Thursday, January 15, 2009

News - 01/15/09...

Sedelmaier Behind NY Animation Exhibit

J. J. Sedelmaier Prods. and the Westchester Arts Council, along with animation shop Blue Sky Studios, have teamed up to present “It All Started Here,” a historical and creative retrospective of New York’s animation industry. Curated by J. J. Sedelmaier and animation historian, teacher and author Howard Beckerman, the program runs Jan. 20 through Feb. 28, with an opening night reception open to the public at the Westchester Arts Council on January 17.

Looking back at New York’s involvement in all facets of the animation industry for more than a century, the exhibit consists of artifacts, screenings, workshops and panel discussions. Sedelmaier, founder of White Plains-based toon shop J. J. Sedelmaier Prods., says the massive undertaking is the first to his knowledge that focuses solely on the heritage of New York animation.

“This is where the animation industry was founded,” says Sedelmaier. “Most people are under the impression it started in L.A., but New York is where animation came from—from the boroughs, from the city, even out in Westchester. This exhibit is going to encompass the history of animation, the context in which it evolved and flourished, and how it continues to exist to this day.”

Among the artifacts included in the show is an original workstation used by Oscar-winning director Chris Wedge on the 1982 Walt Disney feature Tron. The groundbreaking feature was the first to feature extensive use of computer animation, much of which was produced by MAGI/Synthavision, based in Elmsford, NY, in Westchester County. Wedge and other MAGI veterans later went on to open Blue Sky Studios, which animated the big-screen hits Ice Age, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Robots and Horton Hears a Who!

Animation from Blue Sky Studios and J. J. Sedelmaier Prods. will also be on exhibit, along with classics from the legendary Terrytoons studio (Mighty Mouse), Fleischer Studios (Popeye) and other influential companies. Sedelmaier’s studio produced the debut season of Beavis & Butt-head for MTV, and created cartoons for Saturday Night Live, Cartoon Network, The Colbert Report and countless TV commercials.

“It All Started Here” opens with a reception on Jan 17 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Westchester Arts Council in White Plains. For more information, go to or call 914-428-4220.

There will also be screenings and a panel discussion on animation in advertising at The Picture House in Pelham, New York on Jan. 25, featuring Sedelmaier, Beckerman and Tim Speidel, a senior producer at Arnold Worldwide in New York, who has collaborated on several commercial projects with Sedelmaier and has an extensive background in animated advertising.

Events at the Jacob Burns Film Center include a series of animation screenings that will take place in January and February. These include a screening of early animation accompanied by live piano on Jan. 15, a screening of work from J. J. Sedelmaier Prods. on Jan 27, a program of animation for kids on Feb. 5, and a look of work from Blue Sky on Feb. 23. In addition, Sedelmaier and Beckerman will be giving a presentation on the history of New York animation at the New York Comic Con convention, taking place Feb. 6-8 at the Jacob Javits Center.

Animation’s 2nd-Class Status

Film reporter Patrick Goldstein, in yesterday’s LA Times, writes about movies that are long shots for the Oscar’s Best Picture nomination. One of them is Pixar’s WALL•E:

A wonderful, critically beloved movie, “WALL•E” in any normal world would be a shoo-in nominee for best picture. Its problem? It’s an animated film, the one genre (along with comedy) that gets no respect from the academy — no animated film has won an Oscar for best picture, even though many classics, notably “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 2,” “Spirited Away” and “Ratatouille,” were just as good as the live-action winners in their year of eligibility. Actors, who make up the biggest branch of the academy, almost never vote for animated films, so it’s virtually impossible to put together enough support from other branches of the academy to register a win.

Hence, the best animated film ghetto, which, just like at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, allows an animated delight like
“WALL•E” to get some recognition without having a legitimate shot at best picture stardom. Some commentators have suggested that if Disney had spent just another $20 million to push “WALL•E,” it could’ve gotten over the top, but Disney is probably right not to throw good money after bad — too many academy members have a built-in bias against animated films, viewing them as just not “important” enough to vote for.

As much as I’d like to see an animated film recognized alongside live action in the Best Picture category, I’m afraid Goldstein speaks the truth. This is the reality: no matter how much money animation makes, or how many hits Pixar and Dreamworks churn out, animation is still a 2nd class citizen in Hollywood.

I don’t like it that way. It’s not how I think — but it’s the way it is. And nothing that happens seems to change that perception. Four of the top 10 movies of 2008 (in U.S. box office gross) were animated features - four - and the other six were blockbusters that had more than their fair share of CGI effects (Iron Man, Dark Knight, etc).

And consider this scenario, which is entirely within the realm of possibility: Waltz with Bashir could be nominated (and win) in three categories (Animated Feature, Foreign Film and Documentary), WALL•E could be nominated (and win) as Best Picture, and leave, perhaps, Kung Fu Panda (my pick) winner as Best Animated Feature. Even if this could happen (and it’s not impossible) animation would still be considered by non-animation folk, as Goldstein says, “not important enough”.

It’s been a hell-of-a-good year for animation but, according to some, we still rank 2nd place.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Face2Face Contest Winners Announced

Animation Magazine is happy to announce the winners of Animation Magazine’s Face-2-Face Contest, a 3D modeling competition sponsored by Dell and Image Metrics. Nearly $10,000 in prizes is being awarded to talented 3D artists for creating outstanding facial models in two main categories: Film and Games. The contest has also provided all entrants with great exposure to the entertainment industry, including their esteemed panel of judges. They’re also opening voting to their readers. Go to to pick your favorites from their field of finalists.

First Place
Artist: Tony Reynolds
Model: “Casey McManus”
File: FilmHead02_Tony

Second Place
Artist: Taehee Lee
Model: “Rosa
File: FilmHead14_Taehee

Third Place
Artist: Max Edwin Wahyudi
Model: Lynda
File: FilmHead19_Max

First Place

Artist: Sanket B. Khedekar
Model: “Rajasthani Old Woman (Dadi)”
File: FilmHead19_Max

Second Place
Artist: James Jean Pierre
Model: “Barack Obama”
File: FilmorGameHead06_James

Third Place
Artist: Christian Van Meurs
Model: “Fishie”
File: GameHead02_Christian

First place winners in each category receive Dell's m6400 workstation, featuring a 17” monitor, 16GB of memory, a Core 2 Duo Quad Core Extreme processor, up to 1TB of data and up to 1GB of NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700M Graphics. Second place finishers get a Wacom Cintiq 20WSX tablet, and third place qualifiers can subsidize their creative efforts with $500 cash.

Judges included WETA co-founder Richard Taylor (King Kong, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia), Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm Animation veteran Rob Coleman (animation director on Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith), freelance character designer Cesar Dacol Jr. (Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, 300, Barnyard, Fantastic Four) and Paul Debevec, a research associate professor at the University of Southern California and the associate director of graphics research at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies.

Bashir Makes Oscar Cut

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that nine films will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 81st Academy Awards. Among them is Ari Folman’s animated documentary Waltz with Bashir, which won the Golden Globe in the same category on Sunday.

From 65 original entries, the Academy has narrowed the field of competitors to:

Revanche, directed by Gotz Spielmann - Austria,
The Necessities of Life, directed by Benoit Pilon - Canada
The Class, directed by Laurent Cantet - France
The Baader Meinhof Complex, directed by Uli Edel - Germany;
Waltz with Bashir, directed by Ari Folman - Israel
Departures, directed by Yojiro Takita – Japan
Tear This Heart Out, directed by Roberto Sneider - Mexico
Everlasting Moments, directed by Jan Troell - Sweden
3 Monkeys, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan - Turkey

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2008 are being determined in two phases. The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based members, screened the 65 eligible films between mid-October and Jan. 10. That group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist. This list will be winnowed down to the five actual nominees by specially selected committees in New York and Los Angeles.

Nominations for the 81st Academy Awards will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 22 at 5:30 a.m. (PT) in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 22 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and will televised live by the ABC Television Network.

WGA Nominates Vid Game Writers

The Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of America, East have announced nominations for the WGA’s Videogame Writing Award. Recognizing writers as a primary creative force in the gaming industry, the honor will be presented at the 2009 Writers Guild Awards on Saturday, Feb. 7. Simultaneous ceremonies will be held in Los Angeles and New York.

The nominees are:

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Electronic Arts
Writer Haris Orkin, story producer Mical Pedriana,

Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! - Mousechief
Writer Keith Nemitz, additional writing Adrianne Ambrose,

Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks
Lead writer Emil Pagliarulo, quest writing by Erik J. Caponi, Brian Chapin, Jon Paul Duvall, Kurt Kuhlmann, Alan Nanes, Bruce Nesmith and Fred Zeleny, additional quest writing by Nate Ellis, William Killeen, Mark Nelson and Justin McSweeney

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - LucasArts
Writers Haden Blackman, Shawn Pitman, John Stafford and Cameron Suey

Tomb Raider: Underworld - Eidos Interactive
Story by Eric Lindstrom and Toby Gard, screenplay by Eric Lindstrom

The Videogame Writing Award was established by the Guilds’ Videogame Writers Caucus to encourage storytelling excellence in video games, to improve the status of writers, and to begin to encourage uniform standards within the gaming industry. The Guilds are working to bring more interactive entertainment projects under their jurisdiction to ensure writers receive the benefits of a WGA contract.

Winners of the 2009 Writers Guild Awards in all categories will be announced at ceremonies held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles and the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City on Feb. 7. For more information, go to or

Rabbi’s Cat Comic Becoming Toon Feature

Joann Sfar will adapt his Eisner Award-winning graphic novel The Rabbi’s Cat as a 2D animated feature. According to Daily Variety, Sfar will co-direct the film with Antoine Delesvaux. This is the first project for Autochenille, a Paris-based company they founded with comic-book artist Clement Oubrerie. TF1 Intl. will co-produce with public broadcaster France 3, and has also acquired international and home video rights. The pic has pre-sold in France to France 3, Canal Plus and Cinecinema.

Set in Algeria in the 1930s, the graphic novel revolves around a cat that eats the family parrot and develops the ability to speak. The cat then decides he wants to become Jewish to impress the rabbi’s beautiful daughter. The daughter falls in love with a young rabbi from Paris, and the cat and rabbi must journey with the newlyweds to France to meet the in-laws. Slated to open in France in 2010, the $17.5 million animated movie will feature the voices of Hafsia Herzi (The Secret of the Grain) and Francois Morel (Go West: A Lucky Luke Adventure).

Autochenill is dedicated to making author-driven films that appeal to children and adults alike. Also in development is Aya de Yopougon, an adaptation of Marguerite Abouet’s book of the same name. Oubrerie, who illustrated the book, will direct the film. Sfar is also attached to direct Gainsbourg, vie heroique, a live-action biopic on French singer Serge Gainsbourg.

Imira Makes Pre-NATPE sales

Spanish production and distribution company Imira Ent. is heading to NATPE with a raft of deals in place with U.S. and Latin American broadcasters for the hit animated shows Lola & Virginia, Vitaminix, 64 Zoo Lane, Louie and Bali. Among the company’s new NATPE offerings is the live-action preschool series The Elephant Princess from Jonathan M Schiff and ZDF Enterprises.

Now seen in more than 100 territories worldwide, Lola & Virginia (52x12) has been picked up by Canal Once in Mexico, and renewed by Brazil’s SBT. The Brazilian broadcaster has also picked up licensing and merchandising rights, with New Star taking home entertainment rights for the territory, and Quality Films picking up the home entertainment rights for Chile.

Vitaminix (104x2), a healthy-eating kids show also produced by Imira, has sold to U.S. Spanish-language channels Somos TV and Mega TV. In addition, Film Ideas has picked up non-theatrical rights in the U.S. and Canada.

Two kids’ shows from Milimages are also selling well for Imira. Disney Latin America has acquired 64 Zoo Lane (78x11), Discovery Kids Latin America has picked up new episodes of Louie (13x26) and Discovery Hispanic U.S. has acquired all 39 half-hour episodes of Louie. Further deals include a sale of Planet Nemo’s preschool series Bali (52x13’) to U.S. Spanish-language channel ¡Sorpresa!

Ricardo Montalban 1920 - 2009

Actor Ricardo Montalban passed away yesterday morning at the age of 88. The Mexican-born actor came to prominence in the 1970's as Mr. Roarke in Fantasy Island, and cemented a place of honor in nerd pop culture history when he reprised his role as Khan Noonien Singh in the second Star Trek movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He also used his distinctive accented baritone to provide voice-overs in several cartoons, including Armondo Guitierrez in Freakzoid, El Encantador in an episode of Dora the Explorer, and SeƱor Senior Sr. in Kim Possible.

Montalban's death was announced at a city council meeting by president Eric Garcetti, who represents the district where the actor lived. Garcetti did not give a cause of death.

"What you saw on the screen and on television and on talk shows, this very courtly, modest, dignified individual, that's exactly who he was," said Montalban's longtime friend and publicist David Brokaw.

Montalban had been a star in Mexican movies when MGM brought him to Hollywood in 1946. He was cast in the leading role opposite Esther Williams in "Fiesta," and starred again with the swimming beauty in "On an Island with You" and "Neptune's Daughter."

But Montalban was best known as the faintly mysterious, white-suited Mr. Roarke, who presided over a tropical island resort where visitors were able to fulfill their lifelong dreams — usually at the unexpected expense of a difficult life lesson. Following a floatplane landing and lei ceremony, he greeted each guest with the line: "I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Fantasy Island."

The show ran from 1978 to 1984.

More recently, he appeared as villains in two hits of the 1980s: "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" and the farcical "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad."

Between movie and TV roles, Montalban was active in the theater. He starred on Broadway in the 1957 musical "Jamaica" opposite Lena Horne, picking up a Tony nomination for best actor in a musical.

He toured in Shaw's "Don Juan in Hell," playing Don Juan, a performance critic John Simon later recalled as "irresistible." In 1965 he appeared on tour in the Yul Brynner role in "The King and I."

"The Ricardo Montalban Theatre in my Council District — where the next generations of performers participate in plays, musicals, and concerts — stands as a fitting tribute to this consummate performer," Garcetti said later in a written statement.

"Fantasy Island" received high ratings for most of its run on ABC, and still appears in reruns. Mr. Roarke and his sidekick, Tattoo, played by the 3-foot, 11-inch Herve Villechaize, reached the state of TV icons. Villechaize died in 1993.

In a 1978 interview, Montalban analyzed the series's success:

"What is appealing is the idea of attaining the unattainable and learning from it. Once you obtain a fantasy, it becomes a reality, and that reality is not as exciting as your fantasy. Through the fantasies you learn to appreciate your own realities."

As for Mr. Roarke: "Was he a magician? A hypnotist? Did he use hallucinogenic drugs? I finally came across a character that works for me. He has the essence of mystery, but I need a point of view so that my performance is consistent. I now play him 95 percent believable and 5 percent mystery. He doesn't have to behave mysteriously; only what he does is mysterious."

In 1970, Montalban organized fellow Latino actors into an organization called Nosotros ("We"), and he became the first president. Their aim: to improve the image of Spanish-speaking Americans on the screen; to assure that Latin-American actors were not discriminated against; to stimulate Latino actors to study their profession.

Montalban commented in a 1970 interview:

"The Spanish-speaking American boy sees Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid wipe out a regiment of Bolivian soldiers. He sees `The Wild Bunch' annihilate the Mexican army. It's only natural for him to say, `Gee, I wish I were an Anglo.'"

Montalban was no stranger to prejudice. He was born Nov. 25, 1920, in Mexico City, the son of parents who had emigrated from Spain. The boy was brought up to speak the Castilian Spanish of his forebears. To Mexican ears that sounded strange and effeminate, and young Ricardo was jeered by his schoolmates.

His mother also dressed him with old-country formality, and he wore lace collars and short pants "long after my legs had grown long and hairy," he wrote in his 1980 autobiography, "Reflections: A Life in Two Worlds."

"It is not easy to grow up in a country that has different customs from your own family's."

While driving through Texas with his brother, Montalban recalled seeing a sign on a diner: "No Dogs or Mexicans Allowed." In Los Angeles, where he attended Fairfax High School, he and a friend were refused entrance to a dance hall because they were Mexicans.

Rather than seek a career in Hollywood, Montalban played summer stock in New York. He returned to Mexico City and played leading roles in movies from 1941 to 1945. That led to an MGM contract.

Besides the Williams spectacles, the handsome actor appeared in "Sombrero" (opposite Pier Angeli), "Two Weeks With Love" (Jane Powell) and "Latin Lovers" (Lana Turner).

He also appeared in dramatic roles in such films as "Border Incident," "Battleground," "Mystery Street" and "Right Cross."

"Movies were never kind to me; I had to fight for every inch of film," he reflected in 1970. "Usually my best scenes would end up on the cutting-room floor."

Montalban had better luck after leaving MGM in 1953, though he was usually cast in ethnic roles. He appeared as a Japanese kabuki actor in "Sayonara" and an Indian in "Cheyenne Autumn." His other films included: "Madame X," "The Singing Nun," "Sweet Charity," "Escape from the Planet of the Apes" and "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes."

Montalban was sometimes said to be the source of Billy Crystal's "you look MAHvelous" character on "Saturday Night Live," though the inspiration was really Argentinian-born actor Fernando Lamas.

In 1944, Montalban married Georgiana Young, actress and model and younger sister of actress Loretta Young. Both Roman Catholics, they remained one of Hollywood's most devoted couples. She died in 2007. They had four children: Laura, Mark, Anita and Victor.

Montalban suffered a spinal injury in a horse fall while making a 1951 Clark Gable Western, "Across the Wide Missouri," and thereafter walked with a limp he managed to mask during his performances.

In 1993, Montalban lost the feeling in his leg, and exhaustive tests showed that he had suffered a small hemorrhage in his neck, similar to the injury decades earlier. He underwent 9 1/2 hours of spinal surgery at UCLA Medical Center.

Despite the constant pain, the actor was able to take a role in an Aaron Spelling TV series, "Heaven Help Us." Twice a month in 1994, he flew to San Antonio for two or three days of filming as an angel who watched over a young couple.

In an interview at the time, Montalban remarked: "I've never given up hope. But I have to be realistic. I gave my tennis rackets to my son, figuring I'll never play again. But my doctor said, `Don't say that. Strange things happen. You never know.'"

Patrick McGoohan, TV's "Prisoner," dead at 80

American-born actor Patrick McGoohan, who starred as a British spy in 1960s TV series The Prisoner and Secret Agent, died Tuesday in Santa Monica, California after a short illness. He was 80.

McGoohan died peacefully in St. John's Health Center, said his son-in-law, Cleve Landsberg. The family did not provide further details.

McGoohan's last screen role before his retirement was as the voice of Billy Bones in the 2000 Disney feature film Treasure Planet. Two years earlier, in the 2000 The Simpsons episode The Computer Wore Menace Shoes, he voiced Number Six, reprising his famed role in The Prisoner.

He also won two Emmys for Columbo. In 1975, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Series for playing Col. Lyle C. Rumford in Columbo: By Dawn's Early Light. And in 1990, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for playing Oscar Finch in Columbo: Agenda for Murder.

Often played TV or movie villains, he was most famous as John Drake, a special security agent working as a spy for the British government, in Secret Agent. The year was 1965, and James Bond mania was a mainstay of pop culture.

The hour-long series aired on CBS until 1966. It was an expanded version of a half-hour 1961 series called Danger Man, in which McGoohan played the same character. However, Danger Man didn't last long.

The Prisoner
, McGoohan's next British series, became a cult classic, although it ran for only 17 episodes. Once described in The Times as an "espionage tale as crafted by Kafka," it aired on CBS in 1968 and 1969.

As The Prisoner, McGoohan was a British agent who resigned his post, then was abducted and held captive by persons unknown in a mysterious village, where he was identified only as No. 6.

McGoohan created and executive-produced the series, writing and directing several episodes as well.

In films, he played such well-known villains as England's sadistic King Edward I in Mel Gibson's Braveheart (1995).

Other movie acting credits included John Sturges' Ice Station Zebra, the Gene Wilder-Richard Pryor comedy Silver Streak, Escape from Alcatraz (ironically, as the Warden), David Cronenberg's Scanners and A Time to Kill.

On television, he appeared in the series Rafferty as a former Army doctor practicing in Los Angeles. He also was on Murder, She Wrote.

Born in Astoria, New York on March 19, 1928, McGoohan moved to Ireland with his parents when he was very young. He developed a neutral accent that proved useful in British and American productions alike.

Early in his career, the 6'2" McGoohan was often cast in angry-young-man roles. In 1960, he received the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor.

Patrick McGoohan is survived by Joan Drummond, his wife since 1951, as well as three children (including actresses Catherine and Anne); five grandchildren, Sarah, Erin, Simon, Nina and Paddy; and a great-grandchild, Jack Patrick Lockhart, born last June 11.

Ruth Clokey, 85, produced and co-created "Gumby"

Ruth Parkander Clokey, the former wife and creative partner of The Gumby Show and Davey and Goliath stop-motion animator Art Clokey, died Wednesday after a years-long struggle battle with Alzheimer's Disease. She was 85.

A resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, she had moved to Southern California to be near her son, who acted as her caregiver.

Born in 1923, she was also known as Ruth Goodell Clokey and Ruth Clokey. She was given story editor credit as "Ruth Goodell" on episodes of The Gumby Show.

The producer and co-creator of "Gumby," she ran Clokey Studios, the couple's production studio, for over a decade. She was producer of the religious children's TV series Davey and Goliath.

Davey and Goliath was co-produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

"My father was a Lutheran minister," she said several years ago. "Father Joseph Parkander.

"I had a lot of training in the Lutheran Church. My whole background was formed by him. It would have been difficult to continue this series if I hadn't had that kind of background."

After graduating from at Augustana College, a private liberal arts institution in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1944, she taught high school in Rhode Island for a year while her father was pastor at Gloria Dei in Providence.

In 1946, the Augustana Lutheran Church Board of Education asked her to become a field director in its New England-New York Conference. She traveled to area churches, training people in the use of Christian education materials.

She enrolled as a student at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut for training in religious education. There, she met Art Clokey, who was studying to become an Episcopal priest. The two married at Gloria Dei in 1948 and moved to Hollywood to make religious films. They taught school for a few years while Art Clokey studied kinesthetic film principles at USC under legendary Yugoslav filmmaker Slavko Vorkapich.

Following her divorce from Art Clokey in 1966, she continued to produce Davey and Goliath, running the studio without her ex-husband from 1967 though the mid-1970s. By 1969, the series' success led the church to ask production company Premavision to create another run of 15-minute episodes. Her former husband Art was no longer part of the series, but Ruth continued to supervise production.

She was executive director of the 1975 Clokey Productions special To the Rescue.

Later, she returned to Augusana College to become a literature professor.

"I remember that was a lot of work," she said of the original Davey and Goliath.

"I think, of all the things that I have done in my life, I am most proud of Davey and Goliath. "We were really doing something to help the children of our country, and of the world.

"I really am proud of that. This show had a message. It wasn't just junk."

With her former husband, Ruth Clokey Parklander had two children: Ann Clokey, who died in 1974, and Joe Clokey, an animator and video producer. Joe Clokey produced a Davey and Goliath comeback special, Davey And Goliath's Snowboard Christmas (2004).

New Behind-the-Scenes Videos from "Wolverine and the X-Men" has posted two behind-the-scenes videos for Wolverine and the X-Men, the new animated series that debuts on Nicktoons Network on January 23, 2009. The series, which has already been airing in Canada and the UK, focuses on Marvel's iconic superhero team of mutants in the aftermath of a devastating attack on Prof. Charles Xavier's school for gifted children.

AWN Looks at Richard Williams' Masterclass

Animation World Network has taken a look at the career and legacy of master animation director Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Thief and the Cobbler), paying special attention to his animation masterclass, which teaches the fundamentals of animation and animation directing; and on the companion 16-disc DVD boxed set.

"Madagascar 3" Aims for Summer 2012

While at the Television Critics press tour, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg declared that Madagascar 3 will be out in the summer of 2012, providing the first confirmation that the movie is in production. He was at the event to promote the upcoming Penguins of Madagascar series coming to the Nicktoons network.

Tom McGillis Talks "Total Drama Action" has spoken with Tom McGillis, producer of Total Drama Island, on the Canadian debut of the second season of the series, titled Total Drama Action. McGillis discusses the changes that will occur in the second season, how the cast was streamlined from season 1 to season 2, and the research with 8- to 12-year olds that was conducted before the show aired. McGillis also goes into depth about exporting the show from Canada to the United States, noting how American viewers are upset that Canada is getting the new season first, how he dealt with the fact that web sites spoiled the ending of the show well before Cartoon Network brought it on the air, and the way the language of the show was censored during its run on Cartoon Network.

Mania Exclusive: HULK VS THOR clip

Big green gives the thunder god a thrashing

The Incredible Hulk is back and doing what Hulk does best. And what does Hulk do best?


On January 27th, Hulk will smash indeed as Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Marvel Animation recalls two of the most titanic tussles in comics history in the DVD double feature 'Hulk Vs'!

Bruce Banner’s alter-ego takes on fan favorites Wolverine and Thor in two epic, all new, action-packed animated films -- 'Hulk Vs. Wolverine' and 'Hulk Vs. Thor.

And now Mania can exclusively preview this clip from the Jade Jaws savage smackdown of the God of Thunder, for you dear Maniacs.

SPOILER: This clip does contain a plot revelation. We haven't seen the whole film yet, so we're not sure if it blows the story for you or not. Press play with caution:

Oh yeah! We're going to be sitting ringside for the rest of that brawl. 'Hulk Vs' comes on January 27th, single-disc DVD, two-disc special edition DVD and Blu-Ray.

Here you can check out a clip from his battle with Wolverine, too.

The January Studio Roundabout

Tuesday I pinged around to different Glendale Studios like a steel ball in an old arcade game.

At Disney TVA Sonora, Mickey's Clubhouse is winding down.

We've got a couple more months work on the show. We're doing a bunch of new two-minute shorts, and a pair of long DVDs, and then boom. We're over. The studio has all the episodes it wants, and in April most everybody will be looking for other work.

But the consensus seems to be the schedule for Clubhouse has been sane. One board artist said: "I haven't been stressed and crowded on this show. Lots different than other projects I've worked on ..."

And artists wonder aloud what projects are going to get greenlighted next. "What kinds of shows will Disney XD be doing? Nobody knows ..."

At DreamWorks Animation, crews are well along with the latest features (MvA, S4, HttyD) and told me about Jeffrey K's recent meeting with the staff:

Jeffrey had everybody in the commissary, telling them us that we've had a really good 2008 but that 2009 could be tough.

We only have one movie coming out this year [
Monsters vs. Aliens], not our usual two. And in oh-ten there's three. Plus nobody knows what the economy's going to be doing, but probably it's nothing good. Jeffrey says the money is flying out of the studio and we've got to hold costs down. He talked for a long time, and then there was a Q & A. I like it that he lets us know what's going on ...

As I understand from staff, salary increases are probably going to be minimal over the next couple of years, but the company is working to avoid major layoffs.

Over on Sonora, Disney Toons still labors on the Tink franchise. Tink One is available at your favorite DVD retailer, Tink Too is in full-bore production ... and Tink Three?

John Lasseter saw our last story pass and decided to make changes, big changes. So things have been shaken up on the picture. We've got some new people working on it now, and we're waiting for the revised script before we start boarding again.

But the changes mean more work for everyone, and that's a good thing ...

Then, of course, there is Tinkerbell 4 still to come. CEO Robert Iger is a believer in franchises.

That, in a nutshell, was a large portion of my yesterday. Lots of walking involved, but it was informative.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

J.J. Abrams defends his Star Trek: You'll love it!

J.J. Abrams, who directed the upcoming Star Trek reboot movie, addressed the film's new take on starship battles, redshirt deaths and character backstory. Abrams attended the Television Critics Association January press tour party for Fox, the network for which he produces Fringe, on Tuesday.

Earlier in the evening, screenwriter Roberto Orci described the battles as still maritime-influenced, despite the new, lavish look. Abrams clarified.

"They're big ships, so I'd say that there is a little bit of that, but there's a little bit more flash and fun and action than you've seen before," Abrams said in a group interview. "There are some pretty spectacular visual effects. ILM outdid themselves. It's amazing."

In scenes previewed for the press earlier in the year, Abrams revealed the very first redshirt death scene. Trek fans know that any supporting character in a red uniform is doomed on a planetside mission.

"Well, the guy sort of asks for it a little bit in that scene," Abrams joked.

A major change in Abrams' prequel is the portrayal of young Kirk as a reckless, bar-fighting rebel. On that note, Abrams admitted he was recruiting new Trekkers.

"I would say that the fans of Star Trek will be very happy with the movie," Abrams said. "It honors what's come before, but I didn't really make the movie just for the people who are already inside, because I like Star Trek but I was never a massive fan. So I think the movie's going to not satisfy everyone, of course. It can't. But it'll satisfy most of both."

Finally, Abrams addressed a YouTube video in which William Shatner claims he was never approached for a cameo in Abrams' film. He says he would have said no, but he was never even asked. Abrams saw where Shatner misunderstood the director's comments.

"I think what Mr. Shatner was responding to was a misunderstanding," Abrams said. "I was quoted as saying we tried to get him in the movie. What I meant was we were trying internally to find a way to take a dead character and resurrect him without it seeming lame. We couldn't figure out a way to do it. I think that when I said we tried to get him into the movie, he read it as if we were trying to call him. I would not have wasted his time with a bad idea." Star Trek opens May 8.

Emily Blunt to Star in Iron Man 2?

Variety is reporting the rumor that Emily Blunt is in talks to play Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2. Romanoff is a Soviet super spy who doubles as Black Widow, a beauty in a skintight black costume that is enhanced by high-tech weaponry.

She would join the previously-announced villains Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell in the sequel. Again directed by Jon Favreau, the Marvel Studios film sees the return of Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow, while Don Cheadle is replacing Terrence Howard.

Blunt's credits include The Devil Wears Prada, The Jane Austen Book Club and Charlie Wilson's War. She also stars in The Wolfman, coming to theaters in November.

The Justin Theroux-scripted Iron Man 2 will begin production this spring for a release by Paramount on May 7, 2010.

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