Byzantine and the characters lack all depth, the result is either irritation or boredom. The overall blandness means it's hard to care for whomever is blowing stuff up on the screen. The clone armies are led by Jedi such as Anakin Skywalker, who's a bit of a pill and who, as anyone who's seen the "Star Wars" films knows, later turns into Darth Vader. The Jedi themselves are working for Chancellor Palpatine, who is nobody's idea of an enlightened leader. So, it's a robot army versus clones working for a creepy despot. Go, um, team?

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:

The computer-animated movie "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" was a dud at the box office (less than $40 million in domestic gross) and was lambasted by critics, but the Cartoon Network series of the same name may fare better. The first two half-hour episodes are less raucous and seemingly more adult than the film. There's more attention to character development; Jabba the Hutt's flamboyant uncle isn't anywhere to be found. …

The Boston Herald says:

… The wise-cracking battle ’droids - the intergalactic Larry, Moe and Curley - are in abundance but appear even more useless and less amusing than in the films. … The stylized animation ranges from impressive in the case of anything mechanical to waxy and lifeless in the case of anything human. Faces appear stiff and expressionless, which might make Hayden Christensen fans feel at home with yet another wooden Anakin. … still doesn’t redeem Lucas’ attempted do-over and the Greedo-shoots-first syndrome, but it’s certainly no “Star Wars Holiday Special.”

The Hollywood Reporter says:

… Chances are if you liked "Star Wars," you'll enjoy the TV series. When it comes to extending the franchise and attracting a new generation of "Star Wars" fans, the force is definitely with George Lucas. …

Variety says:

… the half-hour episodes are so jam-packed with action the clunky dialogue flies by less obtrusively, and the irritating characters have less time to annoy. … Of course, technical wizardry has never been a problem for series steward George Lucas. His shortcomings rather have to do with a too-casual acquaintance with the written word, and a penchant for wince-inducing comedy aimed at kids. Those drawbacks persist …

9 p.m. Friday. The Cartoon Network.

(Thanks Aint It Cool News)

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