Monday, January 26, 2009

News - 01/26/08...

Imagi closing down temporarily?

We were going to hold off on this till at least Monday, when we could get more information, but a commenter below has broken the news: it appears that Imagi, maker of Astro Boy and Gatchaman, may currently be out of cash and temporarily shutting down operations. We've heard from one of Imagi's Los Angeles animators that he was called at home on Saturday, Jan. 24, and told that the studio was out of cash, and that he should not report to work on Monday. Since this is all happening over the weekend, we've been unable to get any confirmation from official studio sources.

We've previously noted that the company informed the Guild in December that the company was having cashflow problems related to the credit crisis, and it's noteworthy that just a few days ago the studio reported it had found a new depositary bank for their American depositary receipt program, so clearly they're scrambling to get additional funds.

There's also this telling quote from a Jan. 14 article:

Their boss, Douglas Glen, Imagi's chief executive, had just come back from the American Film Market in Los Angeles, which was devastated by the gloom and doom spanning the globe. "If markets don't return to some semblance of normalcy, it is going to be difficult to keep operations going," an ashen-faced Glen told a visitor. Only two months before he had triumphantly secured $30 million in financing for his movie animation company. Then $20 million of it fell through.

We want to emphasize that right now we have only second-hand information from a single Imagi employee. We're hoping this is a temporary hiccup for a company that has a good-looking feature well on its way to completion, and a couple of more features well along in the development pipeline.

Imagi employees are encouraged to call the Animation Guild office this coming week at (818) 766-7151.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Oscar’s Animators Thrilled to Be Nominated

The nominees were announced early Thursday morning, but for the people who worked on the three best-animated feature entries the news was cause for celebration all day long.

“We’re obviously thrilled,” Melissa Cobb, producer and co-director of Kung Fu Panda, told Cobb said the film’s hard-working crew deserves the attention. “So many of the people who worked on the movie are getting recognition for the quality of the work they did,” she says.

“I’m through the moon, it’s awesome,” WALL•E screenwriter Andrew Stanton told Variety. “I was completely ecstatic about [the] original screenplay [nomination]. I worked incredibly hard at that.”

“It’s an amazing medium and I’m so proud to be a part of the [animation] industry,” Byron Howard, director of Bolt, told the trade. “It’s a small industry, so when anyone does good work, we all win.”

Breslin to Voice Rango, Wild Bunch

Abigail Breslin, star of Little Miss Sunshine, has signed on to voice parts in two animated features.

In Gore Verbinski’s Rango, Breslin stars opposite Johnny Depp, who plays a household pet that goes in search of his true self. The film is being produced at Paramount.

Breslin also will star in The Wild Bunch, an independent animated feature underway from Jerusalem-based Animation Lab. Breslin plays Daisy, one of a group of wildflowers attacked by genetically altered corn stalks. Directed by Doug Wood, the cast also includes Willem Dafoe, Elizabeth Hurley, Willie Nelson and Chris Klein.

August to Write Burton’s Frankenweenie, Preacher

Screenwriter John August has been tapped to script the stop-motion animated feature Frankenweenie for Tim Burton and Disney, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film will be based on a live-action short Burton made as a film student about a boy who brings his dog back to life after it’s hit by a car.

August previously worked with Burton on Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Corpse Bride.

But first, August will adapt for director Sam Mendes the cult comic-book series Preacher. Published in the 1990s by DC/Vertigo, the popular comic by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon tells the tale of a Texas preacher who gains the power to track down God and hold him responsible for his actions.

Cyber Takes TV’s Ozie Boo! to the Movies

The animated French preschool series Ozie Boo! is getting a big-screen upgrade, thanks to its creators, Cyber Group Animation.

Variety reports the feature will, like the TV series, feature five baby penguins and a green theme.

The film is set for release in France in 2010, with Cyber handing both domestic and international sales.

The short-format series has been sold into 150 territories, and also has a Christmas special and an entertainment series in development.

Blue Sky Studios completes Connecticut relocation

Animation producer Blue Sky Studios, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fox Filmed Entertainment, has entered into a lease to occupy about 105,000 square feet of studio space in Greenwich, Connecticut, bringing more than 300 jobs to the region.

The company continues to expand and is currently adding staff. The new studio will be located at The Greenwich American Center, facility of over 605,000 square feet facility set on 155 wooded acres in Greenwich.

The opportunity to re-establish the Blue Sky creative staff and crew of about 300 people on one contiguous floor, combined with what is one of the most competitive tax programs in the United States, made the selection of Connecticut the logical choice for Blue Sky Studios, the studio said.

"After conducting an extensive search throughout the tri-state region, Blue Sky settled on the Greenwich American Center. The available large and efficient studio space combined with the recently enacted production tax credit program introduced in January of 2007 made Connecticut the most attractive location for our new animation facility," said Fox Animation president Vanessa Morrison.

Under the new program, production companies are eligible for tax credits of up to 30% on production expenses or costs incurred within the state.

"We are very excited about the relocation of our studio and with it, the opportunity to conduct all of our operations on a single floor," said Brian Keane, Blue Sky's chief financial officer and chief operating officer. Over the course of eight years in its former location, Blue Sky has expanded from one floor to three floors scattered throughout the building.

"We're bringing more than 300 new jobs to the state as we continue to expand our studio in Connecticut," Keane added.

The Whitewashing of Avatar: The Last Airbender

A lot of people online are talking about the forthcoming live-action adaptation of Nickelodeon’s animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender and nobody has a single nice thing to say. The source of controversy: the four lead actors cast in the live-action version are all white.

Comic book artist Derek Kirk Kim wrote an impassioned blog entry about the casting choices and explains succinctly why this is such a poor decision on Paramount’s part:

“[Avatar is] wholly and inarguably built around Asian (and Inuit) culture. Everything from to the costume designs, to the written language, to the landscapes, to martial arts, to philosophy, to spirituality, to eating utensils!—it’s all an evocative, but thinly veiled, re-imagining of ancient Asia. (In one episode, a region is shown where everyone is garbed in Korean hanboks—traditional Korean clothing—the design of which wasn’t even altered at all.) It would take a willful disregard of the show’s intentions and origins to think this wouldn’t extend to the race of the characters as well. You certainly don’t see any blonde people running around in Avatar. (I’m not saying that would have necessarily been a bad thing, I’m just stating the facts of the show and the world in which it is set.)”

To rub salt in the wound, this is what actor Jackson Rathbone told an interviewer about how he needs to prepare to play a role in Avatar: “I definitely need a tan.” Unbelievable.

Recently Madeline Ashby penned an excellent thought-provoking piece for FPS Magazine about the growing trend of live-action anime adaptations and the systematic exclusion of Asians from these films (the upcoming live versions of Akira and Cowboy Bebop also handed lead roles to white actors). She also ponders why movie studios don’t actually support the studios making the original works instead of trying to cash in with watered-down adaptations:

The anime industry is barely getting by, at a point in time when its global appeal is most highly recognized. As Roland Kelts points out in Japanamerica, people who believe that anime is a lucrative business for the animators or even directors are sadly deluded…But big names like DiCaprio and Reeves could give the industry a much-needed boost by following the Tarantino and Wachowski method: fund your own anime, rather than commissioning adaptations. For the cost of a Hollywood film, couldn’t you pay the people at Gonzo or Production IG or Bones to animate your own script? What if, instead of meatsack re-hashings of classic anime titles, we got fresh product done by professionals who know the medium inside and out?

Back to Avatar, an online letter-writing campaign has been launched encouraging people to write in about the film’s casting. Concerned fans are being asked to address their letters to Paramount’s head of production, Mark Bakshi, who, in an ironic twist, is the son of Ralph Bakshi, a filmmaker who always dealt frankly and openly with racial issues in his work.

(Thanks to Anson Jew who brought this story to my attention on Cartoon Brew’s Facebook page)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

More Anger about Avatar

The image above is of Charlee, a fan of the Avatar series, who protested the live-action film’s racially questionable casting choices at an Avatar casting call in Philadelphia today. He writes about his experience in this blog comment.

Apparently part of Paramount’s marketing plan for Avatar is to alienate every Asian-American before the film is released. For example, listen to the film’s dimwitted casting director Deedee Rickets, who recently explained to a Pennsylvania newspaper how they wanted to cast ethnic extras: “We want you to dress in traditional cultural ethnic attire. If you’re Korean, wear a kimono. If you’re from Belgium, wear lederhosen.”

Apparently, nobody informed her that the kimono is not the national dress of Korea, but of Japan. The Angry Asian Man blog is rightfully angry. He writes:

“Right. Koreans, kimonos, funny Asian outfits… they’re all the same. It’s apparent that the people making this movie really don’t care about the kind of movie they’re making, as long as they get to use Asians (and their basket-weaving skills) as props.”

More links to disappointment:

A blog that explains how to protest Paramount and documents the growing chorus of discontent.

Avant Garde Retard reimagines Avatar director M. Night Shyamalan turned white.

Passionate outrage from Maykazine

A blog post by angered Chinese-American who laments “a great opportunity for aspiring young Asian actors that has been taken away.”

Well, Fuck You Too, Hollywood: Not eloquent but an honest sentiment from a fan.

And it’s not just Asians, even the Angry Black Woman is angry: “I’m holding out one hope — that this is some kind of messed-up viral marketing effort, maybe using reverse psychology to get people all riled up about the film so they’ll blog about it, etc. But if this is really the cast they’re planning to go with, I will definitely be boycotting this movie, and urging everyone I know to do the same.”

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Hollywood A-list mourns Heath Ledger at SAG Awards

Heath Ledger wins Screen Actors' Guild Best Supporting Actor Award

Heath Ledger has won yet another posthumous award for his role in The Dark Knight, this time a Screen Actors' Guild gong.

Ledger's co-star Gary Oldman accepted the prize on behalf of the late actor at the SAG Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

The win puts the Perth-born actor a step closer to becoming just the second performer to win a posthumous Academy Award.

Heath Ledger was mourned by Hollywood's A-List last night, with an emotional Daniel Day-Lewis dedicating his SAG best actor award to the Australian and issuing a plea to the media to leave Ledger's grief-stricken family alone.

"Just stop," Day-Lewis said in his passionate plea.

"We should just stop encouraging people to rake over every detail of his life."

Other nominees for the event wore black ribbons on their gowns and suits to honor Ledger while others, such as Cate Blanchett and Ryan Gosling, spoke lovingly about him as a talented actor and friend.

They also showed their disgust at four religious extremists who staged a protest aimed at Ledger outside Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, the site for last night's 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The protesters, upset by Ledger's role as a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain, carried placards with anti-homosexual slogans.

"It's too ridiculous to talk about," said James Gandolfini, who won the SAG Award best actor in a TV drama for his mob boss role in The Sopranos.

The SAG Awards were supposed to be a night of celebration after a dismal three months in Los Angeles caused by the unresolved screenwriters strike.

Hollywood production has been brought to a standstill and recent awards nights, including the Golden Globes, were lacklustre affairs because the screenwriters' union, in a battle with the studios for a better pay deal, refused to allow its members to participate at the events.

SAG, which represents more than 100,000 actors, has been a strong ally of the screenwriters' union, the Writers Guild of America, so was given a free pass to hold last night's ceremony.

Ledger's shocking death last week left Hollywood's A-List actors in no mood to party.

Most were sickened by the media's coverage of Ledger's death and the paparazzi refusing to let his family and ex-fiancee Michelle Williams mourn in peace.

Ledger's family was forced to hold a private memorial service in Los Angeles yesterday with security officers and Los Angeles police standing guard.

"They should leave all the people in his life alone," Gosling, a nominee for the best actor SAG Award, said on the red carpet.

"It's a hard enough time as it is. I can't imagine what they are going through."

Day-Lewis became visibly upset as he told how he had never met Ledger, but had been awestruck by the Australian's roles in Brokeback Mountain and Monster's Ball.

Day-Lewis, who firmed as the favorite to win the best actor Oscar for There Will Be Blood at next month's Academy Awards after last night's SAG win, described Ledger's performance in Brokeback Mountain as "perfect".

"That scene in the trailer at the end of the film is as moving as anything that I think I've ever seen," London-born Day-Lewis, 50, said in his acceptance speech.

"I'd like to dedicate this to Heath Ledger."

Later, speaking to journalists, Day-Lewis was asked if New York police should probe deeper into Ledger's death.

"I think we should leave him alone," Day-Lewis replied.

"I think we should leave his family alone to suffer their unimaginable grief in private."

The SAG Awards, voted on by more than 110,000 actors, have become a reliable guide to the Academy Awards.

Blanchett suffered a double blow tonight to her history-making run at winning two Oscars at the February 24 Academy Awards ceremony.

The Australian actor, who flew from her home in Sydney to Los Angeles for the awards despite being six months pregnant, was nominated for SAG's best actress prize for Elizabeth: The Golden Age and best supporting actress for I'm Not There.

She received identical Oscar nominations.

Blanchett missed out on both SAG Awards last night, with Britain's Julie Christie (Away from Her) taking the best actress gong and in the surprise of the night, 83-year-old Ruby Dee won the supporting actress SAG for her performance in American Gangster.

Russell Crowe was expected to attend last night's ceremony and present an award, but he did not turn up.

It was probably a good thing as he was also nominated in the best ensemble category for two films, American Gangster and 3:10 to Yuma, but was snubbed.

Best ensemble went to No Country for Old Men.

Spanish actor Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) also firmed as the Oscar favorite for best supporting actor when he won tonight's SAG.

Mob drama The Sopranos, which ended production last year, went out with a bang bigger than any of the hits in the series' history.

The Sopranos dominated, with wins for best TV drama series, Edie Falco won best actress in a TV drama series and Gandolfini won the TV drama series actor SAG.

Fred Tatasciore on "Hulk Vs" and "Wolverine and the X-Men"

Newsarama's Animated Shorts has interviewed voice actor Fred Tatasciore about his dual roles as the Hulk in the Hulk Vs. direct-to-video animated movie and as the Beast in Wolverine and the X-Men. Tatasciore discusess the strain involved in taking a role that involves extended screaming for most of the recording session, working with Steve Blum as Wolverine, and how he developed the character for Beast in Wolverine and the X-Men.

"X-Men" Coming to DVD has just reported that Disney is bringing the long awaited cartoon series X-Men on DVD.

A team of mutants lead by Professor X join together to save humanity from the evil Magneto. Heroes include the eye-laser blasting leader Cyclops, Storm who can control the weather, and the rage and fury of Wolverine.

X-Men was produced by Marvel and Saban, and aired on the Fox Network in 1992. The show features the voices of Cathal J. Dodd as Wolverine, Cedric Smith as Professor X, Norm Spencer as Cyclops, Lenore Zann as Rogue, George Buza as Beast, Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm, Catherine Disher (Dr. Natalie Lambert from Forever Knight) as Jean Grey, Chris Potter (Silk Stalkings and Queer as Folk) as Gambit, Alyson Court (Loonette from the PBS series The Big Comfy Couch, and the voice of Lydia Deitz on Beetlejuice) as Jubilee, and David Hemblen (Lord Dread from the 80s cult TV series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future) as Magneto.

Disney will release X-Men on 2 volume, 2-disc sets. No word yet on number of episodes or bonus features.

X-Men:Volume 1 and X-Men:Volume 2 will hit stores on April 28, 2009.

Warner's "Saturday Morning Collection" Coming to DVD reports that Warner Bros is releasing 2 Saturday Morning cartoon collections from the 60s and 70s.

Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1960s Volume 1 is a 2-disc set containing 15 cartoons from shows such as The Bugs Bunny Show, The Porky Pig Show, Quick Draw McGraw, and Top Cat.

Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1970s Volume 1 is a 2-disc set containing 11 cartoons from shows such as The Flinstones, Funky Phantom, Laff-A-Lympics, and The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour.

Both collections will hit stores on May 19th, 2009.

U.S. Sci Fi Channel to Run "Rave Master" Starting March 16, 2009

The Sci Fi Channel has announced that they will be running "Rave Master", an anime property from TokyoPop. "Gundam 00" will be taking a break after its 1st season concludes. A series of movies, including "Appleseed", "X" and "Street Fighter Alpha", will fill in the gap between the two shows.

The Business

Anime News Network announced that Bandai Entertainment is reacting to economic conditions by reducing its full-time staff and developing a new three year strategy.

When asked about how many people would be laid off, President Ken Iyadomi said, "Those details are not final yet." The company currently has 19 full-time staffers, and the layoffs will affect production and other departments. However, many of those laid off will remain on board as contracted consultants to finish their current projects.

After completing its ongoing release, the company will focus on "strong titles."


Variety reports Toho and Kadokawa Group are reacting to digitalization of the American films business by partnering to convert their screens in Japan to digital transmission and projection by 2012.

Working with telco giants NTT East and NTT West, they will roll out the first conversions this year. Toho's 483 screens and Kadokawa's 112 make up around 20% of the country's 3,300 screens.


GDH K.K. has announced that it will open an IPTV video-on-demand channel dedicated to GONZO anime on the MOD (Multimedia On Demand) service provided by Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd..

CHT is the largest telecommunications company in Taiwan, providing not only local and overseas landline call services, but also mobile services and Internet communication services for home and business purposes.

CHT’s MOD is provided via its ADSL network, subscribers are provided with rental Set Top Boxes to select and receive programs. In addition to broadcast TV channels, CHT MOD offers on-demand services for movies, TV series and anime titles.


AWN and Variety report that Toei Animation will purcahse shares of Hong Kong joint venture Toei Animation Enterprises , turning it into a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Event News

Via Otaku News
London's Bardican will be presenting Japanimation: After Tezuka.

To mark the 20th anniversary of his death, we present a series of screenings inspired by the work of influential animator Osamu Tezuka, the father of modern anime.

Tezuka died in February 1989 leaving behind a number of unfinished works in both comics and animation while his completed works included a huge range of material which had not been filmed or animated.

Since then, the company he founded has been promoting his legacy, both making new Tezuka animation and encouraging other artists to take his work in new directions.

Curated by Helen McCarthy and following on from last year's Tezuka season, this series of screenings presents an opportunity to assess work inspired by Tezuka and review his enduring influence.

Dororo (15*) - Introduced by anime expert Helen McCarthy
18:00 / A rip-roaring fantasy epic - part of the Japanimation: After Tezuka season
28 Jan 09 / 18:00 / Cinema 2

Tezuka's Legacy - 'Black Jack: Episode 1' + 'In The Beginning' (cert tbc) + Q&A with Helen McCarthy
15:00 / A TV series favourites double bill - part of the Japanimation: After Tezuka season
31 Jan 09 / 15:00 / Cinema 2

Phoenix: Immutable Conclusion (15*)
13:45 / A vast saga described by Tezuka himself as his 'life's work' - part of the Japanimation: After Tezuka season
1 Feb 09 / 13:45 / Cinema 2

Akira (15)
15:45 / The anime classic - part of the Japanimation: After Tezuka season
1 Feb 09 / 15:45 / Cinema 2

Treasure Town: Tekkonkinkreet (12A) - Introduced by anime expert Helen McCarthy
20:30 / Michael Arias' award-winning anime
24 Feb 09 / 20:30 / Cinema 2


The Boston Museum of Fine Arts will be showing the Anime Masterpiece presentation of Grave of the Fireflies Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lectures + Courses
Anime: Film and Discussion
7 — 8 pm
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Remis Auditorium

John W. Dower, Pulitzer prize-winning historian and author of
Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II; Roland Kelts, author of JapanAmerica: How Japanese Culture Has Invaded the US; and Susan J. Napier, an authority on Japanese literature and author of Anime: From Akira to Howl's Moving Castle

Critic Roger Ebert called the 1988 film
Grave of the Fireflies "an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation." The screening of this stunning vision of two youngsters' struggle to survive in World War II Japan is followed by a panel discussion with experts in anime.

The film is part of the new Anime Masterpiece series, which is produced by the New York-based company Gorgeous Entertainment with the aim of enhancing the understand and appreciation of the Japanese art of anime.

Audience members will be given complimentary film guides featuring imagery from the film and essays by eminent scholars of Japanese pop culture and animation.


The Art of Coraline opens in San Francisco's The Cartoon Art Museum January 24, 2009

This exhibit includes almost 80 pieces from the extraordinary world of Coraline, created by a team of over 300 artists bringing to life the vision of the world’s foremost stop-motion animation director, Henry Selick.

Animation on North American TV

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim has removed cultural fantasy Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit from their schedule, replacing it with Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 moved into its slot and a second Inuyasha in the empty space.

John Sirabell, CEO of Moribito DVD distributors Media Blasters posted on the Anime on DVD forum "This is a matter between [Cartoon Network] and the producers. If they can work it out, then we will be happy to do the work so it can get the remaining episodes on TV. Otherwise, we will handle the DVD distribution."

Worth Checking Out...


Tim Eldred talks Star Blazers on Sci-Fi Japan

Episode 84 of the Anime Today podcast features an interview with anime writer, lecturer and advocate Helen McCarthy.

In this new interview, McCarthy talks about her newest book – 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide – and how she worked to narrow the list to “just” 500 picks. She also discusses how writing about anime has changed over the years, the globalization of anime, and her upcoming projects.

Hayao Miyazaki's unsurprisingly critical of modern animators

More podcasts looking at stranger, older anime...
CollectionDX on The Great Battle with Genma a.k.a. Harmagedon

Fast Karate for the Gentleman on Bio-Hunter

A heated conversation on feminism in comics draws in opinions of OEL creditors and comparisons between companies.

Matt Alt applies the standards to the maid cafe article to American phenomena

Let's Anime on Miyazaki/Takahata animated Flying Phantom Ship

Jonathan Clements takes apart the live action, TV Grave of the Fireflies

A look at the Polish release of well regarded anime Haibane Renmei

On Otaku USA's site
Big Comic Spirits Spin-off Ikki
"Gonzo does Buffy" Red Garden
Coyote Ragtime Show

Paul Dini on the animated Wonder Woman

The Dragon Ball live action site has been updated with a new trailer

A trio of never-before animated Tezuka characters

Pre-Akira Katsuhiro Otomo

Go Nagai originates Snakes on a Plane here and here

Obama in Air Gear
Obama action figure

Haruhi around the world

Hirohiko Araki (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure), is part of the the Louvre's "Cartoons - The Louvre Invites Comic-Strip Art". His exhibited Rohan au Louvre (Rohan at the Louvre) is a manga set in the museum.

The Hello Kitty hospital is back in the news

Jonathan Nolan Talks About TDK Being Snubbed At The Oscars

Jonathan Nolan wrote a little letter to website Dark Campaign about The Dark Knight being overlooked at Oscar time.

Here's the letter:

hey — not sure who to address this to as it looks like a collective effort, but I just wanted to pass along my thanks.

It’s truly humbling that you guys would take the time and effort to try to get the film recognized. I, like you, was disappointed that Chris didn’t get some recognition this morning, but for Heath and so many of the people who worked so hard on this thing to get nominated is thrilling.

Any nominations for a comic book movie is a thing of beauty no matter how you slice it, and that takes the sting out a bit. Besides, I’ve been to the big show before, and, like any of these things, it’s a little disappointing. Did you know it’s not even an open bar once the show starts? At least this time I would have remembered to bring a little cash so I could buy myself a drink after losing.

The best part of this experience is seeing other people getting passionate about the film the way that we did. It has been a truly incredible experience. So thank you again.


jonah nolan

Click HERE to check out the website and supports its campaign.

New Blu-ray Package Artwork For Upcoming "Wonder Woman" Animated Feature Release

Warner Home Video has recently released the front and back cover art to the upcoming Wonder Woman Blu-ray release.

Click on the thumbnails below for a closer look at the artwork.

Check out the Wonder Woman subsite at The World's Finest for further coverage and information on the upcoming Wonder Woman direct-to-video animated feature. The direct-to-video Wonder Woman animated feature hits DVD and Blu-ray on March 3rd, 2009.

Is Seth Rogen's Green Hornet Dead?

Drew McWeeny of the fledgling entertainment site HitFix had been hearing from various unnamed sources at the Sundance Film Festival that Seth Rogen's plan to bring the '30s pulp hero The Green Hornet may have stalled with the departure of Stephen Chow as the film's director, as reported last month.

Drew says:

Ever since Stephen Chow started to waffle about his participation in the film, I've been hearing rumors that there were major hesitations at Sony. Then at Sundance, I heard several people say that the film was off completely. I spoke this afternoon with a source close to the film, and while they didn't call it completely dead, they did say it is "highly unlikely" that the film will shoot in 2009 at all.

Currently, Sony still has The Green Hornet listed on their release schedule for June 25, 2010 giving Rogen plenty of time to find a new director and a new Kato, but if it gets moved or pulled from that great summer release date, we can probably start taking these rumors more seriously.

"Wolverine" Gets More Deadpool

IESB reports that the recent Vancouver reshoots on "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" will focus on one particular character - Deadpool.

Ryan Reynolds plays the Canadian mercenary who was set to originally only cameo in the project. Now it seems that role has been expanded into full-fledged supporting player with "most of the footage shot including Reynolds and Hugh Jackman."

In the comics, the character is also a part of the Weapon X program who acquires regenerative abilities derived from Wolverine himself. In the comics that operation leaves him disfigured and mentally unstable, resorting to him wearing a mask.

Publicity photos of Reynolds as the character however don't show any such mask or disfigurement though it's expected to be depicted in some way in the final film.

SUPERMAN hampered by lawsuit?

Now that the 'Watchmen' lawsuit has cleared 'Superman' arguments are on the horizon.

Following the wake of 'Superman Returns' there's been quite a bit of speculation about if and when the man of steel would get another shot at the big screen, and in what form that might take. The crux of the problem seems to have been the lackluster performance of Singer's film which, while profitable, wasn't the tent pole phenom that Warner Bros. had hoped for. Also complicating the matter was Warner's apparent intention to shape a big-screen superhero universe in the same manner Marvel is doing now.

But little discussion has been given to the copyrights issue over the character, which is now shared by DC Comics and the estate of Jerry Siegel.

According to a report at Newsarama, the Siegels are alleging that the film deals struck between DC Comics and Warner Bros Studios do not represent fair market value. In other words, the Superman license could fetch more money if it were open to all studios to bid on. It's a reasonable presumption given the close coprorated ties between the two companies.

Newsarama links to "several thousand pages of depositions and corporate documents" in the emerging case, for your reading enjoyment and edification. One interesting document they link to is a PDF containing several unproduced scripts written over the past decade or so.

WATCHMEN art online

The new book 'Watchmen: The Art of the Film' is making the publicity rounds.

Over at Ain't it cool News they've got an exclusive look at artwork crated by Dave Gibbons for the film. These are new illustrations that recreate some key moments from the movie, for licensing purposes.

Then IGN has posted concept art created by comics great John Cassiday for the Nite Owl II character.

Samuel L. Jackson Talks "Afro Samurai: Resurrection"

The Los Angeles Times has spoken with actor Samuel L. Jackson about the upcoming Afro Samurai: Resurrection movie, which debuted last night on Spike TV and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray disc on February 3, 2009. Jackson discusses his incredibly busy schedule, his take on the blood-soaked action anime series and his characters, how he keeps the role distinct from other voices such as The Incredibles' Frozone and Star Wars' Mace Windu, and his upcoming projects.

"Waltz With Bashir" nominated for France's Cesar

Ari Folman's Israeli animated documentary "Waltz With Bashir" -- or, as it's known in French, Valse avec Bachir -- has been nominated for the Cesar Award for best foreign film.

Nominations for the Cesars, France's equivalent of the Oscars, were announced Friday.

Instead of the customary five films, seven are competing in the best foreign film category. Vying with Waltz With Bashir are the live-action Gomorrah (directed by Matteo Garrone), Lorna's Silence (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne), Eldorado (Bouli Lanners), Two Lovers (James Gray), There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson) and Into the Wild (Sean Penn).

There are no separate Cesar Award categories for animated feature or short film.

Competing for French film of the year are Jean-Francois Richet's Mesrine, Martin Provost's Seraphine, Remi Bezancon's The First Day of the Rest of Your Life, Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale, Cedric Klapisch's Paris and Laurent Cantet's The Class. Like Waltz With Bashir, Cantet's picture has been nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film.

The 34th annual Cesar Awards ceremony will take place Friday, February 27 at Paris' Theatre du Chatelet, and will be aired live on Canal Plus. Actor Antoine de Caunes is the host, while actress Charlotte Gainsbourg will serve as the event's honorary president.

Producers Guild of America Award goes to "WALL-E"

"WALL-E" has won the Producers Guild of America's Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures.

The award went to Jim Morris on Saturday at the Hollywood Palladium.

Pixar-Disney's blockbuster won out over Bolt (produced by Clark Spencer) and Kung Fu Panda (Melissa Cobb).

Producer Christian Colson won the PGA's Producer of the Year Award for Slumdog Millionaire, which has been nominated for 10 Academy Awards.

For Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures, the award was given to Simon Chinn for Man on Wire.

Brian Grazer and Ron Howard were given the Milestone Award, while Michael Douglas was presented with the David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures. Milk received the Stanley Kramer Award.

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