Friday, January 9, 2009

News - 01/09/09...

More Than Meets The Red Eyes... TRANSFORMERS 2 teaser poster revealed!

The Teaser poster for TRANSFORMERS 2 has popped up online and it looks EVIL and foreboding, eh? The rumor I hear is that this movie is ridiculously huge. I'm talking the sort of huge that makes the last film look like a Sundance outing. That's probably because Michael Bay is truly let loose with this one. NOW - if that happens and he can bare to settle down a bit with his frame, so an audience member can really track on what is going on - without getting a headache... and if the film is less silly... well, I know all of you agree... even if you liked the first film, there was definite room for improvement, especially in terms of actually making the Transformers into actual characters, instead of just being effects. Right? Let's hope...

Click on the below poster a big version!

Rourke May Wrestle with Iron Man

Hot off his career-reviving role in director Darren Aronofsky’s award-winning filmThe Wrestler, Mickey Rourke may end up putting the smackdown on a popular Marvel superhero. Daily Variety reports that the Sin City actor is in talks to face off against Robert Downey Jr. as the main baddie in Iron Man 2, which Paramount Pictures plans to release in the summer of 2010.

Rourke would play the Crimson Dynamo, a tattooed Russian arms dealer who fights Iron Man in his own nuclear-powered suit of armor. Sam Rockwell (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe) is also negotiating a villainous role in the pic, which director Jon Favreau plans to begin shooting this spring from a script by actor/writer Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder).

After bursting onto the scene in the 1980s with such films as Body Heat, Diner, Rumble Fish and 9 ½ Weeks, Rourke virtually fell off the map of Hollywood stars, appearing mostly in low-budget productions while pursuing a professional boxing career. Director Robert Rodriguez brought him back into the limelight with Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Sin City, in which he won over audiences as Marv, Frank Miller’s vengeful brute with a heart of gold. He also appeared in the Tony Scott films Man on Fire and Domino. On Sunday, Rourke will be sweating it out with the other nominees for Best Actor at the Golden Globe Awards.

People Choose WALL●E, Simpsons, Dark Knight

Disney/Pixar’s WALL●E was voted Favorite Family Film during Wednesday night’s People’s Choice Awards, beating out DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda and Disney/Walden Media’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. However, the night belonged the Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight, which fluttered off with five awards, including Favorite Movie, Favorite Action Movie and Favorite Cast. The Batman pic also earned stars Christian Bale and Heath Ledger a win for Favorite On-Screen Match Up, and saw Bale’s Batman take Favorite Superhero.

The Simpsons proved it’s still keeping the fans in stitches. The long-running comedy from creator Matt Groening was voted Favorite Animated Comedy, besting fellow FOX toon Family Guy and Comedy Central’s South Park
. The win was mentioned briefly by the CG-animated M&M characters, who appeared throughout the show and explained that no one came up to accept the award because none of the Simpsons characters are real.

The 35th Annual People’s Choice Awards was broadcast live on CBS from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Calif. See the complete list of nominees and winners at

Black Freighter Gets Arrrrr Rating

While Warner Bros.’ upcoming superhero epic Watchmen is solidly tailored to the PG-13 crowd, its animated companion piece has been slapped with an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Tales of the Black Freighter, a gruesome pirate story directed by Zack Snyder, was flagged by the organization for its “violent and grisly images,” according to Ain’t It Cool News.

Tales of the Black Freighter is a comic within a comic, and one of the elements that had to be cut from Snyder’s adaptation of Watchmen, the bestselling graphic novel by author Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons. Set to hit retail five days after Watchmen arrives in theaters, the anime-style movie features Gerard Butler (300) as the voice of a shipwrecked seaman struggling to get home and protect his wife and child from attack by a marauding pirate ship. The disc will also include a doc titled Under the Hood, which will explore the backgrounds of the various heroic characters in Watchmen.

Scheduled to open on March 6, 2009, Watchmen is set in a time when superheroes have been outlawed and revolves around a group of caped crusaders who struggle with their own personal demons while trying to avert a nuclear war between the United States and Russia. The cast includes Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino and Malin Akerman.

Henson’s Dinosaur Stomps to PBS KIDS

The Jim Henson Co. has finalized an agreement with PBS KIDS to debut the new CG-animated series Dinosaur Train this fall. Created by Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!), the show encourages basic scientific thinking as the audience learns about natural science, natural history and paleontology. Bartlett and fellow exec producers Brian Henson, Lisa Henson and Halle Stanford are currently working on 40 half-hour episodes of the U.K. production, which is co-produced by Singapore animation company BIG Communications, with the participation and assistance of the Singapore Media Development Authority. Financial support is being provided by Ingenious Media.

Dinosaur Train is seen through the eyes of Buddy, a preschool-aged Tyrannosaurus Rex. Buddy and his adoptive family of Pteranodons embark on adventures on the Dinosaur Train to meet all kinds of dinosaurs in different eras and learn fascinating new facts about these incredible creatures.

The Jim Henson Co. will oversee all ancillary exploitation of the property, including licensing and merchandising, and PBS will handle DVD distribution to consumer and education markets. In addition to its on air presence, the series will have a robust online component at, featuring games, learning tools and more, as well as parent and teacher resources on PBS Parents ( and PBS Teachers ( Created in partnership with multimedia design studio FableVision, the website will extend the curriculum themes of the show and further explore Buddy's world and its inhabitants.

Dinosaur Train will join the Jim Henson Co.'s Sid the Science Kid and other animated series in the PBS KIDS lineup. Additional animated projects for Henson include the Unstable Fables series of direct-to-DVD movies, which features the titles 3 Pigs and a Baby, Tortoise vs. Hare and The Goldilocks and the Three Bears Show.

New Christmas Carol poster

A photograph of a new poster for Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture film A Christmas Carol can be seen at MarketSaw 3D. The one-sheet features a look at the character of Scrooge, who will be played by Jim Carrey. Carrey is also set to portray six other characters in the upcoming Disney movie, which will be screen in traditional as well as 3D compatible theaters. A Christmas Carol opens on November 6th, 2009.

'WordGirl' Animation Meets the Upright Citizens Brigade

WordGirl Goes Live in Los Angeles

As mild-mannered Becky Botsford continues her pursuit of poor grammar tacticians in the educational animated comedy The Adventures of WordGirl, fans of the show will soon have the opportunity to witness language heroine in person. A production of Scholastic Media and Soup2Nuts, WordGirl has been wowing keen parents, building the vocabulary of unsuspecting children, and gaining awards from industry observers for a couple years now. A couple of live-action, theatrical events in Hollywood, California later this month will attest to the series continued success.

Disguised as a young student on the planet earth, Becky's actual identity is of alien origin, coming from Planet Lexicon. A savior of syllables with a passion for persuasion, Becky never hesitates to save those in need, transforming into a super fast and super strong superhero. When WordGirl arrives on the scene, there's usually a syntactical train wreck already in progress. But fortunately for her friends, family and fellow townspeople, WordGirl's honesty and deep knowledge of the English language often save the day from otherwise misguided villains.

Show creator and executive producer Dorothea Gillim is well aware that since the animated series The Adventures of WordGirl first premiered in 2007, it continues to have a strong following.

Toward the end of January 2008, the Hollywood location of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater--which houses a highly active sketch comedy troupe--will be holding two WordGirl performances. The two events are scheduled for Thurs., January 22nd and Friday, January 24th 2008; the first of which is a one-time-only, live onstage reading, the second of which is a meet-and-greet with Gillim herself.

The onstage reading will reportedly feature the comedy skills of Jeffrey Tambor, Dannah Feinglass and Chris Parnell as the voices of the animated characters. Given that The Adventures of WordGirl itself sports a healthy and hilarious cast of comedians and comediennes, the reading will surely be more than a bit surreal. With Captain Huggy Face at her side, WordGirl comes alive. The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (Los Angeles) reading (January 22nd) starts at 8:00pm. Admission is $5.00. Series creators, writers and cast members will take audience questions about the show following the reading.

The second WordGirl-related happening at this theater will be a family event. Dorothea Gillim will be on hand to introduce clips of the animated series, some of which are in various stages of production. A full episode will be screened as well. After the screening, children of all ages will be invited on stage to dance like Captain Huggy Face. For this family event, which takes place at 11:00am, admission is free; however they are only available on a first-come first-serve basis to 90 persons on the day of the show only. The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood is located at 5919 Franklin Ave.

on The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater; The UCB Theatre ( is dedicated to fostering both an appreciation and education of the arts through affordable and high quality comedic performances and classes. UCB is a venue offering improv, stand-up and sketch comedy shows, also regularly feature rising talent culled from our signature training center.

Actor Steven Gilborn, 72, was father on "Ellen"

TV, film and stage character actor Steven Gilborn, whose many roles included Harold Morgan, the father of Ellen DeGeneres' character on Ellen, died Friday of cancer in North Chatham, New York. He was 72.

A humanities professor at MIT before becoming an actor, Gilborn voiced the Old Man in Season 2 of the anime series Big O, co-produced by Sunrise Inc. and ZRO Limited Productions. Produced in 1999, the sci-fi action series first ran in the United States on Cartoon Network in 2001.

Gilborn was noted for this three-episode appearance as Mr. Collins, Kevin Arnold's algebra teacher, on The Wonder Years.

The deep-voiced actor also appeared on such TV shows as Damages, The Bernie Mac Show, NYPD Blue, JAG, ER, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing, The Practice, L.A. Law, Columbo and Law & Order.

Gilborn played Mr. Phillips in The Brady Bunch Movie. Other films included Nurse Betty, Doctor Doolittle and The Late Shift.

Born in 1936 in New Rochelle, New York, Gilborn graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A., earning a Ph.D. in dramatic literature and humanities from Stanford. He taught at MIT, UC Berkeley and Columbia during the 1960s. However, he left academia in 1970 to become an actor.

Active in Los Angeles' Interact Theatre Company in Los Angeles, he played many British and American characters. These included Prospero in The Tempest and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at The Folger Theater in Washington, D.C.

He also appeared on stage in Wendy Wasserstein's Isn't It Romantic at Playwrights Horizons in New York City, Awake and Sing at the McCarter Theater at Princeton, and at the Harvard's Loeb Theater. Among his other stage work was The Time of Your Life, Another Part of the Forest, Talley's Folley and The Cocktail Hour.

Steven Gilborn is survived by his wife of 42 years, American landscape photographer Karen Halverson, as well as by two daughters and four grandchildren.

A memorial will be held February 7 at the Spencertown Academy in Spencertown, New York.

NASA's "Quantum Quest" Picks Up "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" Talent

Variety is reporting that the voice cast for the CGI animated movie Quantum Quest will include two Captain Kirks and two Darth Vaders: William Shatner, Chris Pine, James Earl Jones, and Hayden Christensen. Other cast members include Samuel L. Jackson, Amanda Peet, Jason Alexander, Sandra Oh, Mark Hamill, Abigail Breslin, Spencer Breslin, and first man on the moon Neil Armstrong in his feature film debut.

The movie is a collaboration between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Taiwanese cartoon studio Digimax, and will mix CGI animation with actual space imagery from several on-going space exploration missions to tell the story of "Dave (Pine), a photon who lives in the sun and who is drawn into a galactic battle between the Core (Shatner) and the Void (Hamill)." The movie will debut in late 2009 in Imax and then conventional movie theaters.

New Images And Clips From Upcoming “Batman: The Brave And The Bold” Episode

The World’s Finest
has new clips and images from an upcoming Batman: The Brave and The Bold /span> episode.

Cartoon Network has passed along the episode synopsis and over a dozen new images for the upcoming
Batman: The Brave and The Bold
episode "Enter The Outsiders!." To get a closer look at the images, click on the thumbnails below.

Cartoon Network has also provided two clips from the episode, both of which are available to view here at our Batman: The Brave and The Bold</span> subsite. The all-new Batman: The Brave and The Bold episode “Enter the Outsiders!”, scheduled to air at 8pm (ET) this Friday, January 9th, 2009, is described as follows.

In this week’s episode Batman and his mentor Wildcat face off against a group of teens--the Outsiders--whose violent pranks turn to criminal activity under the control of the evil Slug. Batman and B'Wana Beast team up to take down Black Manta in teaser.

"Enter The Outsiders!" is written by Todd Casey and directed by Michael Chang. Further information on the episode, including a detailed cast list, is available at our our Batman: The Brave and The Bold subsite. For information on other episodes of Batman: The Brave and The Bold scheduled for January 2009, click here.

Disney Rejection Letter Revisited

Two and a half years ago, TAG blog posted a form letter that Walt Disney Productions sent out in the 1930s to women job applicants.

... Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school ...

The same letter is pictured above, with one difference. It's a year earlier than the first one, and instead of the corporate logo it's got a fancy color letterhead touting the studio's blockbuster Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

So try this mind exercise: You're a young, female artist in June 1938, opening a letter from Walt Disney Productions that you think will be some kind of encouraging response to your letter to the King of Animation, inquiring after a job.

But what you read instead is a form-letter kiss off, decorated with artwork from the Number One Film in the country, showing a
woman protaganist
and a woman villain.

And you're being told that
women need not apply.

Happily, we're a long way from the days when those kinds of letters went out. Less happily, much of animation is still too much of an old boys' network. You'll have to look long and hard to find a lot of women in high creative positions at many of the large animation studios.

(It was only a couple of years back I heard story artist and feature director
Brenda Chapman jokingly refer to herself as "the token woman" at Pixar.)

Animation Guild Blog)

New Watchmen featurette is live: The Minutemen

Warner Brothers has posted a new behind-the-scenes video featurette about the making of Zack Snyder's
Watchmen, focusing on the re-creation of the 1940s original costumed adventurers the Minutemen.

The video also features interviews with Snyder and Da
ve Gibbons, who illustrated the original Alan Moore graphic novel on which the film is based. Watchmen is slated to open March 6.

Meanwhile, Warner Brothers is asking for a federal judge to move up a hearing, originally scheduled for Jan. 20, that could decide the fate of
Watchmen's release, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That's the hearing in which Fox and Warner have agreed to let Judge Gary A. Feess decide whether to issue an injunction against the film's release.

Warner wants the hearing to be moved up to as early as Monday because
"time is critical," the studio argues in papers filed this week. Watchmen is scheduled for a March 6 release, and Warner must soon commit to tens of millions of dollars in marketing for a film it isn't sure it can release.

The injunction fight stems from Feess' Christmas Eve preliminary ruling that Fox has a right to distribute the movie. Feess found that producer Lawrence Gordon failed to acquire Fox's entire interest in
Watchmen, thereby leaving Fox with the rights.

Own the Cloverfield monster that destroyed New York

The best Godzilla movie I've ever seen was
Cloverfield, putting Godzilla and its pretenders to shame. To me it was a near-perfect huge-monster-wreaks-havoc-on-the-city flick that actually felt like you were there and had something to be really, really scared about. And what it was that was so scary was so cleverly hidden from the audience that no two people would have drawn the marauding creature the same way.

But now the mystery is over.

Hasbro is releasing a large-format
Cloverfield creature that's bound to take you by surprise, not only in its detail and articulation, but in its bizarreness of shape. This thing has joints where no living thing should, and a wire-articulated tail that surely could take out the Brooklyn Bridge without a thought.

With elbows where shoulders should be, and joints where you wouldn't expect—just about
every knuckle bends as it should—this thing is quite large, but as it is hard to pose in any way that makes sense, I'd guess it's somewhere between 18 inches and 2 feet long or high, depending on how you pose it.

Molded and painted in nice detail, this critter comes with two heads, which pop off the neck joint easily, but not too easily, thankfully. One head shows the creature in a more passive mood, but the second one is savage! It has this large, gaping mouth, with multiple rows of teeth, and bulging brain sacs that look like they're about to burst.

And what's even freakier, open a hatch in its default head and you get 10 parasites, tiny rice-grain-sized critters that you can drop off it onto the ground to terrorize your imaginary citizens.

To top it off, this thing is packed in a huge box that is very nicely made, putting this item in the top echelon of collectibles, competing with Sideshow Toy for style points, a first for Hasbro. And as a final, cool touch, you also get a scale head of Lady Liberty.

Hard to top!

The Amazing Spider-Man joins the Obamamania in an upcoming issue

First Oprah, then Scarlett, now Peter.

That's Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, the latest celebrity—real or otherwise—to try to bask in the reflected glory of our newly elected president, Barack Obama.

Marvel Comics announced today that it will celebrate the upcoming inauguration of Obama with an
all-new story teaming up president-elect Obama with the wallcrawler in "Spidey Meets the President" in The Amazing Spider-Man.

This all-new story—written by Zeb Wells, with art by Todd Nauck and Frank D'Armata—takes place in Washington on Inauguration Day and finds one of Spider-Man's oldest foes attempting to thwart the swearing-in ceremony of the 44th president of the United States.

The story is featured as a bonus in Marvel's
Amazing Spider-Man number 583, available in comic-book shops nationwide on Jan. 14. A special variant cover by artist Phil Jimenez, featuring the president-elect and Spider-Man, will be available for this issue.

"When we heard that president-elect Obama is a collector of Spider-Man comics, we knew that these two historic figures had to meet in our comics' Marvel Universe," Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada said in a statement. "Historic moments such as this one can be reflected in our comics because the Marvel Universe is set in the real world. A Spider-Man fan moving into the Oval Office is an event that must be commemorated in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man."

Watchmen producer Lloyd Levin speaks: Fox should stand down

Lloyd Levin, one of the producers of the upcoming Watchmen movie, has chimed in with his impassioned two cents on the current dispute over ownership rights to the project raging between Fox and Warner Brothers. Levin lets his thoughts be known in an open letter on the Web site.

Without addressing the actual legal issues—which will be adjudicated in federal court—Levin has his own solution to the impasse: Fox should just shut the frak up.

Of course, Levin has a huge stake in Fox's going away quietly: Fox seeks to block release of the film pending the outcome of the case, now set to go to court Jan. 20.
Watchmen is slated for release on March 6.

Here's a part of Levin's letter:

"From my point of view, the flashpoint of this dispute came in late spring of 2005. Both Fox and Warner Brothers were offered the chance to make
Watchmen. They were submitted the same package, at the same time. It included a cover letter describing the project and its history, budget information, a screenplay, the graphic novel, and it made mention that a top director was involved.

"And it's at this point, where the response from both parties could not have been more radically different.

"The response we got from Fox was a flat 'pass.' That's it. An internal Fox e-mail documents that executives there felt the script was one of the most unintelligible pieces of s--t they had read in years. Conversely, Warner Brothers called us after having read the script and said they were interested in the movie—yes, they were unsure of the screenplay, and had many questions, but wanted to set a meeting to discuss the project, which they promptly did. Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No. Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No. ...

"It seems beyond cynical for the studio to claim ownership at this point. ...

"For the sake of the artists involved, for the hundreds of people, executives and filmmakers, actors and crew, who invested their time, their money, and dedicated a good portion of their lives in order to bring this extraordinary project to life, the question of what is right is clear and unambiguous—Fox should stand down with its claim."

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