Tuesday, November 4, 2008

News - 11/04/08...

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WALL-E DVD packaging and screencaps

Pictures of the upcoming WALL-E 3-disc dvd packaging can be found at UltimateDisney forum wherein a user shares the pictures of “Earth (and Space) Friendly Eco-Packaging” alongwith the screencaps of the menus.

New Coraline poster

shares a one sheet poster for the upcoming stop motion film Coraline. Directed by Henry Selick, Coraline opens in theaters on February 6, 2009.

Monsters vs Aliens trailer online

Movie-List has made available the very first trailer for the Dreamworks’ upcoming animated feature Monsters vs Aliens. Directed by Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon, the movie opens in theatres on March 27, 2009.

Madagascar 2 Sets Records in Russia, Ukraine

DreamWorks Animation announced that Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa made box office history in both Russia and the Ukraine over the weekend. The animated sequel bowed Friday in Russia to the biggest opening day ever for an American film, and scored the biggest opening day of all time in the Ukraine. Paramount Pictures is handling worldwide distribution.

Escape opened on 841 screens in Russia and grossed $2.81 million, the country’s second biggest opening of all time. In the Ukraine, the film debuted on 92 screens to gross $396,000.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, comments, “These numbers are confirmation of the worldwide popularity of the characters from the original film and the strength of the storytelling in the sequel. We are looking forward with enthusiasm to its worldwide release and domestic opening on Nov. 7."

In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo, King Julien, Maurice and the penguins all return for another wild adventure that begins when the penguins repair an old, crashed airplane and keep it in the air just long enough to reach the vast plains of Africa. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer and Andy Richter reprise their voice roles for the film, which is co-directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, and produced by Mireille Soria and Mark Swift.

Nick Serves Toons for Thanksgiving

Nickelodeon is cooking up a heaping helping of animation for Thanksgiving. The “Superstuffed Nicktoons Weekend” will kick off on Wednesday, Nov. 26, offering kids and their families four days of animation-packed premieres, movies, marathons and favorite episodes, plus five chances to catch a sneak peek at the network’s newest toon series, The Penguins of Madagascar. Based on characters from the DreamWorks Animation film series, the TV show will launch in 2009.

Fans of The Naked Brothers Band can check out the premiere of theseries’ first animated special on
Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 8:30 p.m. “The Supetastic 6” is a half-hour installment that involves a jazz-playing criminal genius who is jealous of the brothers and threatens to steal the world’s hair supply.

Thanksgiving day programming will feature
The Wild Thornberrys Movie and special episodes of The Fairly OddParents, SpongeBob SquarePants and Rugrats. Friday will then bring a day-long marathon of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes, including a screening of SpongeBob: The Movie at 6 p.m. Saturday will be dedicated to hour-long blocks of Back at the Barnyard and The Mighty B!, and Sunday will offer a full day of The Fairly OddParents capping off with back-to-back premieres.

The Madagascar: Escape to Africa
sneak peeks can be seen on Friday during the 8:30 p.m. episode of SpongeBob SquarePants and on Saturday during the 9:30 p.m. installment of The Mighty B!
Viewers can also catch them three additional times throughout the weekend.

In addition to the on-air event, Nickelodeon’s website (www.nick.com/stuffed) will feature sneak peeks at all the episodes airing during “Superstuffed Nicktoons Weekend.” The web destination will also feature Thanksgiving-themed quizzes, downloadable screensavers, posters, wallpapers, buddy icons, message boards and a schedule of tune-in times and links to related show sites, games and video. Replays of the “Superstuffed Nicktoons Weekend” will be offered on TurboNick, Nick’s online broadband player, and on Nick’s wireless platforms beginning Monday, Nov. 17.

Afro Samurai Game Gets Release Date

We’ve been informed that the video game based on the popular Spike TV animated series Afro Samurai will be available for Xbox360 and PlayStation 3 on Jan. 27, 2009. The title aims to deliver a stylized, hip-hop-infused interactive episode that allows players to join Afro in his epic hunt to avenge the murder of his father. Series stars Samuel L. Jackson, Ron Pearlman and Kelly Hu reprise their voice roles for the game from NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.

Created by manga artist Takashi Okazaki, the Afro Samurai series is produced by Japanese studio GONZO in association with GDH K.K, and features original music by RZA from Wu-Tang Clan. The property will return to Spike TV in January with Afro Samurai: Resurrection, an original movie feature the voice of Emmy-nominated actress Lucy Liu (Kung Fu Panda, Kill Bill). In Resurrection, the antihero is forced to pick up his sword again take on an army of deadly foes when his father’s body is stolen from the grave. Liu voices the role of Sio, a beautiful, seductive and sadistic mastermind plotting to destroy Afro Samurai. Other cast members include Mark Hamill (Star Wars) as Bin, Sio's manservant and protector, and Yuri Lowenthal as Kuma, the teddy bear-headed warrior from the original Afro Samurai series.

The video game promises to deliver a striking art style and an innovative gameplay system where RZA’s music affects the enemy AI and the tone of the gameplay. Gamers can also look forward to stylistic, acrobatic combat as Afro dynamically slices and dismembers enemies with ease.

Buster Animates “Dirty Presidents”

Los Angeles-based ad agency Stun Creative and its motion graphics division, Buster Design, have created eleven “Dirty Presidents” animated segments to air during a special election night marathon of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. The segments will air between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. (ET/PT) on Super Tuesday. A special 9 p.m. episode will have Mike paying tribute to the “dirtiest” of past U.S. presidents. Stun Creative Co-Presidents Brad Roth and Mark Feldstein made the announcement.

Working with Discovery Channel, Stun Creative and Buster wrote and animated the interstitial pieces that give surprising insight into the actual dirty jobs held by past presidents. For instance, James Garfield once worked as a janitor, Ulysses S. Grant as a tannery worker, and Abraham Lincoln as a butcher. Lyndon Johnson helped build some of the nation’s highways and Teddy Roosevelt herded cattle. Examples of the animated pieces can be seen online at http://www.busterdesign.tv/client/post/dirtypoliticsexamples.html.

Buster’s exec creative director, Jonas Morganstein, comments, “The animation team dove into these interstitials with as much zeal and enthusiasm as a young Ulysses S. Grant tenderly rubbing dung and brains into fresh cow hide. These 11 interstitials rank among our most fun-to-make projects. It’s not every day that we get to animate Gerald Ford giving Richard Nixon a sweet, soapy sponge bath.”

Stun Creative is helmed by co-presidents Mark Feldstein and Brad Roth. Buster is a conceptual design studio specializing in original animated content for the advertising and broadcast industries. For more information, go to www.busterdesign.tv.

Tytla at Tempo

Here’s a neat find. Chuck Howell, curator at The Library of American Broadcasting at the University of Maryland, came across this two-page article from the Oct. 1950 issue of a trade publication called Advertising Agency and Advertising And Selling (I assume two trade organs had merged to come up with that mouthful). “Clipping Board” was a regular feature that focused on art and graphic design trends, covering everything from billboards to direct mail to (as in this case) the still-new medium of television (click on thumbnails below for enlargements). These pages detail the creation of a TV commercial, for Sealtest ice cream, produced at Tempo Productions and directed by Bill Tytla (the article mis-spells his name “Wm. Tytle”).

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Popeye DVD Vol. 3

On sale today is Popeye Vol. 3. This 2-disc set features the classic wartime cartoons (banned from TV for several decades) with Popeye versus the German and Japanese armies. Restored cartoons, bonus documentaries and special features - the perfect video to watch after the election results come in! Here’s a tip: Best Buy is offering a bonus “vintage mini-comic book” if you buy it at the store.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Recording Begins on 'Drawn Together' Movie

Voice actor Tara Strong posted the following on her Facebook profile on October 24th:

Tara is stoked to do the "Drawn Together" movie today...long live Toot & Clara!

A Drawn Together direct-to-DVD movie was announced in August 2008 on the show's official MySpace page, for release sometime in 2009.

From aintitcoolnews...

Forrest J Ackerman is slipping away...

Hey folks, Harry here... I spoke briefly with Forrest J Ackerman earlier today, he wasn't sounding very strong, it hurt to hear his voice knowing that it wouldn't be here with us much longer. But at the same time, it was nice to say goodbye to one another.

Ackerman is one of the founders of my love of cinema. My father is the geek he is, because of his magazine - and I'm the geek I am because of his magazine as well as the influence it had on my father. That magazine was, of course, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. In speaking with Uncle Forry's caretaker, an amazing gentleman named Joe Moe, I was told that Forry was lucid, peaceful and not even on pain medication, but that he was progressively getting worse - and was ready to move on. However, he was wanting to say his goodbyes to as many of his neice and nephews that he has created in his almost 92 years on this Earth. His 92nd Birthday is this November 22nd.

Many friends of Forry have visited his bedside, hearing one last story, one last pun and to say one last goodbye. Ray Bradbury even flew to his bedside. We here at AICN are preparing a fitting memorial - and something, most likely, permanent to AICN. In the meanwhile - there is a chance for you to say your final goodbye, here's how...

I talked to Joe Moe, Forry's caregiver and best friend. He told me to spread the word about Forry. Forry is leaving us quickly. If youre going to write or call, do it now before it's too late. He's in good spirits and not in any pain or taking any meds. He did not have any heart attack or stroke. He is home resting comfortably, but his body is starting to shut down and he's sleeping alot now, hes very weak.

Even if you do what I did, just write "I love you" on a piece of paper and mail it, please do something if he touched your life in some way................joey OBrien

4511 Russell Avenue
Los Angeles, CA

Miller and Jackson on The Spirit

The Spirit director Frank Miller and star Samuel L. Jackson, who plays The Octopus, talked to the Los Angeles Times about the Christmas Day release. Here are several clips about the fighting in the film:

The biggest differences between "The Spirit" and "Sin City" or "300" are the romances and the cartoon combat; the Spirit and Octopus both have a sort of Wile E. Coyote invincibility by the time they duke it out and they whack each other with cinder blocks, spanner wrenches and even a toilet with a jolly unreality that makes the film seem something like "The Mask" meets "Green Hornet." Jackson said it was a giddy time on the set filming the escalating mayhem.

"There are some great scenes where we just go at it," Jackson said, although he added that Miller found a way to keep the loopy universe true to itself. "Frank knew what he wanted to do. You look at this movie and you can tell it's his. Nobody else would make this movie this way, which is why he's doing movies now."

You can read the full article here!

Big Shakeup Behind the Heroes Scenes

Variety says there was a big shakeup behind the scenes of NBC's "Heroes" on Sunday as writers/co-executive producers Jesse Alexander and Jeph Loeb were fired.

The duo had been with the show since its first season and were known to have led the day-to-day production operation under the direction of creator/executive producer Tim Kring.

"Heroes," produced by Universal Media Studios, has struggled in the ratings its third season. It's understood that Alexander and Loeb were let go because of NBC executives' frustration with the creative direction of the show.

The trade added that the show is also said to have been dealing with hefty budget overruns this season that are going well beyond its already sizable $4 million per-episode pricetag.

"Superman Doomsday: Special Edition" Blu-ray Sees Early Release At Best Buy

The electronics chain Best Buy exclusively releases the upcoming Blu-ray early.

The Blu-ray release of the upcoming Superman Doomsday: Special Edition title hit Best Buy shelves early, more than three weeks before the official release date of the title. While slated for a November 25th, 2008 wide release, the new Superman Doomsday: Special Edition Blu-ray is now available exclusively at Best Buy until the title's official street date. The early release of the Superman Doomsday: Special Edition Blu-ray is part of a promotional event at Best Buy, highlighting assorted DC Animation DVD releases and the upcoming direct-to-video Wonder Woman animated feature.

The Superman Doomsday: Special Edition Blu-ray and two-disc DVD contains new bonus features, included a look at the film's production and bonus Superman: The Animated Series episodes.

What Does Grant Morrison Have To Do With A ‘Flash’ Movie? He’s Not Telling… Yet.

Damn those Non-Disclosure Agreements. Grant Morrison is working on a lot of film projects, and we’d love to talk to him about them (and he’d love to answer), but he’s legally bound not to, well… disclose. MTV SplashPage asked Morrison about “We3″ and “Sleepless Knights” and just about everything was getting the ol’ “I can’t say anything” response.

“The thing with Hollywood stuff,” Morrison started to explain, “is that I’ve signed all these NDAs, so I can’t talk about it. I don’t want to get myself in trouble for saying the wrong things. There’s a lot of projects I’m not ready to talk about. I can’t. It’s just not allowed.”

So we thought we were shifting gears by asking him his thoughts on the upcoming
“Flash” film — after all, he’s resurrected the Flash in “Final Crisis.” But it appears that we may have hit upon another sore spot, since it appears he’s pitched a “Flash” film.

“Yeah, that’s the kind of thing I can’t talk about,”
Morrison said. “Yes, I have talked to them. I’m deeply involved in those discussions. I know what’s going down with all of that, and it’s actually really exciting. But beyond that, I can’t say anything. I wish I could tell you. I’m sure announcements will probably be made at some point, but I can’t say anything.”

Does that mean director David Dobkin might use a Morrison idea or script? He can’t say. Does it mean he pitched it and they turned it down? Again, he can’t say. But that they even might be considering using anything Morrison has to offer gives us hope. And when there are announcements either way to be made about it, we’ll keep you posted.

Ben Jones: Directing Batman: The Brave and the Bold

November 14 will be have an interesting night for Batman: The Brave & The Bold for director Ben Jones. The series will premier on Cartoon Network at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern - Note the new time) that evening. One of the episodes he directed, “The Rise of the Blue Beetle,” is the one chosen to lead it all off.

Then again, he certainly has the qualities one looks for in an episodic director.

Jones started off like a lot of animators, working for a few different people before landing a solid gig at Warner Bros. His earliest listing is on Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S. in 1994. From there he worked a lot with such masters as Chuck Jones and John Kricfalusi, finally landing a steady gig at Warner Bros. in the early part of this decade as a storyboard artist on shows like Mucha Lucha. He would then move on to episode director on shows like Glen Murakami’s Teen Titans and James Tucker’s Legion of Super Heroes.

And yes, Jones did do storyboards on more serious WB Animation efforts like Justice League and New Frontier, but an overview of his history will show he has worked on a lot of shows where combining action with a lighter touch is mandatory.

“I think one thing DC and we are trying to do is, with this particular Batman, in the past relied heavily on his rogue’s gallery,” says the head of the marketing for the series, James Finch. “What we realized is we have this great group of heroes that haven’t been touched. Also, there is a new generation of readers of kids that have no idea of them. So why not capitalize on them? I mean we still play a bit with the rogue’s gallery, but a bit less.”

How successful was Jones? Honestly if “Rise of the Blue Beetle” is any indicator, he’s done one heck of a job. He’s managed to come up with a bright, lighter take on the Dark Knight that’s not going to insult the legacy left by the likes of Alan Burnett, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm.

That said, here’s Jones:

Newsarama: Ben, I understand your background is primarily in character design?

Ben Jones:
No. Actually it’s in doing storyboards. I did one character design job on WildC.A.T.S. but that was years ago. That was only six weeks and I wasn’t terribly happy doing it. I also worked with Chuck Jones for a while. After that, I started doing storyboards for television.

NRAMA: Was the character design more James Tucker?

That was almost entirely James. He also has Lynell Forsall and Mike Manley who are much better designers than I am.

NRAMA: Would you say your storyboard background helps you in directing? I mean in the pilot episode, there is a lot of action going down.

Oh yeah. The hardest part of storyboarding is trying to fit all that’s in the script. They are pretty jam packed. We’re trying not to hold still for too long. We want to keep things moving.

NRAMA: So you’re position is episodic director or something like that?

They just call it “director” but that’s about right. James (Tucker) is the producer. Then there are three directors; me, Michael Chang and Brandon Vietti. We three handle one individual episode at a time. Michael Jelenic is the story editor and he handles all the writers. There are a lot more writers than directors.

NRAMA: From my interview with Michael Jelenic, I understand that JM DeMatteis and Paul Dini wrote scripts. Who are some of the other writers you personally are working with?

Matt Wayne is writing an episode or two. Steven Melching has written a couple.

NRAMA: What shows do you use for inspiration on this project?

The primary inspiration, of course, is the comics from the 40s through the 60s. We looked at most of the Batman titles, of course, but also World’s Finest and other titles of the same era. We also incorporated comics from the later eras. There are some 70s and 80s in there as well.

NRAMA: Dick Spang in particular?

We also threw in some Kirby stuff as well. In the Blue Beetle part of the show, we threw in some Kirby in there. His influence is on everybody. He’s impossible to avoid, so you might as well embrace it.

NRAMA: Any anime stylings?

Actually, we went more with the Cully Hamner design but just skinnied him up a bit. I think if you put our Blue Beetle against the comic, the look is pretty close.

NRAMA: What is it like trying to pick which DC characters you are going to use? You really are using a lot of different characters, many of which hadn’t been used before.

It’s like being at a really big buffet and trying to choose between a hundred different foods. There are a lot of things that would be really awesome to do. The problem isn’t coming up with ideas. The problem is which to actually pick, especially as we only have 26 episodes. How it was done was everyone has their favorite characters. So we suggested to James which we liked to see. From there, he and the story editors narrowed it down to the ones they could do stories about.

NRAMA: Did DC provide any input on that? Did they suggest characters or tell you there were some you can’t use?

We got a few “no’s” on a couple of characters, but generally we got what we wanted.

NRAMA: So what were some of the characters you want to see, Ben?

My favorite character as a kid was Red Tornado. I was told before I even started on the show that he was going to be one of them. That excited me. As luck would have it, he’s popping up in the other directors’ shows than mine.

NRAMA: This is the android Tornado, right?

Oh yeah. As obscure as we’re getting, we’re not digging Ma Hunkle yet.

NRAMA: Maybe a cameo appearance?

I wouldn’t say that’s impossible. Now that sounds like a good idea. It would be kind of nice to have them both in one episode.

NRAMA: So in putting this pilot together, what did you really want to establish for the series?

It’s true for most series, but the biggest thing we tried to do with the first episode is try to figure out, with no road map, what the direction of the show was going to be. We wanted to figure out what was acceptable and what wasn’t. How is Batman going to act? That was one thing everyone had their own ideas on. Also, with this pilot in particular, we wanted to establish the character of the Blue Beetle as well. That was important because he is another commonly recurring character.

NRAMA: Was it decided early that Blue Beetle would be in the pilot?

That was decided before I was hired. So I don’t know. I do know there are a group of guest stars that appear more frequently, like Blue Beetle, Red Tornado, Green Arrow, Aquaman and, at least I’m thinking, Plastic Man.

NRAMA: That’s interesting. You have those posters you have hanging on Jamie’s wall and they are all on there.

There’s a few spoilers about upcoming characters on there. If you take the time to freeze frame his room, you’ll get some clues.

NRAMA: How does it feel to be part of the same block that includes Clone Wars, Secret Saturdays and Ben 10?

Awesome! I like the idea that there’s a cluster of shows that’s like the old Saturday morning shows.

NRAMA: Do you feel you’re in good company?

I think so. I mean I know the guy who runs Star Wars, Dave Filoni. He’s an old pal of mine. We used to play hockey together. I admit it’s no surprise to see him doing Star Wars. It’s turned out better than I expected, so many people I know doing so well.

NRAMA: It feels kind of like you, Michael Chang, Mike Jelenic and a few others are part of a new generation of animators at Warners. I mean the past generation included Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett and their colleagues. Now here comes you guys, and a few others.

It’s a bit more nebulous than that. I mean James was well established before I got in. Then again, I do have to admit I only got excited about doing superhero cartoons again when I saw Bruce and Paul’s first Batman series. I was still in college at the time. I mean I loved Super Friends and Jonny Quest as a kid but when I got older I found liking some of them kind of embarrassing. Then Bruce came along and showed there was a new way that actually let you do it right. So here I am.

NRAMA: So saying you’re part of a new generation is possible.

I guess so. If you attribute the quote to yourself, then yeah.

NRAMA: So how far are you into the 26 episodes?

Well, the first 26 episodes are divided into two seasons of 13. Episode 13 kind of puts a cap on the first season. Then the next 13 are of their own. There’s not a lot of continuity, but there is some. As far as where we are, I think the storyboards for Episode 26 is being done as we speak. So we’re pretty far into it. We have three shows in the can.

NRAMA: I think there’s been talk about Brave & Bold for about two years. That means there’s usually been production going on for a year or so previously. So, for starters, how does it feel to see it finally getting on the air?

It’s pretty good. The whole animation business is like a show is in development for a long, long time and then when it’s into production it’s in and out the door. Once you start seeing the footage come back, it’s really worth it though.

NRAMA: Would you say Brave & Bold is aiming for a new generation of Batman fans?

Yeah, but we want to keep the old fans too. We want everybody to watch.

NRAMA: So let me get this straight. We’re going to see a lot of characters but not necessarily what we should expect.

NRAMA: So how do you feel about your pilot finally hitting the airwaves in a few weeks?

I feel great. I’m really looking forward to November 14 right now. I mean I also have a lot of new footage coming in at that time and I’ll have to go over those new shows coming in. That gives me something to think about besides sitting and waiting for the debut.

NRAMA: Still, I don’t know about you, but it’s something to have the screener in your hands, but quite another to see it on the tube, commercials and all.

It really does feel different when you know everyone else watching TV is watching it with you.


Warner Bros. Animation has provided Newsarama with the log lines for the first three episodes of Batman: The Brave & The Bold. Here they are:

Friday, Nov. 14: "Rise of the Blue Beetle! " - Batman and Blue Beetle team up to save an alien race from Kanjar Ro.

Friday, Nov. 21: "Terror on Dinosaur Island! " - Batman and Plastic Man thwart Gorilla Grodd's plot to devolve humans into primates.

Friday, Nov. 28 :"Evil Under the Sea!" - Batman aids Aquaman as Ocean Master and Black Manta team up to assassinate him.

Also, a new video preview has been posted at Canada's TELETOON website.

New "Peanuts" Motion Comics Available on iTunes

Charles Schulz's iconic Peanuts comic strip is the latest comic to be turned into one of Warner Bros' Motion Comics, with several classic 1964 comic strips turned into 3-4 minute Flash animated videos available at the iTunes store. Individual episodes containing two cartoons are 99 cents each, and the full "season" can be purchased for $7.99, although two episodes can be downloaded for free for a limited time. When speaking with the Associated Press, Charles Schulz's widow Jeannie Schulz noted that she thinks, "CG doesn't quite look right" when animating the Peanuts characters, and joked that, "I'm sort of glad that Sparky — Mr. Schulz — isn't alive (to see it)," saying he wouldn't have understood why people would want to watch programs on their telephones.

AP Talks with Seth MacFarlane About "Family Guy," "American Dad," and $100M

The Associated Press has spoken with Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family GuyAmerican Dad and , about the current state of those two shows, the upcoming spinoff The Cleveland Show, and how his life has changed after he became the highest paid writer-producer on television with his $100 million contract with Fox.

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