Thursday, December 4, 2008

News - 12/04/08...

Japanese-American Animation Artists of the Golden Age

Contrary to what most animation histories would lead one to believe, the creative workforce during the Golden Age of animation in the 1930s and 1940s was not comprised entirely of white males. There were also women who worked in creative capacities, as well as artists of different ethnicities, particularly Mexican, Chinese and Japanese. Sadly their contributions have been obscured throughout the years and rarely acknowledged in any meaningful way by our art form’s historians.

The history of Japanese artists is particularly interesting because most of them were interned during WWII. In one of the stupider moments in American history, the US government decided to forcibly remove tens of thousands of Japanese-American citizens from their homes and confine them in internment camps, an action that the government later admittted was based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” Recently while browsing through this UC Library digital image archive, I stumbled across some rare photos that help to flesh out the story of Japanese-American animation artists.

To start off, here’s a shot of Scooby-Doo designer Iwao Takamoto (also posted below) from 1945. Iwao was too young to work in animation prior to the war. He was recruited to work at Disney in 1945 at the age of 20. In an interview I did with him in 1999, he spoke about his experience being interned and how he entered the animation industry afterwards. By the early-1950s, he had became one of the most trusted clean-up artists at Disney and worked closely with both Milt Kahl and Marc Davis before beginning his illustrious H-B career in 1961.

Next is a photo of Bennie Nobori, who had worked at Disney prior to being interned. I’ve never heard of him but examples of his work from an internment camp newspaper—here and here—reflect a strong Freddie Moore influence.

Other Disney artists who were interned during WWII were veteran animator and writer Bob Kuwahara and Chris Ishii. According to Michael Barrier, Kuwahara was “the first Disney artist whose job was just to draw story sketches.” Kuwahara left Disney in 1937 to go to MGM, which is where he was working when he was taken away by the government. After the war, he moved to NY where, among other things, he created the theatrical cartoon character Hashimoto-san for Terrytoons. Read a short bio written by Kuwahara himself here.

I’ve previously written about about Ishii’s WWII experience on the Brew. In that earlier blogpost, there’s a photo of Ishii working on the camp’s newspaper comic. Below is another photo from December 12, 1942, the day he was inducted into the US military. It has the following caption: “Chris Ishii two years ago worked as an artist for Walt Disney, he tried to join the army but was turned down for slightly flat feet, then his draft board classed him 1-A but before his hopes were realized he was evacuated from California and his new draft number said 4-C, undesirable alien. In the center Chris created, for center newspapers, a cartoon character “Little Neebo”, humorously depicting the trials and tribulations of a little Nisei boy in evacuation centers. Here Chris realizes his deepest ambition as he is finger printed by an army sergeant after having been sworn into the Army of the United States, to be sent to Camp Savage, Minnesota.”

After the war, Ishii became a top East Coast designer and eventually served as the creative director of UPA-NY in the late-1950s as well as co-owner of Focus Productions in the 1960s and 1970s. In the UC image archive, I found a photo of a wooden pin created by Chris Ishii featuring his character Lil’ Neebo.

Ishii, who had become an assistant to Ward Kimball in November 1940, went out on stike at Disney in 1941 along with the other Japanese-American artists who worked at the studio including Tom Okamoto, Masao Kawaguchi and James Tanaka. This is a 1943 photo of James Tanaka working at Famous Studios in New York. The caption accompanying his photo says, “James worked for five years in the studios of Walt Disney and secured his present position [at Famous] while at the Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas.”

The archive also has a photo of Tom Inada working at Famous. The photo caption says: “He had just finished a commercial art course at the Sacramento Junior College in California when all persons of Japanese ancestry were evacuated from the west coast. He lived for a year at the Tule Lake Relocation Center.”

And here’s a pic of Tom Inada and James Tanaka working together at Famous.

Below is a 1945 image of Michiko Kataoka (second from left), who had been interned at Manzanar and was attending UCLA at the time of this photo. Judging from her age in the photo and the uniqueness of the name, I’d harbor a guess that she is the artist who went by the name of Michi Kataoka and who worked at UPA as a background painter for a brief period in the early-1950s.

Another female Japanese artist of note, Gyo Fujikawa, who had worked at Disney in the early-1940s, managed to escape internment. This excerpt from her LA Times obituary explains why:

It was Disney who Fujikawa said changed the way she handled bigots during World War II. Unlike her parents and younger brother, she escaped internment because she was living in New York; only Japanese residing on the West Coast were sent to the camps. But Fujikawa traveled frequently, and when people became suspicious of her, she often told them she was really Anna May Wong, the Chinese American actress. According to her nephew, Fujikawa took secret delight in this masquerade.

But when she told Disney that she often lied about her heritage, he exploded. “Damn it! Why should you say that? You’re an American citizen,” he said.

“From that moment on,” Fujikawa recounted recently, “that’s exactly what I did tell them.”

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Six animated nominees revealed for Asian TV Awards

Six shows from five countries have been nominated in the Best Animation category of this year's Asian Television Awards.

Nominees are Turtle (Miditech Pvt Ltd., India), Dogstar Episode 16 -- "Hounded" (Media World Pictures, Australia), Hoshi Shinichi's Short Shorts (NHK -- Japan Broadcasting Corp., Japan), Chhota Bheem (Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, Hong Kong), Chiro (Inconic Entertainment Co. Ltd., South Korea) and Ostrich (Miditech Ptv Ltd., India).

The Asian TV Awards are now in their 13th year. Winners will be announced December 11 at the Hotel InterContinental in Singapore.

Fifty-four judges were chosen from TV networks throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Sita Sings the Blues director up for Spirit Award

Nina Paley, director of the animated feature film "Sita Sings the Blues," has been nominated for this year's Film Independent's Spirit Awards, organizers announced Tuesday morning in Los Angeles.

Paley was nominated for the 15th annual Acura Someone to Watch Award, which recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Acura.

Born in Champaign, Illinois, Paley, 40, is a longtime veteran of syndicated comic strips, creating Fluff (Universal Press Syndicate), The Hots (King Features), and her own alternative weekly Nina's Adventures. In 1998, she began making independent animated festival films, including the controversial yet popular environmental short The Stork.

In 2002, Paley followed her then-husband to Trivandrum, India, where she read her first Ramayana. This inspired her first feature, Sita Sings The Blues, which she animated and produced single-handedly over the course of five years on a home computer. Paley teaches at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan and is a 2006 Guggenheim Fellow.

Other finalists for the Acura Someone to Watch Award are Barry Jenkins, director of Medicine for Melancholy, and Lynn Shelton, director of My Effortless Brilliance.

The 2009 Film Independent's Spirit Awards ceremony will air uncut, uncensored and commercial-free February 21 on IFC (Independent Film Channel). An edited re-broadcast of the ceremony will air later that evening on AMC.

Film Independent is a non-profit membership organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds the audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Anyone passionate about film, whether a filmmaker, film industry leader or film lover, can become a member.

Mountain fall kills "Postcards from Buster" editor

Chihiro "Cherry" Enoki, an Emmy-nominated editor for the partly animated children's series Postcards From Buster, died from head injuries during a fall while hiking Friday on Mount Shasta in Northern California, authorities said Tuesday.

Enoki, 33, fell 600 to 1,500 feet at 8:30 a.m. while climbing the icy Avalanche Gulch route "hitting rocks all the way down," the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department said.

Co-produced by Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc., WGBH Boston and Marc Brown Studios, Postcards from Buster airs on PBS. She also worked on the WGBH series FETCH!, which combines animation with live action.

This year, Enoki shared a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Multiple Camera Editing for her work on the family series Design Squad.

Enoki was also photo animation editor of the 2000 documentary George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire. It won awards from the International Documentary Association, San Francisco International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival and Writers Guild of America.

The Brooklyn, New York resident was 11,300 feet up with two male friends from San Francisco when she slipped, sheriffs spokeswoman Margie Loher said.

"There was snow all over. A lot of people underestimate the hazards of the mountain because you can drive up to 10,000 feet and it looks like a day's walk," Loher told the Los Angeles Daily News. "But it's so treacherous with the snow, you start sliding and you can't stop," she said. "They had crampons and ice axes, but they weren't wearing helmets."

An autopsy conducted Monday at a Yreka, California funeral chapel revealed that the Japanese-born Enoki died from massive head injuries sustained in the fall, sheriff's spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp said.

Investigators had not identified her until late Monday, when Los Angeles-area family members were notified of her death, Gravenkamp told the Medford, Oregon Mail Tribune.

The two men with Enoki were identified as Christopher James Kraul, 30, and Gordon Clement Clark, 28.

Enoki and the other two carried ice axes and wore crampons -- but not helmets -- while climbing the route on the southwest side of 14,400-foot Mount Shasta when the accident occurred, deputies said. Enoki was in an area called the "Heart" when she slipped and fell, deputies said.

Kraul and Clark said that she was not breathing, had no pulse and had suffered major head injuries when they reached her after she fell. The pair administered CPR, but Enoki did not respond to attempts to resuscitate her, said police.

They flagged down two Arizona hikers from another group. One of them activated a personal locator beacon and used his cell phone to alert authorities, deputies said.

All four men helped move Enoki's body down to an area just above Lake Helen, where she was pronounced dead. Her body was airlifted from the mountain by helicopter, police said.

A Tufts University graduate, Chihiro "Cherry" Enoki is survived by older brother Yoshi Enoki Jr., a location manager.

Editor Cherry Enoki with Rob Fitz, director of God of Vampires, a horror film in progress.

"SpongeBob vs. The Big One" Coming to DVD

A new SpongeBob SquarePants DVD entitled "SpongeBob vs. The Big One" will contain six never-before-seen episodes, plus a double length episode is the same name as the DVD title. "SpongeBob vs. The Big One" will include a guest voice by Johnny Depp. It is set for release on 3/3/09. Special features will include "Plankton's Special Sinister Commentary" and a "Ridin' the Hook" music video.

Kevin McKidd still in talks for THOR

Actor Kevin McKidd (late of 'Journeyman' and 'Rome') told IGN that he's still a contender for the lead role in Marvel's 'Thor' movie.

The actor said there's been "a lot of back and forth" with Marvel about the movie and he's very excited by the attachment of Kenneth Branagh as director.

McKidd also confirmed that he is up for the lead role, and not a supporting role as previously may have been presumed.

Miller Is Still ON Justice League After All!!

A few days ago, Dark Horizons posted a story that was quickly linked out to by many sites. Said story involved George Miller's appearance on an Australian morning show called Sunrise, where Miller revealed he was now completely uninvolved with the long-brewing Justice League movie project.

Turns out, THIS NEVER HAPPENED. A release from Kennedy Miller Mitchell sharply debunked the reports, saying:

This scoop was entirely fabricated.

George Miller did not appear on the ‘Sunrise Morning Show’ let alone confirm anything about JUSTICE League or Mad Max. The facts are indeed the complete opposite to what was reported.

News on Ghibli's Next Two Films; Reception for Totoro Forest Project on Dec 16, 2008 has a brief writeup of Studio Ghibli's production diary, noting a speech by famed director Hayao Miyazaki titled, ""How Do We (Ghibli) Get over the Severe World" and an announcement that two new feature films were underway from "young staff members." The same article also states that the preparation room for Isao Takahata's next film has already been set up.

Elsewhere, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, CA, will be hosting the opening reception for the Totoro Forest Project exhibition on December 16, 2008, from 7-9 PM. Admission is free, and special guests to the reception include Pixar Animation Studios artists Dice Tsutsumi, Enrico Casarosa and Ronnie Del Carmen and the San Francisco Art Museum's Yukino Pang. The exhibition will run until February 8, 2009, displaying art that was auctioned to raise more than $200,000 for the Totoro no Furusato National Fund. For more details, visit the Cartoon Art Museum's website.

Ruth Clampett’s Blog

Bob Clampett’s daughter Ruth has started a blog!

Baby Ruthy’s Blog is an extension of Ruth’s Wildsville Gallery where she sells limited edition art based on Warner Bros. and DC Comics properties (as well as Beany & Cecil originals). She plans to post a few times a week and will definitely dip into the Clampett personal archives for topics to discuss. I know several fans (including myself) who will be regularly checking in to see what Ruthy has to show and tell.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Parra’s Art and Animation

Inappropriate it may be, but the music video for Lele’s “Breakfast” gets a chuckle out of me. The raunchy lyrics (NSFW) are made that much funnier by the crude animation that illustrate the words literally. The drawings in the video are by Piet Parra, who is also a member of the band. It is the first animation work done by Parra, though he is a well known Dutch illustrator who runs runs the clothing label Rockwell. Parra, whose style owes a lot to Sixties and Seventies graphic trends, didn’t exactly animate the piece so much as he made a bunch of illustrations that were later timed out to the music by another artist, Sandder.

There’s an extensive interview with Parra on the Submarine Channel. His description of working in animation for the first time is rather amusing:

Yeah, that was a lot of work. Especially since I had never animated before. Jezus! And Sandder helped a lot. He did the editing. I just made the drawings. We kind have a double process going on. I draw everything onto paper first and then I scan it in and trace it in Illustrator, so that it becomes vector. That way I can scale it. Then Sandder took all the single frames and put those into a program to do the editing. He also took care of the timing, made sure it all matched up with the beats. I would be drawing and after thirty frames I thought, oh well, that’s more than enough, but with that you only actually fill a second and a half. It’s completely crazy! That’s why some parts are repeated. Otherwise we would still be working on it.

A new exhibit of Parra’s artwork titled “Boo to the Hoo” opens this Friday, December 5, in Paris at the The Lazy Dog (2 Passage Thiere 75011). Opening reception is from 6-9pm with an afterparty at Le Regine.

Also worth checking out is this video documentary with Parra. The final minute is particularly interesting as he shows a clip from a Famous Popeye cartoon that directly inspired a new series of MacBook and iPhone sleeves that he recently created:

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Voice Director Andrea Romano Discusses Upcoming "Wonder Woman" Animated Feature

Warner Bros. has released a new studio-conducted interview with Andrea Romano, the voice director of the upcoming Wonder Woman DC Universe direct-to-video, set to release on DVD and Blu-ray on March 3rd, 2009.


Andrea Romano, arguably the best known casting/dialogue director on the animation scene today, brings the voices of yet another DC Universe animated original film to life with Wonder Woman. Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation are set to release the all-new film on March 3, 2009, as distributed by Warner Home Video. The action-packed movie will also be available OnDemand and Pay-Per-View as well as available for download day and date, March 3, 2009.

Wonder Woman is the fourth DC Universe film in the ongoing series, and Romano has returned – after the first three successful ventures – to cast and direct the likes of Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Virginia Madsen, Oliver Platt and Rosario Dawson. In an industry that once treated voiceovers with the anonymity of the witness protection plan, Romano has become a household name to legions of animation fans. Just name a show – Animaniacs or Smurfs, Batman: The Animated Series and any of Warner Bros. Animation's super hero series – and fans shout "Andrea Romano" in their beloved credits roll call in harmony with names like "Bruce Timm" and "Alan Burnett."

Romano began her career as an actress in New York before switching coasts and paths, accepting a position as a Hollywood voiceover agent's assistant. Over five-plus years, she moved from a large talent agency to a smaller boutique agency, learning the business before shifting into casting for Hanna-Barbera in 1984. Since then, Romano has been one of the most in-demand voiceover casting and dialogue directors, steering the vocal end of productions at virtually all of the major studios.

She has been nominated for Emmy Awards a total of 18 times, and there are six Emmys standing tall in her home – well, proud as they can stand when attired in Barbie clothes. Romano enjoys dressing her statuettes.

Romano has made her mark in every genre of animation, and her weekly workload today is a perfect example. When she isn't orchestrating the casting and voicing of the latest DC Universe animated original movie or Warner Bros. Animation TV series, she's directing
SpongeBob SquarePants or skipping across the globe directing the international casts of Kung Fu Panda.

Renowned for considering 250-300 actors for lead roles, Romano is as comfortable directing the voiceover world's legion of "stars" as she is guiding feature film and primetime television celebrities through their lines, often times during the celeb's maiden voyages in animation. She is revered throughout the industry for her instant vocabulary with her actors, and treated with rock star status at fanboy conventions from North America to Australia.

Romano found time between recording sessions to discuss the stellar
Wonder Woman cast, the intricacies of matching voices to roles, a little advice to the masses of hopeful voiceover artists, and a short list of actors she one-day hopes to direct.

For your entertainment and education, a Q&A with
Wonder Woman
casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano ...

Question: You seem to glide easily between a diverse array of projects, running the gamut from silly shows for Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. to the wacky world of SpongeBob SquarePants, and then into the more serious, action-oriented Avatar: The Last Airbender and DC Comics super heroes. Do you have a preference between the different genres?

Andrea Romano answers:
I love the fact that my job gives me the chance to do every different kind of animated project, and these days the projects couldn't be more varied or diverse. I can't say that I specifically have a favorite. Moreover, it's the variety that keeps me stimulated, keeps me interested. There was a period of time when I was doing a lot of action shows, and I do love them and I'm not complaining one bit, but I missed the silly. So I really do enjoy the variety.

Question: You've stated previously that you have trouble narrowing a list of favorite actors with whom you've worked. But do you have a list of actors you've yet to engage whom you'd still like to get behind the microphone?

Andrea Romano answers:
There are several actors that I have not yet had the chance to work with that I'm determined to work with at some point. Actors like James Woods, Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti, to name a few. I'd kill to direct Jeremy Irons. I think George Clooney is a wonderful, versatile actor, and I think he could do really incredible, silly things in animation – things that he doesn't really get the chance to do in live-action. Most of those actors are so busy that they wouldn't be able to say 'yes' to an animated project, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to go after them. I'm not afraid to go after any actor.

What's the worse that can happen? They might turn me down, but maybe they'll say yes. I'm going to work for another 25 years and so, as long as they can continue to speak and sing and be silly, I will hire them. I'm not done yet.

Question: Voiceover work is still a relatively anonymous role, and yet Andrea Romano walks into a Con panel before a 1,500-seat capacity crowd and she's greeted like a rock star. What's that like for you?

Andrea Romano answers:
I'm always astounded that people know who I am and what I do. I'll go to San Diego and people will actually follow me through the building and very politely tug on my shirt and say, 'Excuse me, are you Andrea Romano?' I'm blown away every time it happens. I still have a lot of anonymity and that's good. I don't get bothered in restaurants and stuff like that. But when I'm at events that are really geared toward animation fans, they know who I am. And I'm so very pleased and so flattered by it. People are extremely complimentary to me, and that only encourages me to continue to do more really good work. I get paid by the studios, but I know I work for the fans.

Question: Seemingly everyone believes they could do voiceovers for animation. What's your ultimate advice for those seeking to make that career move?

Andrea Romano answers:
I know what advice I won't give anymore. At the last Comic-Con, I gave my stock answer to that question, which was 'Send large expensive presents directly to my office.' A few months later, I get this enormous gift basket. It was stunning -- a bottle of wine, three different kinds of cheeses, pesto sauce, pasta … and a demo tape. I had to call the guy and say 'I can't accept this, I'm uncomfortable with this,' but he said 'No, no, no – I work in the industry. It's okay, it's legal. I admire your work, and this is really just a thank you for everything you've done. If you have chance to listen to my demo tape, that's just great, if you don't that's fine, too.' But it was still a very weird moment for me.

For people who seriously want to get into voiceover acting, clearly the most important thing is that you must be a good actor. That comes first. That's why celebrities get so much work in voiceovers – we've seen their work, we know they're good actors. So take acting classes. Then take voice acting classes – and there is a difference. There are techniques specific to voice acting that you must learn. Not popping your Ps and how to stay on-microphone, especially during the physical scenes, and how to create the impact sounds. Getting punched and throwing a punch are two different sounds. Sneezing, burping, whistling and kissing all require silly little tricks. These are very specific techniques, and all are taught in voiceover classes.

Once you feel very secure in your acting and voiceover techniques, put together a voiceover demo – and only showcase your best work. Include things that are novel and new. If you do impressions, great, but let it be an impression that's unusual and different. We don't need to hear John Wayne. Include examples of accents, dialects, singing, singing in character, character voices. And you don't have to be massively versatile if you have an interesting voice and you're a good actor. Sterling Holloway and Ben Stein are good examples of people with interesting voices. But you do need to be able to act through your interesting voice. Finally, once you've put together your demo, you need to get it to all the agents and casting people and animation companies in town. Follow-up and keep following up, and hopefully somebody bites.

Question: The DC Universe films are very celebrity-laden voice casts. Do you ever purposely cast against types for those roles, and when is it okay to have an actor reprise a role or be cast in consecutive films?

Andrea Romano answers:
Sometimes it's really fun to cast against type just to let the actor stretch a little bit more, to do something they don't normally get the chance to do on camera. It's very liberating for an actor when they don't have to worry if they're blonde enough or young enough or tall enough. If the voice is right and they can act, they can do a role for me.

Casting is sometimes like going to a party. You get there and everybody at the party is wonderful. They're funny, they're interesting, and the next time you go to a party, you kind of want those same people there. I do find myself going back to a lot of the same actors I've worked with because it was fun, it was good and I know they can do the job. When we have tight deadlines to cast a project, that's how some decisions are made. We've all seen animated projects and thought, 'That person was the perfect voice for that role,' but what few people know is what it took to get that performance. Was it 50 takes per line or did they nail it on the first try? When the schedule is tight, you go with the people you know will get the job done quickly and well.

Question: How often are you surprised by an actors' performance?

Andrea Romano answers:
Quite often, and I mean that in a good way. A lot of times we cast actors who haven't done voiceovers before, and because voiceover work is different from on-camera, you're not sure what's going to happen in the booth. Wonder Woman is Keri Russell's first animated role, and she was amazing. Then there are moments when everything just clicks and the impossible happens. There was a project I did years ago in which Rob Paulsen, the wonderful voice of Pinky in Pinky and the Brain and Yakko Warner in Animaniacs, had to sing all the countries of the world, from start to finish. The man did it in a single take! Then he asked if he could have a second take? (she laughs) Of course, he could have a second take. But the truth is he nailed it the first time, which is stunning. So you never know what you're going to get.

Question: Which leads us to that stellar Wonder Woman cast. What exactly does Keri Russell bring to the title character?

Andrea Romano answers:
Keri Russell has such a wonderful, youthful sound to her voice and yet, there's a really nice underlying tone of strength. That's exactly what you need for Wonder Woman. This is the story of her first finding out what civilization is like, so there has to be a youthful innocence and, at the same time, she's got to have the strength to kick butt and not take garbage from anybody. Keri absolutely has that. She's a terrific actress, and that combination of vulnerability, youth and strength in the voice is perfect for this role.

Question: What made Nathan Fillion right for Steve Trevor?

Andrea Romano answers:
I'm just so in love with Nathan Fillion. He is this great, silly, playful, fun-loving actor who also knows when and how to get down to business. Nathan brought all of that to the voice work in this project, and that made him exactly right for Steve Trevor. The character has to be smart, he's got to be trustworthy, but also silly and vulnerable and, in his own way, kind of a buffoon. He's going to make a fool of himself overseeing these ridiculously beautiful amazons. Nathan just fell into that role perfectly.

Qustion: How did you settle on Alfred Molina as Ares?

Andrea Romano answers:
Who doesn't like Alfred Molina? I have admired him for so many years and he had done some work for me before. He's extremely busy, constantly working – we lucked out that he was available. Ares is strong and full of himself – there's a huge ego there. Fred doesn't have that kind of ego, but he can act it beautifully. He also has the physical strength in his voice that mirrors the character, and an aspect to his voice where you could believe that he could convince someone to do what he wanted in a way that they don't even know they're being convinced. Finally, because Ares is the God of War, his presence creates violence around him – and as gentle a soul as Fred is, there's something about what he brought into the booth that makes that emotion completely believable.

Question: Rosario Dawson was a natural fit as the warrior Artemis?

Andrea Romano answers:
Rosario Dawson is such a beautiful woman and a beautiful person, and a comic book fan. I had always been looking for something that I thought was appropriate for her and, with this strong female character, Rosario's name popped to mind instantly. She's got a presence in her voice that is so right that you immediately believe this is an Amazon warrior. Artemis is tough and strong and smart, and I believe Rosario is all of that as both a person and an actress. So we had a perfect match.

Question: Were you looking to balance all of that female bravado with Virginia Madsen in the stately role as Hippolyta?

Andrea Romano answers:
I needed a strong, somewhat mature female voice for Hippolyta and, as the Amazon women are all stunning, I needed voices that also brought that beauty into it. That made Virginia Madsen kind of a no-brainer. She's got that beautiful, husky quality to her voice that resonates with strength and a little bit of maturity, and she's got real femininity to her voice that embodies the beauty. It was a great marriage of actress and character.

Question: Oliver Platt is another virtual rookie to voiceovers. What did he bring to the role of Hades?

Andrea Romano answers:
For Wonder Woman, I hired more on-camera actors that I admire than almost any other project that I've ever worked on. I have been an enormous fan of Oliver Platt. I just think he is funny, touching, talented, strong and sympathetic. When you listen to his voice, there's a real distinctive quality to it. He's a great example of a voice with character. And wait 'til you hear him as Hades – his voice and the character match so brilliantly and the acting is spot on. He was the absolute right guy for the voice.

Please visit the film's official website at

"Wonder Woman" (c) Warner Bros. Ent Inc. "Wonder Woman" and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and (c) DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

The direct-to-video Wonder Woman animated feature hits DVD and Blu-ray on March 3rd, 2009.

Channel 4 Gets Lost for Christmas

Channel 4 in the U.K. will charm viewers over the Christmas holiday with Lost and Found, an animated adaptation of Oliver Jeffers’ book of the same name. The half-hour special from Contender Entertainment Group and Studio AKA will premiere at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and will repeat at 12:30 p.m. on Boxing Day.

Lost and Found is a magical tale of friendship that revolves around a little boy who one day finds a penguin on his doorstep. At first, the boy doesn’t know what to do, but soon becomes determined to help the penguin find his way back home by rowing a small boat all the way to the South Pole. Along the way, he discovers that maybe home wasn't what the penguin was looking for after all. The program is narrated by Oscar-winning actor Jim Broadbent, and features a score by composer Max Richter.

Published by Harper Collins, the bestselling book was released in 2005 and won the Blue Peter Book of the Year and the Nestle Gold Prize. Jeffers’ story has been adapted for the screen by by director Philip Hunt and the team at animation shop Studio AKA. The studio most recently produced animated commercials for Lloyds TSB, and its short film
Jo Jo in the Stars
won the BAFTA for Best Animated Short Film and the prestigious Cartoon d’Or at Cartoon Forum.

Exclusive Wolverine Clip

The good folks at Nicktoons Network have provided Animation Magazine an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming animated series Wolverine and the X-Men. The 26-episode superhero adventure is scheduled to debut on Nicktoons on Jan. 23 at 8 p.m., and will later be released on DVD by Lionsgate. Watch the clip and the series trailer on AniMagTV.

Co-produced by Marvel Ent., Toonz Ent. in Singapore and First Serve International Ltd. in India, Wolverine & The X-Men revolves around the complex and mysterious leader of a group of super-powered mutants including Jean Grey, Emma Frost, Rogue and Mystique. There will also be special guest appearances from various other Marvel characters including The Hulk.

The action begins as an explosive event shatters the lives of the X-Men and takes away their mentor, Professor X. The beaten heroes, including Beast, Storm, Cyclops and Nightcrawler, are given a rare glimpse into the future, seeing a world in utter ruin and ruled by giant destructive robots. They discover the world has spiraled out of control because the X-Men have given up. Now Wolverine must take the lead on the ultimate mission—to prevent the world's destruction while fending off enemies Magneto and The Brotherhood.

Street Date for Resident Evil: Degeneration

The war against the zombies is on again, and this time it's animated. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment announced that it will release the direct-to-video toon feature Resident Evil: Degeneration on DVD, Blu-ray and PSP on Dec. 27. The CG sequel takes place seven years after the Raccoon City incident and has a horde of zombies unleashed at a major US airport.

Responding to a Level 5 Alert, Special Agent Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield discover flesh devouring zombies rampaging throughout Harvardville Airport. After rescuing Senator Davis from a grisly death, the pair learn that Curtis, a revenge-seeking terrorist, has masterminded the attack. Before they can catch him, Curtis injects himself with a sinister G virus and morphs into a monster. Now Leon and Claire must take down the mutated man-creature before he annihilates the planet.

This first animated
Resident Evil production is produced by renown video-game producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi (associate producer of Resident Evil: Apocalypse and producer of Resident Evil 4 and Devil May Cry 4
), and directed by Makoto Kamiya (special effects director of L: Change The World, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack).

Extra features to be included on the disc include a sneak peek at the Resident Evil 5 video game, the making-of featurette The Generation of Degenertion, character profiles, voice bloopers, a trailer collection and a special interview with the character Leon. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is the Interactive Picture-in-Picture (I-PIP) function, which gives viewers real-time access to multiple picture-in-picture streams featuring feature-length animatics, motion capture sessions and storyboards running concurrently with the movie. The title will carry a suggested retail price of $27.96 in DVD, $39.95 on Blu-ray and $24.94 on PSP. More information on the film can be found at

Glu to Publish Watchmen Mobile Game

Glu Mobile Inc. will publish a mobile video game based on Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming superhero flick Watchmen. The title will launch worldwide in conjunction with the March 6 domestic opening of the film, an eagerly awaited adaptation of DC Comics’ 1985 Hugo Award-winning graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Watchmen: The Mobile Game
is the fifth title to be developed and published by Glu through its licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. Previous games include Speed Racer, The Dark Knight, Superman/Batman: Heroes United and Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rescue
. Watchmen will be supported by a suite of personalization content which will be available to consumers in early 2009. For more information, go to

The Watchmen movie is being directed by Zack Snyder, who previously helmed Warner Bros.’ box office smash 300 and Universal’s successful 2004 remake of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. The cast of Watchmen includes Patrick Wilson as Niteowl, Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, Malin Ackerman as Silk Spectre, Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian and Matthew Goode as Ozymandias.

Animated "Slaves" winner of documentary award

"Slaves – An Animated Documentary," featuring conversations with two freed children from southern Sudan, received the Silver Cub Award at the 21st International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam on Saturday.

The 15-minute film, co-produced in Sweden, Norway and Denmark by Hanna Heilbronn and David Aronowitsch, won the Silver Cub Competition, for documentaries up to 30 minutes. A 5,000-euro ($6,300 U.S.) award came with the win.

Made by Story AB, Pausefilm ApS and Medieoperatørene, Slaves – An Animated Documentary recorded the conversations with the two Sudanese children who had been kidnapped by a government-supported militia and forced into slavery.

The filmmakers stressed the the film's documentary nature by keeping the sound of the children messing around with the recording equipment before the conversation begins, by not editing out the children's interpreter, and by not adding any music.

The conversations took place in 2003, when the 20-year-long civil war in southern Sudan was drawing to a close. The family names of the two children, aged 9 and 15, have been bleeped out to protect their privacy.

In this manner, the three-dimensional, stylistically simplified computer animation, with realistic depth of field and lighting, is a safeguard for their identity. Furthermore, the choice for animation offers the possibility to represent the horrific experiences the children describe.

In these scenes, we hear them in voiceover as the almost black-and-white images turn into bright colors: flaming red when the village is set ablaze and the children, confronted with the murder and molestation of their families, are taken off by the militia. And a shadowy and almost abstract series of images full of colors as one of them tells of a dream about his parents.

This year's International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam drew 40,000 audience members.

No comments: