Wednesday, October 29, 2008

News - 10/29/08...

Geffen Exits DreamWorks Animation Board

During Tuesday’s quarterly earnings conference call, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg announced that DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen has stepped down from the DreamWorks Animation board. Katzenberg referred to Geffen as “the guardian of DreamWorks Animation” and noted that he will continue to serve as a trusted advisor to the company.

“As one of DreamWorks’ original founders, David’s vision for, and commitment to, the company has been absolutely vital throughout its 14-year history,” Katzenberg commented. “Without him, there would be no DreamWorks Animation. He leaves his post as a director with the entire company’s deepest gratitude. On a personal note, I’d like to thank David—always a mentor and my best friend—for his incredible wisdom, leadership and guidance.”

DreamWorks Animation’s earnings for the quarter ended Sept. 30 were down slightly from the same quarter last year. The company reported total revenue of $151.5 million and net income of $37.4 million, compared to revenue of $160.8 million and net income of $47.0 million for the same period in 2007. The animated hit Kung Fu Panda, which earned $415 million worldwide, was the biggest contributor to revenue, bringing in approximately $63.3 million, primarily from international box office receipts. The Company's 2007 summer blockbuster, Shrek the Third, contributed approximately $32.5 million, driven primarily by international pay television, and the fall 2007 release Bee Movie kicked in roughly $27.3 million, mostly from domestic pay television.

Looking forward, Katzenberg expressed excitement over the March 27, 2009 release of Monsters Vs. Aliens, which will be DreamWorks Animation’s first stereoscopic 3-D release. He remarked, “We remain confident that there will be an adequate number of 3-D capable screens in the marketplace for Monsters Vs. Aliens to serve as a valuable proof of concept for the industry as a whole.”

More immediately, DreamWorks Animation has last year’s holiday TV special, Shrek the Halls, coming to DVD on Nov. 4. The half-hour special will also repeat on ABC next month. The sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa hits theaters on Nov. 7, and Kung Fu Panda arrives on DVD and Blu-ray along with the 22-minute companion movie Secrets of the Furious Five on Sunday, Nov. 9. Shrek the Musical will make its Broadway debut on Dec. 14.

Downey to Suit Up for Avengers

Robert Downey Jr. is committed to being billionaire genius Tony Stark and his iron-clad alter-ego for years to come. Daily Variety reports that the Oscar-nominated actor will not only return for Iron Man 2, but has also signed on Marvel Studio’s The Avengers and a third Iron Man installment.

The trade also reports that, in addition to directing Iron Man 2, filmmaker Jon Favreau will exec produce The Avengers. A superhero mash-up featuring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk and other Marvel comic-book staples, The Avengers is slated for release on July 15, 2011.

Pegged for May 7, 2010, Iron Man 2 will see Gwyneth Paltrow reprise the role of Stark's assistant and love interest, Pepper Potts. However, Terrence Howard has been replaced by Don Cheadle in the role of Jim Rhodes, a character that will play a bigger role in the sequel. Howard recently told NPR that he was blindsided by the news and denied that he clashed with Marvel Studios over money.

Marvel is financing and producing both Iron Man sequels and The Avengers, which will all be distributed by Paramount. Iron Man opened over the summer and raked in roughly $578 million worldwide, strengthening Marvel’s resolve to bring its comic properties to the screen in a big way.

Nixon to Develop Comedies for Calon TV

Alan Nixon, former head of entertainment at Channel 5, has joined U.K. animation shop Calon TV to develop the company’s comedy programming. Having worked with many of Britain’s top comedy stars, including Graham Norton and Simon Pegg, Nixon will serve as development executive for comedy at the Cardiff-based company behind such popular animated children’s programs as Fireman Sam, SuperTed and Hanna’s Helpline.

Nixon’s main role will be to develop a new comedy for ITV1, which recently award Calon TV a development grant to create a new scripted comedy using Welsh talent. Calon is already working on an idea for a children’s comedy puppet show for the BBC and comedy shows for radio.

As the controller of entertainment at Channel 5 since its launch in 1997, Nixon helped launch the career of talk-show sensation Graham Norton, resurrected the game show It’s A Knockout, produced the surreal Channel 4 comedy series Absolutely Fabulous and won a Welsh BAFTA for the ITV comedy series Barry Welsh, starring John Sparkes.

Crunchyroll Gets Toei Anime Titles

Leading anime producer Toei Animation Co. Ltd. has partnered with online media distribution outlet Crunchyroll to provide subscription-based and download-to-own streams of Digimon Adventure 02, Fist of the North Star, Pretty Cure and Slam Dunk. The titles are now available for $1.99 each at

“A deal with abovementioned titles with Toei Animation is fantastic for Crunchyroll and the anime industry in the U.S. and international markets,” says Crunchyroll CEO Kun Gao. “It is great validation to have one of the oldest, largest Japanese animation studios using our platform to bring anime to a much larger audience and monetize through new digital channels.”

Digimon Adventure 02 takes place three years after the last adventure of Tai and his friends. New enemy Digimon Kaise, appears in the Digital World and is out use his considerable powers to control all Digimon. The crisis gives rise to a new generation of hero, the Veemon, which is able to combine with DigiMental to create a new type of Digimon.

Fist of the North Star is set in a time when war has turned the world into a nuclear wasteland. The oceans have dried up, the land is scorched and the surviving humans have relapsed into a violent society. In this world of mayhem, a drifter in possession of a lethal fighting style known as the Divine Fist of the North Star wanders the arid desert seeking to rescue his lover, Yuria.

Pretty Cure revolves around Nagisa and Honoka, eighth graders at the Verone Junior High School for girls, who encounter two mysterious creatures that came down from the sky one night. Named Mepple and Mipple, the creatures fled their homeland, known as the Field of Light, in order to escape an attack by the evil forces of Dotsuku Zone. They grant Nagisa and Honoka the power to transform into superheroes dubbed “Cure Black” and “Cure White,” who may be our planet’s only hope in battling the evil Dotsuku Zone.

Slam Dunk is a high-school drama about a young loser who goes out for the basketball team in hopes of winning the affection of a cute girl. In his quest for love, he sparks a rivalry with the team’s star rookie as they set out to win the championship.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., Crunchyroll is a leading online entertainment brand focused on Asian entertainment including anime, drama and music. The company’s distribution channel and partnership program delivers content to more than four million viewers worldwide. Crunchyroll is funded by the group Venrock. More information can be found at

Fresh Market Wrap:

Notes from the recent MIPCOM content confab in France

Who wants to buy and sell animated TV shows when the global economy is in the gutter and our retirement accounts will afford us a couple of Starbucks lattes, if we’re lucky? As it turns out, a lot of people do! Judging from the impeccably dressed Euro executives running around the Croisette and the optimistic talk from the sellers and buyers, the entertainment industry may be “recession-proof” after all.

According to ReedMidem, the organizing company behind MIPCOM, the 24th edition of the mart registered over 13,545 participants, up almost 2% from last year. There were 2,739 program registered buyers at the event, which was an increase of 8% over last year’s numbers. “We had record attendance and have some very important emerging markets [Russia and the Middle East],” noted ReedMidem TV director Paul Johnson. The two-day children’s market MIPCOM Junior did even better. There was a 23% increase in the number of unique viewings of programs and a 20% increase in participants.

Sure, the punishing U.S. dollar to euro exchange rate didn’t make life any easier for the American attendees (“What? I just paid $10 for a cup of coffee? Quelle horreur!”). But at least, we didn’t lose any of our bags and got to watch that awful M. Night Shyamalan movie on the plane back. Oh, and our hardworking advertising exec Sheri Shelton caught a glimpse of Adrian Grenier (Vinnie Chase on Entourage) at the Nice airport!

The best part of the trip was that we were able to talk to a lot of animation TV professionals who showed us their latest projects and teased us about their globe-shattering news (“Yeah, a major TV broadcaster is VERY interested, but we can’t talk about it right now But we’ll ping you about it later, dude!”). Here are some of the highlights of these jam-packed show-and-tell sessions:

Introducing a New Robot-Boy
It’s always a great deal of excitement in the air when two heavyweight players in the TV and feature entertainment world join forces. That was certainly the case with Trooper Tom, a fantastic-looking CG-animated kids’ series led by Richard Taylor and Martin Baynton of New Zealand’s famous Weta Workshop (Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jane and the Dragon) and Keith Chapman (Bob the Builder, Fifi the Flowertots). Targeting six to nine-year-olds, the 26 x 22 series centers on the adventures of a half-human, half-robot boy who fights the bad guys in a futuristic world.

“It’s nice to go after an older TV viewing audience [than Jane and the Dragon],” says the five-time Oscar-winning Taylor. “We’re aiming for a very cinematic look, with high production values and beautiful lighting. You can see the influence of sci-fi classics such as Blade Runner and Lost in Space, as well as family favorites like Pinocchio and even Shakespearean tales in the series. Tom and his crew also use numerous space vehicles that should appeal to our target audience.”

Chapman, who also brought Flot and Jet, a new animated comedy for six to nine-year-olds to the market, says he’s excited to work on a show with such epic qualities. “Tom is a deeply flawed character—an android who is infused with human DNA—he’s got the hopes and dreams of a boy, with a thirst for adventure. But he also has an Achilles’ heel—his fiber-optic hair changes color when he experiences different emotions, so he’s constantly trying to control his emotions.”

Both Chapman and Taylor promise not to water down their vision to fit the small screen’s status quo. “We’ve seen that young boys are used to seeing more gritty fare such as Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk on the big screen, so that’s why they’re turning away from TV,” notes Chapman. “We want them to watch our show with their dads—we’re not going to shy away from giving them truly gripping, dramatic content.”

A New Mexican Sensation
We were happy to meet up with Ricardo Duprat, CEO of Mexico City’s Santa Domingo Animation, who was introducing his hot new project Brijes. Presented first as an animated feature and, then, a TV series, Duprat’s creation is a time-travel adventure story which centers on a brave 13-year-old boy names Freddy who visits different historic periods and mythical placesk guided by magical spirit animals—the Brijes (pronounced Bree-hes). Duprat tells us that his feature will be ready for theaerical release in the first quarter of 2010 and the TV show will be available in the fall of that same year. From what we saw, the project has the potential to hit the same commercial heights as Pokemon and Yi-Gi-Oh! Look for a more in-depth look at the project in the February issue of Animag.

A Sassy 21st Century Ragdoll
CBeebies acquired a new CG-animated preschool series from the folks at U.k.-based VGI Entertainment (Orsum Island, Blanche). The 26 x 11-minute Everything’s Rosie centers on the world of a 21st century rag doll who lives in a colorful playhouse with her friends and learns about the meaning of friendship. The show will be produced by VGI Entertainment’s managing directors Chris Blackburn and Vickie Corner and will join CBeebies’ Discover and Do block in 2010. Once you see a clip of the bright, High-Def world of Rosie, you’ll have a hard time forgetting about “this new girl in town!” (Thank you, Natalie Llewellyn for introducing us to this cool new character.)

Dylan Thomas Comes to Toon Town
If you associate Christmas with beautifully animated 2D TV specials such as The Snowman, you’ll be happy to know that the folks at Welsh broadcaster S4C and Parthenon have joined forces to offer a new project based on Dylan Thomas’ beloved A Child’s Christmas in Wales. A co-production between Brave New World and Cwmni Da, the hand-drawn special is directed by Dave Unwin (Father Christmas, The Wind in the Willows) and produced by Catrin Unwin (Dreams and Desires). Co-producer Michael Jeffrey also composed the film’s musical score.

A Matter of Taste
It’s always fun to meet up with Mary Bradin (development & acquisition) and Frank Falcone (creative director) of Toronto’s Guru Studio. They showed us some of the cool projects they have in development. The first one is The Buds, a 40 X 5-minute package aBoldimed at preschoolers, which centers on five very original-looking taste buds. Yes, they get to explore the amazing world of tastes around us, while teaching kids about the values of friendship and teamwork—we can’t wait for the episode the gang finds about the addictive powers of chocolate. The team at Guru are also pitching a great-looking cut-out animation series called Justin Time, about a young boy who has fantastic adventures in new places and cultures, accompanied by a little puzzle piece called Wiki. Keep up the awesome work, guys!

Junior Knight
Cedric Petitpas of French studio Gaumont-Alphanim (Galactik Football, Hairy Scary, RobotBoy) took the time to walk us through his company’s vast catalog of new toons. Among the numerous shows in various stage of development is Gawayn, a project that stands out for its unique visual style and the fact that it’s developed and distributed with the support of the MEDIA Program of the European Union. The 52 x 13-minute series chronicles the adventures of an eager ten-year-old knight-in-training, who along with his mentor, the slightly inept knight Sir Roderick, sets out to find the magic crystal of Gawayn in order to save the lovely Princess Gwendolyn from an evil spell. We see the potential for lots of goofy, Crusader Rabbit-type misadventures for the medieval team.

Fun and Fuzzy Creatures from Taiwan
We were fortunate enough to meet with Richard Chou, managing director of Taiwan-based Vision Digital Group and Jason Lee, CEO of Coolframes Digiworks. They were happy to share some of the great new animated projects the creative team Coolframes has been working on in recent months. One of the CG-animated preschool shows they were presenting at MIPCOM was a show called Choobies, a 52 x 5-minute preschool toon slated for 2010. The project has already won an impressive slate of licensing awards, and it’s clear to see why. The six major characters (MiMi, Dake, Ida, Lucky, Patty and Bae) are easy-to-love fuzzy creatures who have a heck of a time living the vida loca in a place called Choobie Land. Give these guys a few years, and they’ll be taking over the world.

Return to Toyland
While Chorion Silver Lining was making a big splash with its long-anticipated CG-animated series Olivia at MIPCOM (see the article in our November print issue), the company’s exec VP Amory Millard and exec producer Kurt Mueller gave us a special sneak peek at the new incarnation of Noddy in Toyland. The 52 X 11-minute series is a co-production with Ireland’s Brown Bag Films (Wobblyland, Give Up Yer Aul Sins). Enid Blyton’s Noddy was first introduced to children back in 1949, and the property has enjoyed a lasting popularity in over 40 languages—over three million books are sold globally every year. The new CG-animated production looks really fantastic. “The world of Noddy has been expanded, and kids will get to see new characters such as pirates and mermaids,” says Mueller. “The famous Enchanged Woods has also been brightly rendered in the series. A lot of the team at Brown Bag grew up with Noddy, so for them, it’s been a special labor of love to bring the character to life again.” The show is slated to debut on Channel Five in the U.K. this spring.

Mixing and Matching the Classics
Raquel Benitez and Carmen Llanos, the always-charming principles of Toronto-based Comet Entertainment were also having a grand old time on the Riviera. In recent weeks, we reported on how they’re working hard to deliver their 2009 movie Around the World in 80 Days Free!, which is a joint venture with Spanish company SOMUGA. Global TV titan Freemantle Entertainment also signed a deal with them to distribute their funny, adult Flash-animated series Limo Guy. They told us over coffee one morning that their Fantastic Tales anthology animated series is also taking off in a big way. “These are 2D/3D 75-minute featurettes that blend together all kinds of classic characters from popular novels by H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Vernes, etc.,” says Benitez. “So you have Leonardo Da Vinci, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde and Dr. Watson interact in one, and then, Blackbeard the pirate and Peter Pan in another. It’s going to be lots of fun!” Judging by the big smile on her face, we don’t doubt it at all!

Shatner Does Santa
We always kind of knew that William Shatner (a.k.a. Captain Kirk) would be a great Santa Claus! Now, thanks to the team at Cookie Jar, we’re able to hear the famous actor voice St. Nick in the new CG-animated holiday special You’ve Gotta Catch Santa. Targetting “kids one to 93,” the toon finds12-year-old Trevor who is challenged by his best friend to catch Santa Claus and finds himself battling one of Santa’s enemies, an ice monster called LeFreeze! A Cookie Jar and Enemes co-production, the holiday toon will premiere on Teletoon (Canada) this holiday season. Ann Austen, Cookie Jar’s senior VP of development and TV and video sales, kindly walked us through the studio’s MIPCOM slate, which also included Metajets, Noonbory & the Super 7 and new episodes of former DIC titles Horseland, Sushi Pack, Dino Squad and Strawberry Shortcake. With nearly 6,000 half-hour animated episodes, Cookie Jar is now one of the biggest indie toon shops and home to a large collection of recognizable brands.

Northern Lights
Toronto’s 9 Story Entertainment was also on hand, showing off a cool slate of new shows. We recently reported on the studio’s new animated series based on Mark Inkpen’s delightful Wibbly Pig series. According to studio chief Vince Commisso, they completed broadcast deals with TVO and Knowledge Network. The preschool series is commissioned by Cbeebies and is a joint project with U.K.’s Wish Films and will be distributed by both 9Story and BBC Worldwide. Vince was also happy about Fugget About It, a 22-minute Teletoon/Detour pilot about a quick-tempered New York mobster adjusting to life in suburban Ontario! He assured us that the conservative changes and possible cutbacks outlined by the Canadian government will not affect the region’s thriving animation scene. Keep your eyes peeled for the shop’s innovative slate, which also includes the hilarious Almost Naked Animals, a toon about a bunch of “bottom-covered misfits,” co-produced by YTV.

Teen Angst with a Touch of Manga
We’ve come to expect great toons from the bright and bushy-tailed team at TV-Loonland, and this market was no different. They came on strong with Leon, their new CG-animated series about a sweet-tempered lion who is constantly outsmarted by his prey. The always stunning Justine Bannister, head of distribution and acquisition at the studio, said she was thrilled by the reception the show had been getting at the market. She was also quite thrilled with My Life Me, a new 52 x 11-minute series that seems very different from many of the studio’s previous productions. A joint venture with Carpe Diem, Teletoon, France 2 and Canal J, the 2D show has a strong manga influence and follows the daily life and adventures of a 13-year-old girl called Birch as she navigates the confusing social terrain of high school life and relationships. The show kind of feels like a lighter, animated version of that popular Claire Danes series My So-Called Life. Its tagline reads “How can you be yourself when you’re still finding out who you are?” Hmmm … we’re still trying to answer that one!

Breakthrough’s Bright Spots
The team at Canada’s Breakthrough Entertainment had a lot to celebrate after the market. Not only was their upcoming Jetix co-production Jimmy Two Shoes was the number one most viewed program at MIPCOM Junior, they were also doing quite well with their grown-up toon Producing Parker (featuring the voice of Kim Cattrall) and the third season of the hit show Atomic Betty (which was licensed to Cartoon Network Latin America and CiTV in the U.K). Managing partner and exec producer Kevin Gillis showed us a great clip from the studio’s upcoming new preschool toon My Big Big Friend. Produced in association with Brazil’s 2D Lab (in development with Treehouse, Canada), the charming series follows a shy boy named Yuri who has wild adventures with his make-believe blue elephant buddy, Golias. Animated with Toon Boom Harmony, the show has a soothing color palette and a genuine, sweet spirit which are the pre-requisites for quality preschool entertainment.

The Famous Mom Blues
With High School Musical 3 doing gangbusters in U.S. theaters this weekend, it’s not surprising to see animation producers venturing into the hugely profitable Miley Cyrus/HSM/teen and music combo. Greg Payne, chairman and director at Santa Barbara, Calif-based Foothill Entertainment chatted with us about one of his hot, new upcoming projects called My Momtourage and Me. “It’s a very L.A. story … as it focuses on a tween daughter of the most famous female pop star the world has ever known,” says Payne. “But the truth is that she wants to be just a normal girl with a normal mom!” This timely toon is created by famous Australian author and illustrator Kyla May, who is overseeing the series as well. We think Madonna’s agent will be calling Greg real soon!

The Coolness of Being Green
The team at Los Angeles-based BabyFirst TV were experiencing the market as a big content creators this year. CEO Guy Oranim and senior VP of programming Arik Kerman showed us two of their great new projects. The Greenies (26 X 5), is an easy-to-like show about three characters that teach the kids ways to help appreciate and protect our planet. The Flash-animated toon is aimed at four to nine-year-olds and was one of the finalists of the MIPCOM Junior Licensing Challenge. They also introduced Say Hello Around the World, a clever 39 X 3-minute toon which helps kids learn languages thanks to the efforts of its star, an adventurous mole named Max. “Since we started BabyFirst TV two years ago, we have specialized in creating programs that are safe for the youngest viewers,” says Oranim. “We have an internal team of educational experts, so parents can truly trust our content. We truly believe that in certain areas, kids can be much better agents of change.”

All the Right Notes
Buyers looking for something entirely different would be wise to contact the team at London’s Mighty ToonHeadz Entertainment. Founder Zak Vracevic grabbed us at the Carlton lobby and showed us a glimpse of his studio’s new project, titled Mighty Lil’ Spinnerz. It’s about a group of kids who find a magical gramaphone with special powers. Yes, they have to fight evil forces, but they also dig cool tunes and each episode will have guest voices and music from the world of rock/pop music. Oh, and the 52 x 22 show looks like something out of a great Gorillaz music video (with a blend of CG animation and custom shaders). Vracevic has a background in music, so you can see why his toon has such a big music-video feel to it.

20 Toons You’ll Be Reading About!
Here is the list of the top 20 most-screened programs at MIPCOM Junior:
1. Jimmy Two Shoes (Disney/Breakthrough Entertainment); U.K./Canada

2. Timmy Time (Aardman Animations); U.K.
3. Leon
(TV-Loonland); Germany
Amazing Spiez! (Marathon); France
Olivia (Chorion/Silver Lining); U.K.
Amber's Animals (Inspire GLG, Ltd.); U.K.
Beast in the Box (Awol); France
Alien Zoo (Carrere Group); France
Angelina Ballerina (HIT Entertainment); U.K.
Betty Banner
(Decode/House of Cool); Canada
Myo & Ga (Vooz Co., Ltd./Imira Entertainment); S. Korea/Spain
Dinosaur Train (The Jim Henson Company); U.S.A.
Action Dad (Toonzone Studios Inc.); U.S.A.
Gormiti (Marathon Group); France
90210 (CBS Paramount Int'l Television); U.S.A.
Aesop's Theater (Cake Distribution Ltd.); U.K.
The Garfield Show (Mediatoon); France
Frog & Friends (Telescreen BV); Netherlands
Kid Vs. Kat (Disney Television); U.K.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
(Warner Bros. Int'l TV Distribution); U.S.A.

Trashy animation wins at environmental film fest

"Garbage Angels," a whimsical animated film about objects in a dump that morph into animals, won the Canadian Short Form Award at the Planet in Focus Film Festival in Toronto.

Directed by Pierre M. Trudeau, the five-minute film -- without dialogue -- explores the unlikely social interactions of inanimated items.

Devoted to films about the environment, the Planet in Focus Film Festival ended Sunday with the presentation of awards in seven categories.

Receiving the award for Canadian feature-length movie was Michael Schmidt: Organic Hero or Bioterrorist, Norman Loft's documentary about an Ontario farmer who has fought for two decades for the right to sell unpasteurized milk.

Winning honorable mention in the Canadian long form category was The Last Nomads, by Toronto director Andrew Gregg. It follows Canadian author Ian Mackenzie as he studies the lives of the Penan, a Sarawak-based nomadic tribeh.

International winners included Eternal Mash, by Catherine Van Campen of the Netherlands, about Dutch horticulturist Ruurd Walrecht, who devoted his life to preserving the seeds of rare vegetables, and Paradise: Three Journeys in This World, by Finland's Elina Hirvonen, about young people from Mali who yearn to emigrate to Spain.

The Mark Haslam Award went to Felix Atencio-Gonzales' documentary Mama Coca: The Sacred Leaf, about a Quebec native elder who travels to Peru to find the source of the cocaine that is damaging his community.

Silent Snow, by Jan van den Berg of the Netherlands, won the International Short Form Award. It is about a small Inuit community on the Greenland coast that is being harmed by the poisoning of the food chain.

Horton, Ratatouille, WALL-E up for kids' BAFTA

Three animated movies are among the four nominees for best feature film at this year's EA British Academy Children's Awards, also known as the Children's BAFTAs.

The awards represent the best in children's productions in film, TV and online.

Up for best feature film are Horton Hears A Who!, Ratatouille and WALL•E, as well as live-action contender Stardust.

This year's awards will be announced at a November 30 ceremony in London hosted by Keith Chegwin.

In the Animation category, the nominees are Charlie and Lola Autumn Special (Claudia Lloyd and Kitty Taylor; Tiger Aspect Productions/CBeebies), Eliot Kid (Samuel Kaminka, Didier Julia and Gilles Cazaux; Samka & Safari de Ville/CBBC); Shaun the Sheep (Julie Lockhart and Richard Golezsowski; Aardman Animation/CBBC) and Skunk Fu! (Paul Young, Jordan Gaucher and Aidan Harte; Cake Entertainment/CBBC).

Pre-School Animation nominees are Charlie and Lola (Claudia Lloyd and Kitty Taylor; Tiger Aspect Productions/CBeebies), Little Princess (Iain Harvey and Edward Foster; The Illuminated Film Company/Five), Peppa Pig (Phil Davies, Mark Baker and Neville Astley; Astley Baker Davies Ltd/Rubber Duck Entertainment/Nick Jr/Five) and Roary the Racing Car (Owen Ballhatchet and Tim Harper; Chapman Entertainment/Nick Jr/Five).

Nominees in the International category include the animated Phineas & Ferb (Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh; Walt Disney Television Animation/Disney Channel UK).

Among the nominees for the Children's BAFTA for Writer are Tony Collingwood, for The Secret Show (Collingwood O’Hare Entertainment/CBBC), and Dave Ingham, for Charlie and Lola.

Meanwhile, the BAFTA Kids Vote lets children under 16 pick their favorite film, TV show, video game or Web site of the last 12 months.

On the Television Shortlist are such series as Phineas & Ferb and Shaun The Sheep. Kung Fu Panda, Ratatouille and WALL-E, along with the partly animated Alvin & The Chipmunks and Enchanted, are on the Feature Film Shortlist.

Serge Bromberg in New York

Attention New Yorkers! This Saturday, November 1st, master film collector Serge Bromberg returns to the Big Apple, and will present rare prints of animated shorts that he has discovered and restored, accompanying them with anecdotes and piano music, in a program created especially for the French Institute Alliance Francaise. Bromberg, the Annecy Animation Festivalcreative director and archivist behind Lobster Films, is one of the great champions of classic animation, silent films and world cinema. I highly recommend attending this screening to meet and greet Serge in person.

Some program highlights will include:

Fantasmagorie, Emile Cohl, which first screened in France 100 years ago.
Cartoon Factory (Koko the Clown) by Dave and Max Fleischer, 1924.
The Sinking of the Lusitania, Winsor McCay, 1918.
Egged On, Charley Bowers and H.L. Muller, 1926.
Tulips Shall Grow
, A George Pal Puppetoon, 1942.
• and more!

This special screening will be held at Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street, New York, NY at 7pm. Admission: $10 ($7 for Students with ID). For more information please go to the French Institute Alliance Francaise (fiaf) website.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

A Future For Futurama?

David X. Cohen, co-creator and executive producer of Futurama, told SCI FI Wire that work is nearly done on the fourth and final (for now) made-for-DVD movie, Into the Wild Green Yonder, and added that he's hopeful the show might still return, either as a weekly series, a feature film or another DVD film.

"Hope never dies on
Futurama, or not anymore,"
Cohen said in an interview while promoting Bender's Game, the third DVD movie. "It died once, but once you introduce the idea that you can come back from the dead, then the second time you have to have a little bit of hope that you might come back to life yet again. So we do retain hope of resurrection."

As fans know, Fox canceled
after several seasons on the air, but revived it as a series of DVD movies after the series' DVD sets sold well. That set the stage for the return of Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal) and Bender (John DiMaggio). The previous films were Bender's Big Score and The Beast With a Billion Backs. Bender's Game comes out Nov. 4; Green Yonder is due next spring.

"Now, what the chances are [of another resurrection], I have no idea,"
Cohen said. "The hard facts would seem to support us coming back again. From what we have heard, the DVDs have sold very well, and I have heard the phrase 'greatly exceeded' 20th Century Fox's expectations. So that's got to be a good sign, you would think. We haven't heard anything, yes or no, so it's familiar territory."

Into the Wild Green Yonder
was written by Ken Keeler, who scripted "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings," the final episode of the Futurama
TV series. That, Cohen said, was no coincidence.

"So we have the rare luxury of a writer who's experienced with writing the last episode of Futurama writing it again," Cohen said. "So, in tone, we've gone for a similar approach, where if it is the last thing we ever do, I think we'll be quite proud of it, and it will serve us well as the last episode ever. But we leave ourselves a thin ray of hope in the story--and in real life--of returning."

Menu Screens From Exclusive "Batman: The Complete Animated Series" DVD Bonus Disc

The World's Finest has your first look at the bonus disc exclusive to the upcoming Batman: The Complete Animated Series DVD box set release.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the images.

The Batman: The Complete Animated Series DVD box set, collecting the entire animated series into one collection, is set to hit shelves on November 4th, 2008.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Bale getting STRANGE?

ItalicIs Christian Bale opening the eye of Agamotto for Marvel in the near future? That's the latest rumor according to an unsourced article from an Aussie news site.

LiveNews reports that Bale is "said to be the number one choice" for the lead role in 'Dr. Strange' for Marvel. The report uses no on-record sources, so take this story with a massive grain of Vishanti enchanted salt.

According to the unnamed sources a deal is expected in
"coming weeks."

'Dr. Strange'
movie has received quite a bit of buzz in recent weeks, with Neil Gaiman stating that he's talked about collaborating with Guillermo del Toro on such a film. More recently Marvel chief Kevin Feige has said he views 'Dr. Strange'
as a top priority for the post-'Avengers' lineup.

If a heavyweight director like Guillermo del Toro does, in fact, become officially attached to the movie, then it's quite easy to see Bale wanting to take on the part. Of course, the project would then have to wait for the twin 'Hobbit' films to clear, not to mention the dozen or so other movies.

"Disney Dogs" showcases canine cartoon stars

Jim Hill reviews this new hardcover from Disney Editions, which takes a detailed look at all of the dogs who have appeared in Disney animated shorts & features over the years

If you're a Disney trivia buff, I'm sure that you can already name the father & mother dog in "101 Dalmatians." But can you name all 15 of the puppies that Perdita had?

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Okay. I know. That's kind of a trick question. Given that -- in the original 1961 film -- only six of those puppies actually wound up with names. (And -- for the record -- those names were Freckles, Lucky, Penny, Patch, Pepper and Rolly).

But what about those two hounds who attack Edgar in "The Aristocats" ? Can you name them?

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Speaking of hounds, what's the name of the bloodhound "The Great Mouse Detective" makes use of while he's pursuing Ratigan?

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

If you're having some trouble naming all of these cartoon canines, not to worry. As part of the Disney Corporation's company-wide promotional push for "Bolt," the Disney Book Group has just released "Disney Dogs" (Disney Editions, October 2008), a 192-page hardcover that features a pretty definitive listing of the Mouse House's hounds.

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"Disney Dogs" is broken down into five distinct sections. With the first part of this book -- "Old Dogs, New Tricks" -- dealing with Pluto and all of the other cartoon canines that appeared in the studio's shorts.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

From there, we move on to "Hot Dogs." As in: Those Hollywood hounds who starred in feature-length projects for Walt Disney Pictures. Among these were the two title characters in "Lady and the Tramp," the Dodger in "Oliver and Company" as well as Copper in "The Fox and the Hound."

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

In this book's "Their Bark is Bigger Than Their Bite" section, "Disney Dogs" deals with all of those canines who played supporting roles in the studio's animated features. Furry scene-stealers like Max in "The Little Mermaid," Percy in "Pocahontas" and Little Brother in "Mulan."

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

And then it's time to go "Off the Leash" with Disney's more unconventional dogs. Animated creatures that look like dogs & act like dogs but still aren't dogs. Like the footstool in "Beauty and the Beast," Zero in Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and -- of course -- Goofy.

Copyright 2007 Disney. All Rights Reserved

FYI for all you Hidden Mickey fans out there: Did you notice that oh-so-familiar three-circle-symbol on one of the remotes in the above picture?

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"Disney Dog" wraps up with a look at the studio's new four-legged American hero, Bolt. With this section featuring some of the early concept work that was done on this animated feature after Chris Sanders left the project.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Is "Disney Dogs" a perfect book? Well ... While all of this seldom-seen artwork from Disney's Animation Research Library is lovely ... Me personally, I could have used a bit more text. Some information about the individual artists who worked on each of these canine characters. Perhaps a description of what's involved when you animate a four-legged creature.

Ah, but why quibble about the stuff that's not in
"Disney Dogs." When you could be spending your time playing with those flip-books that are located at the very end of this 192-page hardcover. Which show ruff ... er ... rough animation of Nana tripping over a toy wagon in "Peter Pan" as well as Lady & Tramp's first kiss.

If you're an animation fan who loves looking at model sheets, concept paintings & thumbnails of your favorite characters, you'll definitely dig
"Disney Dogs." Just don't pick up this book and then expect to read a detailed account of how "Bolt"
came together.

Copyright 2008 Chronicle Books. All Rights Reserved

That book -- "The Art of Bolt" (Chronicle Books, October 2008) -- just went on sale today.

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