Friday, December 19, 2008

News - 12/19/08...

The Tale of Despereaux clips, featurettes, and more

Coinciding with the release of the film, COLLIDER shares six movie clips, two featurettes and more from Universal’s upcoming animated feature The Tale of Despereaux. Directed by Sam Fell and featuring the voices of Matthew Broderick, Ben Falcone, Emma Watson, Tony Hale and Dustin Hoffman, Despereaux tells the tale of a tiny mouse with oversized ears who refuses to live a life of fear.

In addition, the website has also posted an article featuring an interview with the voice cast of Despereaux, including Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, Emma Watson and Sigourney Weaver.

The Tale of Despereaux opens today

Krause Twosome Make The Upstate Four

The Upstate Four is an 11-minute Flash-animated pilot that was co-created by brothers Fran and Will Krause. It boasts a refreshing look, a high-drawing count and a big award – namely the Best Animation for Children honor at this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival. Fran, a graduate of RISD, directed, animated and co-wrote it along with brother Will. The production turned to Bunko Studios for animation, where Sean McBride, Chris Seimasko, Jessica Plummer, Frank Suarez, Lizzi Akana, Kristen Chaippone, David Concepcion, Otis Brayboy, Naree Song, Sarah Ramert and Adrienne Smith joined the animation effort. Have a watch:



Majel Barrett, 76, was widow of Gene Roddenberry  

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, known as "The First Lady of Star Trek" for her marriage to late creator Gene Roddenberry, died Thursday morning at her home in Los Angeles' Bel-Air neighborhood. She was 76.

Often credited on the screen as Majel Barrett, she died of leukemia, said family spokesman Sean Rossall. Family friends and her son, Eugene Roddenberry Jr., were at her side.

She was involved in keeping alive the flame of the pioneering science-fiction TV series after her husband's death in 1991.

Along with Leonard Nimoy, sBoldhe was one of only two actors to appear in both the first and last episodes of the original 1966 Star Trek series. 

The voice of the ship's computer in
Star Trek TV series and films, Roddenberry finished the same role for the upcoming J.J. Abrams movie Star Trek about two weeks ago, Rossall said. She was also the blond, mini-skirted Nurse Christine Chapel in the original 1966-69 show, and portrayed dark-haired Number One, the no-nonsense second-in-command, in the series pilot.

In Filmation's 1970s
Star Trek: The Animated Series, she voiced Nurse Chapel and the Enterprise Computer, as well as Lt. M'Ress and various guest characters.

Roddenberry voiced Anna Watson in a dozen episodes of Marvel's 1990s
Spider-Man cartoon series.

The 2001
Family Guy episode "Emission Impossible" cast her in the familiar guest voice of the Ship Computer. And in Special Entertainment's sci-fi comedy movie Hamlet A.D.D.
, set for release next year, she provided the Queen Robot's voice.

Roddenberry helped keep Star Trek going by inspiring fans and attending a major fanvention each year, said Rossall. Though having little involvement in other TV and film versions of ST, she had small roles in all five television successors and many of its movies.

"I think Star Trek will always be her legacy," Rossall said.

"My mother truly acknowledged and appreciated the fact that Star Trek fans played a vital role in keeping the Roddenberry dream alive for the past 42 years. It was her love for the fans, and their love in return, that kept her going for so long after my father passed away," her son said in a statement on the official Roddenberry Web site.

According to Rossall, Roddenberry and her husband believed in creating "thoughtful entertainment." They were proud of the show and its fans' devotion, he added.

Roddenberry was born Majel Lee Hudec in Cleveland on Feb. 23, 1932. She began taking acting classes as a child and had some stage roles.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, she had bit parts in some movies and small roles in such TV series as Leave It to Beaver and Bonanza.

She met her husband in 1964, while he was still married to his first wife. She was guesting for The Lieutenant, a Marine Corps drama that he produced called The Lieutenant. That same year, she was cast in the pilot for the Star Trek series. Although NBC executives didn't like the first pilot and a second one was made, parts of the original pilot reappeared in The Menagerie, a two-part episode.

The couple had been lovers for years. In 1969, after
Star Trek was cancelled, they had a Shinto-Buddhist wedding while Gene Roddenberry was visiting in Japan. The Star Trek
creator did not subscribe to any particular religion.

They considered the Japanese ceremony to be their real wedding, although Gene Roddenberry's divorce was not yet final. Later that year, following his divorce, they had a legal civil ceremony.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry was the executive producer for the science-fiction TV series
Andromeda and Earth: Final Conflict

At the Network of Cartoons

I spent a long stretch of a rainy Wednesday afternoon at Cartoon Network's Burbank Studio, where I chatted up three floors of animation artists and directors and got informed of the following:

Chowder is winding down on what is -- apparently -- the final nine half-hours of the series.

Thirteen half-hours of Adventure Time -- out of the prolific development shop of Mr. Fred Seibert -- launched last week. (If you follow the link, you will note that Adventure Time the short was produced a while ago ... and produced under the umbrella of Fred S./Random Cartoons/Nickelodeon. But AT has since moved over to Cartoon Network ...)

The 20 new episodes of Flapjack are well underway (but you know this from the previous post about CN, do you not?)

And there are 39 shorts in development at the studio (which I call "son of workshop of Fred S."). And a Wise Old Animation Vet told me:

"I would be real surprised if the studio doesn't get two, three or more series going from this crop of shorts. I don't think they'll roll new series out all at once, but one at a time. Over a couple of years."

Would that it will happen. (And I got to see a loop of test animation from one of the shorts, and whattayaknow! It looks like a cartoon! An old time, hand-drawn type cartoon!)

(What a concept!)

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Chow Passes on Directing GREEN HORNET

Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle) has dropped out as director but will still play Kato in Columbia Pictures' The Green Hornet, reports Variety. Just a few months after he was announced as director, the trade contributes Chow's decision to pass on the position over "creative differences". The latest bid to get the crimefighter to the bigscreen has been stalling for years but the recent script from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg along with having Chow on board gained some traction for Columbia and producer Neal Moritz, who still hopes to begin production by the spring.

The script will likely be polished, and a director could be in place by year's end.

The character began on radio in the 1930s and is best known from the '60s TV version which starred kung fu icon Bruce Lee.

New and Upcoming in Japan


Detective Conan: The Raven Chaser
Naruto (sixth movie)
Naruto (upcoming on TV storyline)
Pandora Hearts
Pocket Monster Diamond & Pearl: Chokoku no Jiku e
Samurai Zombie

Via AstroBoy World the live action adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Mw

Sci-fi Japan has a look at the film


Via, Ghibli's production diary announced the storyboards for latest Studio Ghibli Museum short film is complete. The contents are still a secret and there is no information about the director. The entry mentions that the film is nostalgic and pretty.

According to Active Anime, Sky Crawlers will be released on Blu-ray in Japan February 25, 2009

Anime Vice has picked up the details on the Internet OVA shorts featuring The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya SD characters

Main Cast:
Haruhi Suzumiya – Aya Hirano
Kyon – Tomokazu Sugita
Mikuru Asahina – Yuuko Gotou
Itsuki Koizumi – Daisuke Ono
Yuki Nagato – Minori Chihara
Tsuruya-san – Yuki Matsuoka
Taniguchi – Minoru Shiraishi
Kunikida – Megumi Matsumoto
Kyon's Little Sister – Sayaka Aoki

Whew! No surprises there-- the entire cast is back.

Main Staff:
Original Creators – Nagaru Tanigawa and Noizi Itou
Manga Creators (of Haruhi-chan and Nyoro~n Tsuruya-san) – Puyo and Eretto, respectively
Director – Yasuhiro Takemoto (Full Metal Panic!)
Character Design – Futoshi Nishiya
Color Design – Naomi Ishida (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
Art Director – Mutsuo Shinohara (Clannad)
Director of Photography – Ryuuta Nakagami (Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid)

Via Anime News Network

NTV will be replacing their Monday 7:00pm "Anime 7" programming block with an hour long weekday news program. The slot is currently running Detective Conan and Yatterman.

NewType revealed that Koji Masunari (Read or Die, Kamichu!) will be producing his first threatrical anime with A-1 Pictures. R.O.D. collaberators writer Hideyuki Kurata and character designer Masashi Ishihama are working with Masunari on a project called the Uchu Show, which may or may not be the this film.

An OVA adaptation of shoujo manga/TV drama Minami-ke will be released in January

TOHO will be releasing a Duel Masters Cross anime movie in fall 2009.

A magazine advertisement has reportedly announced that an original video adaptation of Tarako Kotobuki's Sex Pistols boys-love manga has been green-lit. Tokyopop's Blu imprint published the manga — which has no relation to the British punk rock band of the same name — in North America under the name Love Pistols. The "science love fiction" story revolves around a high school boy who discovers that he is part of a select group of humans who did not evolve from monkeys, but various animals such as leopards and black bears. The manga ran in Biblos' Magazine Be-Boy from 2003 to 2006, and five compiled manga volumes and four audio drama CDs have been released.

The Business

VIZ Media, LLC and Warner Home Video have reached agreement for the home entertainment distribution in the United States and Mexico of new and catalog DVD releases from VIZ Media.

Jeff Brown, WHV Executive Vice President and General Manager, TV, Family and Animation has said “the association between Warner Home Video and VIZ Media demonstrates our continued commitment to the growing sector of anime. Adding to our previous success with The Animatrix and Appleseed: Ex Machina, we are looking forward to a successful relationship with VIZ Media, one of the top players in the anime genre and children’s animation.”

The Beat has confirmed that TOKYOPOP has laid off eight stuff including Bryce Coleman

Marketing director Marco Pavia told the Beat “It’s one of the worst selling periods in history. We’re trying to be responsive to the new realities, and unfortunately some very talented people have been cut.”

MangaBlog notes that other effected staff members include Jenna Winterberg, who edited the novels and the co-productions with HarperCollins, and Hyun Joo Kim, who oversaw the Hee Jung Park manhwa.


Citing, the "current challenging economic environment," 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. has announced cost cutting initiatives including a workforce reduction of approximately 15% across all subsidiaries and divisions. As a result of the staff cuts, the Company will be incurring severance costs of approximately $375,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008. . The Company has also completed a comprehensive review of its operations and will be taking steps intended to reduce operating expenses by an additional $4 - $5 million in 2009.

These staff reductions and projected cuts in operating expenses, together with the early termination of the 4Kids/ Fox Broadcasting Company Agreement effective December 31, 2008 which was previously announced on November 10, 2008, are expected to result in pretax savings of $15 - $18 million in 2009.

"We have taken some critical steps to respond to the litany of challenges presented by the worldwide economic crisis," said Alfred R. Kahn, Chairman and CEO of 4Kids Entertainment. “The streamlining of our organization and further reduction in operating expenses will better position the Company to ride out the current economic storm”.


The San Francisco Business Times reports that anime-based social networking site Gaia Online has laid off 13% of its staff, including 16 full-time and 20 contractor positions.

On Monday, the San Jose Mercury News had a story quoting Gaia CEO Craig Sherman as saying that the company sells more than $1 million a month of virtual goods and expects a record month in December.

“With the current economic conditions, we found it necessary to turn to staff reductions and other operating cost cuts as we head into an uncertain 2009,” the company said in a statement regarding the cuts. “While we are still anticipating a healthy upcoming year, we’ve adjusted our forecast to reflect the new realities.”

The company said it is growing — just more slowly than anticipated — because its users, and social networks in general, “are somewhat recession-resistant.”

No comments: