Thursday, November 6, 2008

News - 11/06/08...

TeeVee Animation and Ratings

Okay, so Fox cancels, King of the Hill, and then:

... the animated laffer posted its best ratings in a year, averaging a 4.3 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 on Sunday night.

Oh my ...

It's a tough time for the conglomerates. There's a recession on. They want to cut costs down to the gristle and marrow. And then the cast-off series that they calculated had run its course goes on performing well.

At a time when shows are being renewed while earning modest 2.4 adult demo ratings, the current 13th season of "King" is averaging a 3.4 -- nearly as much as CBS' breakout freshman drama "The Mentalist" ...

And of course, it's not just the Judge animated shows that continue to perform. There's also this well-roasted chestnut:

The annual "Treehouse of Horror" episode of Fox’s "The Simpsons" generated the show’s best demo score in nearly five years on Sunday ...

Now in its 20th season,
"The Simpsons" (6.2 rating/15 share in adults 18-49, 12.5 million viewers overall) racked up the best demo score of the night, according to Nielsen prelims. It fared even better, of course, in adults 18-34 (7.3/20) and teens (4.2/12).

Overall, it was the best 18-49 score for the animated vet (excluding its post-Super Bowl airing in 2005) since January 2004, and its largest total audience since February 2004 ...

One of the conundrums for Fox is, it now has hundreds of episodes for both these shows in the well-stocked corporate library, all of which News Corp. can cycle and recycle on various platforms into infinity: Broadcast syndication, DVDs, cable, the internet, foreign. The options are close to unlimited. And it's all gravy.

So one of the issues for execs is: When is enough enough?

Unless I badly misjudge the upper echelons at Fox, it will probably be a minute after the last drop of turnip juice has been squeezed from the mushy pulp of The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Marvel Debuts ‘Hulk Vs.’ DVD Cover Art With Wolverine And Thor

Last week, we brought you a new trailer for Marvel’s upcoming “Hulk Vs.” straight-to-shelves animated feature, but today the crew over at offered up the first look at the cover art for the various versions of the film, as well as some of the special features each version will include.

“Hulk Vs.” pits the ol’ Green Goliath against both Wolverine and Thor (not together, but in two separate features), and will arrive in three different formats on January 27, 2009. The standard DVD version features “collectible 3D lenticular packaging,” while the Special Edition DVD and Blu-Ray versions come with the cover art we’ve posted after the jump.

Read on for a list of some of the special features you’ll find on each version of the film, as well as one of the cover images that debuted today.

“Hulk Vs. Wolverine” - Audio Commentary by Supervising Producer/co-writer Craig Kyle and co-
writer Chris Yost
“Hulk Vs. Thor” - Audio Commentary by Supervising Producer/co-writer Craig Kyle and co-
writer Chris Yost
“First Look – Wolverine and the X-Men” featurette
“First Look – Thor Tales of Asgard” featurette
• Trailer Gallery

“Hulk Vs. Wolverine”
• Audio Commentary by Supervising Producer/co-writer Craig Kyle and co-writer Chris Yost
• Audio Commentary by Supervising Director Frank Paur and Storyboard Artists Kevin Altieri and
Butch Lukic
“This is Gonna Hurt: The Making of Hulk Vs Wolverine” featurette
“Fan Frenzy: Hulk Vs Wolverine at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con” featurette
“First Look – Wolverine and the X-Men” featurette
• Trailer Gallery

“Hulk Vs. Thor”
• Audio Commentary by Supervising Producer/co-writer Craig Kyle and co-writer Chris Yost
• Audio Commentary by Supervising Director Frank Paur, Animation Director Sam Liu and
Color Key Design James Peters
“Of Gods and Monsters: The Making of Hulk Vs Thor” featurette
“Jack Kirby and Thor” (original Thor comic illustrator) featurette
“First Look – Thor Tales of Asgard” featurette
• Trailer Gallery
*special features subject to change. Blu-ray special features in hi-def.

Comic Book Industry Celebrates Barack Obama’s Historic Presidential Win

The historic victory by President-Elect Barack Obama is still sinking in for many Americans, and among the majority of creators in the comics industry, the mood is jubilant. Support for Obama has been notably strong within comics, where scores of creators publicly expressed their support for the Democratic candidate, and even Image Comics hero Savage Dragon endorsed Obama in a recent issue (thanks, of course, to writer Erik Larsen). The industry enthusiasm lead to a fundraising initiative called The Comics Industry for Barack Obama, which raised over $5,000 through auction donations of art and autographed books from comics pros like Alex Ross, Mike Mignola, Eric Powell, Jaime Hernandez, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Conner.

“Incredible Hercules” and “Marvel Zombies 3” writer Fred Van Lente and his wife got personally involved in the election process, working at a phone bank in Brooklyn, New York on the night of the election to help get out the vote for Obama.

“It wasn’t even run by the Obama campaign, these two [women] just did it on their own and used the tools on the [Obama] website to organize it,” says Van Lente, who used his personal cell phone to make the calls, but quickly discovered that he had no reception within the building. “I had to do all my calling right out on the street, right by the East River, so I froze my ass off … Usually my motto is ‘Never help anyone,’” jokes Van Lente. “But now I feel personally invested in the win.”

Comics writer Brian Wood, who created the Vertigo title “DMZ” about a modern day American civil war, told MTV News that he found it hard to muster the requisite cynicism to script the gritty series the morning after the Obama victory:

“Real-life politics has played a huge role in my work, from the Rudy Giuliani ‘Quality Of Life’ regime in the ’90s to the W. Bush legacy of war, torture, illegal politics, occupation and terrorism. But this morning it was impossible to get up after a long night watching election news and put myself into the necessary pessimist headspace to work on the latest ‘DMZ’ script. It’s been a long eight years in this country, where things unimaginable only a few years before that have been committed in our name, flying in the face of our own Constitution, domestic and international law, not to mention common sense and decency. It’s impossible not to get excited even at the idea or possibility of a change, and the fact that Obama was elected so quickly and with such surety is amazing, just absolutely world-changing. As cliché as it sounds, nothing will be the same from this point on. So while my writing on ‘DMZ’ has trained me to look at politics in the most cynical way possible, for today at least I just pushed the keyboard back and enjoyed thinking of the best-case scenario instead.”

Bill Kelter, the author of the upcoming “Veeps” book from Top Shelf Productions, a humorous historical chronicle of the nation’s vice presidents, adds that “speaking from a strictly selfish standpoint, and what it would have meant for “Veeps,” it would have been a joy to go back to the Sarah Palin well again and again for the next four years. We would never have gone thirsty for a moment. I’m not sure that would have been the best thing for the country, though.”

“K Chronicles” cartoonist Keith Knight, who recently attracted controversy with a comic strip about a political canvasser’s real-life encounter with racist slurs directed at Obama, agreed that “many cartoonists will miss Bush and Cheney, because they made our job so easy.” More importantly, he says, “It’s nice to see America at its best again… I’m personally looking forward to visiting the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.”

For some, the excitement over the Obama win was somewhat tempered by the votes on various propositions around the nation, particularly the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which stripped away the recently granted marriage rights for gays and lesbians in the state.

“The icing would have been getting ‘No’ on [Proposition] 8, but I know that one’s not over by a long shot,” “Love & Rockets” creator Jaime Hernandez told us, who added that nonetheless, the Obama win left him feeling like “a giddy schoolboy…Even if this happens only once in our lifetime, at least I got to see it. As Tiny Tim observed, ‘God bless us, every one.’ And he meant everyone.”

“Hate” and “Apocalypse Nerd” creator Peter Bagge, who has created comic strips for the Libertarian magazine “Reason,” says that he is pleased with the Obama victory “mainly because the Republican Party has so thoroughly disgraced itself that they needed to be sent to exile. Plus the symbolism behind the election of a non-white male for once can’t be underestimated, especially regarding how we’re perceived in the rest of the world.”

Comics creator Dan Goldman, who is currently at work on the campaign travelogue graphic novel “’08,” was literally at the drawing board when the presidential race – and the end of his book – was announced. “I think this is a new day for America; we have a chance to empty all the pollutants out of the tank and have a fresh start.” Goldman also drew the 2007 graphic novel “Shooting War,” which took place in a dark, near-future setting where McCain was President and the U.S. lay in shambles. “That was not a world that I wanted to live in,” Goldman said.

Now, as the glow of victory begins to recede for many Obama supporters in the face of the challenges ahead, their view of the future was perhaps best summed up by “Uncanny X-Men” and “Casanova” writer Matt Fraction, who described himself as “overjoyed, under-rested, and ready to get to work. The next four years starts today.”

New Transformer...Is Just Like The Female Terminator? AHAHAHAHA!

Oh, I can't stop laughing. This is just too much. Just when I thought this sequel might possibly be good comes news that puts those dumb thoughts right out of my head:

The TFW TF2 Insider has confirmed that the character of Alice, as played by Isabel Lucas, in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, is a Pretender. For those not familiar with Transformers sublines from the 1980s, Pretenders are Transformers that are hidden inside a shell that acts as their disguise. In the case of Alice, the shell will be an attractive human woman while the inner robot is best described as a hybrid of the Frenzy robot design from the first movie. The Pretender Transformer will have an arm that transforms into an energy weapon, a long tongue, and a scanning tenticle.

Ok, I know Transformers fans are going to say this isn't like the T-X from Terminator 3, but I'm gonna have to say, "It sounds like it is." An attractive female that's actually a robot? Uh, ok.

Killer vag in TF2? Okey dokey.

Let me guess, and I'm just gonna, you know, take a wild stab at the story here, but I'm guesing this "female" manages to get close to Sam and causes a rift between him and Mikaela and blah blah blah. Seriously, why else would Bay put this into his movie? Oh that's right. Because he needs more slo-mo shots of some chicks stomach to entice the little 12 year old boners in the theater.

Alright, since I'm going to be laughing at this for a while, why don't you check out the news for yourself on TFW2005's website by clicking HERE.

Astro Boy Video Games in the Works

D3Publisher made the following announcement today regarding video games based on the upcoming Astro Boy movie:

D3Publisher (D3P), a publisher and developer of interactive entertainment software, together with its parent D3, Inc., today announced a worldwide publishing agreement with Imagi Studios for videogames based on the new animated adventure film, Astro Boy. The games are scheduled to be released for console and handheld systems in Q4 2009 to coincide the worldwide release of the movie in October 2009.

"The rich history and endearing story of Astro Boy appeals to fans around the globe and translates exceptionally well to the interactive space," said Yoji Takenaka, president and chief executive officer, North America and Europe, D3P. "We look forward to working with Imagi to bring the film's unique cast of characters to life in a compelling videogame that fans and gamers of all ages will enjoy."

Erin Corbett, President of Imagi Studios U.S., said: "We are delighted to have D3Publisher as our exclusive worldwide interactive partner, and we look forward to seeing Astro Boy raised to new superhero heights in the videogame universe."

About Astro Boy (The Movie)

Set in the future, Imagi Studio's Astro Boy is a classic superhero origin story about a young robot with incredible powers and his adventure-filled journey in search of his identity and destiny, taking him into a netherworld of robot gladiators before he returns to save Metro City.

David Bowers (Flushed Away) is directing Astro Boy from a screenplay written by Timothy Harris (Kindergarten Cop, Trading Places), with Maryann Garger producing. The all-star cast is headed by Academy Award®-winning actor Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy and Donald Sutherland, with Freddie Highmore in the title role.

The iconic character Astro Boy has found global popularity since his creation in the early 1950s by Japan's Osamu Tezuka, known as the "god of manga" and "father of anime," and has been the hero of three acclaimed animated television series aired around the world.

Astro Boy, slated for domestic release on October 23, 2009, is being distributed worldwide by Summit Entertainment except for Imagi's reserved territories of Japan, Hong Kong and China.

Jurassic Park's Michael Crichton Is Dead

The family of Michael Crichton, the million-selling author of such historic and prehistoric science fantasies as Jurassic Park, Timeline and The Andromeda Strain, told the Associated Press that the author has died in Los Angeles.

Crichton died Nov. 4 at age 66. He had been privately battling cancer, his family said.

"Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand," his family said in a statement.

Crichton was an American author, film producer, film director, medical doctor, and television producer best known for his science fiction and techno-thriller novels, films, and television programs. His books have sold over 150 million copies worldwide. His works are usually based on the action genre and heavily feature technology.

The first novel written under his own name, 1969's "The Andromeda Strain," was quickly made into a 1971 movie directed by Robert Wise.

It was the first in a long line of Crichton novels adapted for the screen, among them
"A Case of Need" (which became "The Carey Treatment"), "The Terminal Man," "The Great Train Robbery," "Eaters of the Dead" (which became "The Thirteenth Warrior"), "Congo," "Sphere," "Jurassic Park," "Rising Sun," "Disclosure," "The Lost World" and "Timeline."

Crichton novels optioned for the big screen but yet unmade include "Airframe," "Prey," "State of Fear"
and "Next."

He also wrote directed several movies from his own original screenplays, including "Westworld," "Coma," "The Great Train Robbery," "Looker,"
and "Runaway."

He directed "Physical Evidence,"
for which he did not receive screenplay credit, and wrote "Twister," which he did not direct.

If all that's not enough to account for his 66 years on the planet, he was also a practicing M.D. and authored four works of non-fiction:
"Five Patients," "Jasper Johns," "Electronic Life" and "Travels."

Find CBS’ story on the literal and literary giant Michael Crichton here.

FULL HOUSE Star Dave Coulier To Replace Rick Moranis On Animated BOB & DOUG Series!!

Dave Coulier, who played Uncle Joey on eight seasons of “Full House,” will take over the role of Bob MacKenzie in the new “Bob & Doug” cartoon for Canada’s Global TV (and perhaps the Fox network).

Recall that Coulier also took over the Bill Murray role of Peter Venkman in “The Real Ghostbusters” cartoon series.

Dave Thomas will continue to voice brother Doug MacKenzie, a role his originated decades ago on the “SCTV” TV series.

According to the report:

Thomas says Moranis is staying behind the scenes as executive producer and just isn't interested in appearing on the show.

Find the Canadian Press story on the matter here.

"The Art of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" details how DreamWorks Animation's latest came together

Jim Hill reviews Jerry Beck's new book, which takes a look at the artistic development at both "Madagascar" movies

When it comes to putting together a good "Art of" book, especially one that covers the creation of a new animated feature ... Well, it's a lot harder than it looks.

Sometimes the authors of these over-sized coffee table books take themselves a bit too seriously. Which is why they then make the mistake of loading up their "Art of" book with over-written, self-important prose. Still others -- because they're writing about a feature-length cartoon -- feel that their tome has to be entertaining too. Which is why they then strain to fill every page with cute & clever commentary.

Copyright 2008 Insight Editions. All Rights Reserved

Of course, Jerry Beck is too smart to make an amateurish mistake like that. As one of the most respected animation historians in the business, Jerry knows that -- when it comes to an
"Art of"
book -- his job is to just get the hell out of the way and let the film shine through. Which is exactly what he's done with "The Art of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" (Insight Editions, October 2008).

Mind you, this time around, Beck isn't writing about just one film.You see, previously no one thought to do an
"Art of" book for the first "Madagascar"
movie. Which then puts Jerry in the rather unique position of being able to discuss the artistic & technology development that occurred between that 2005 DreamWorks Animation release and its 2008 sequel.

Copyright DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved

Which -- given that one of the main reasons that so many moviegoers found the first
to be so enjoyable was its very distinctive look (Which skillfully married the simple yet strong design from the Little Golden Books with the vibrant colors & stylization of Henri Rousseau's paintings) -- "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" 's directors Eric Darnell & Tim McGrath were smart enough to not mess with success.

But at the same time, given that this
sequel has Melman, Gloria and the gang escaping to Africa ... This was just too big an opportunity to expand the artistic horizons of this DWA franchise to pass up. Which is why Darnell, McGrath and their development team just jumped at this chance.

Copyright DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved

Beck does a terrific job of seamlessly shifting between the two "Madagascar" films, explaining how the artistic choices made on the first movie then went on to influence the look of the sequel. Jerry's also great at finding the sorts of behind-the-scenes stories (Like how Ben Stiller's unique comic stylings greatly influenced how the role of Alex, that neurotic New York lion, was written) that entertain information junkies like myself without upsetting the suits back in Glendale.

Which is why -- before you head out to the multiplex this coming weekend to see
"Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa"
(Which -- from what I've been hearing -- is tracking very strongly. With some folks suggesting this new DreamWorks Animation release could earn over $50 million during its first weekend in domestic release) -- you might want to pick up a copy of this new Insight Editions' "Art of" book. Which -- thanks to Jerry Beck's storytelling skill -- will give you a greater appreciation of how these two DWA productions came together.

Copyright DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved

"The Real Ghostbusters" Comes Home Complete in 25-DVD Set

Time Life will be bringing all 147 episodes of The Real Ghostbusters to home video in a 25-DVD set scheduled for release on November 20, 2008. The Real Ghostbusters: The Complete Series will also include over twelve hours of special features produced by Andy Mangels and Reed Kaplan with assistance from cereal: geek's James Eatock, including five documentaries, 21 commentary tracks, and other bonus features such as a never-before-seen promotional pilot, photo galleries, and on-camera introductions, and more. The packaging will be in five special SteelBook cases with artwork by comic artist Emiliano Santalucia and MVCreations, all housed in a "firehouse" box with two lenticular panels.

The DVD set carries a list price of $179.99 and is available exclusively on-line at

Adult Swim to Start at 10 PM in '09, Adds "King of the Hill"

The Adult Swim programming block will begin at 10:00 PM starting in January 2009, with the program kicking off the new hour's worth of programming being Fox's King of the Hill. Adult Swim signed a multi-year licensing agreement bring King of the Hill to the network, with senior vice president Mike Lazzo stating, "With King of the Hill joining Family Guy in our Adult Swim lineup we now have two of the greatest animated series ever made."

Avatar Hits the Web on Veoh

Internet TV provider Veoh has added the first two seasons of Nickelodeon’s Emmy-winning animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender to its lineup of digital content offerings. Episodes A total of 36 full episodes of the anime-inspired action show are available on demand at

Avatar takes place in a world where human civilization is divided into four nations: Water, Earth, Air and Fire. As the Fire Nation wages a ruthless, oppressive war against the other three nations, a new hero emerges in Aang, a young Avatar who, according to prophecy, has the ability to manipulate all of the elements and bring all the nations together. Aided by a protective teenage Waterbender named Katara and her bull-headed brother, Sokka, Aang proceeds on a perilous journey to restore balance to the war-torn world.

The series is currently syndicated in more than 105 countries around the world, and is being made into a live-action feature film by filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan (
The Happening, Signs, The Sixth Sense). The movie will be released by Paramount pictures in 2010 under the abbreviated titled The Last Airbender, to avoid confusion with James Cameron’s unrelated 3-D sci-fi thriller, Avatar. Series creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are serving as exec producers on the big-screen version. Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Book 3 Collection DVD was released in September by Nickelodeon (priced at $44.99 on

James Tucker on "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" at CBR

Comic Book Resources has
 spoken with James Tucker, producer of the upcoming Batman: The Brave and the Bold series, which debuts on Cartoon Network on November 14, 2008, at 8:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific). Tucker discusses the distinctive approach to Batman taken by the show, the relationship between Batman and his co-stars on each show, and digs a bit into the structure and pacing challenges that the show has presented so far.

Wolverine Teaser When the Earth Stands Still has learned from 20th Century Fox that the studio is targeting The Day the Earth Stood Still for the launch of its first X-Men Origins: Wolverine teaser trailer. The Keanu Reeves-starrer opens in conventional theaters and IMAX on December 12th. We'll have to wait and see if the studio will release the teaser earlier online that week.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine, directed by Gavin Hood, stars Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch,, Danny Huston, Dominic Monaghan, Daniel Henney and Lynn Collins. It opens May 1st.

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