Thursday, January 29, 2009

News - 01/29/08...

Bart Simpson Promotes Scientology

Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, has taken Bart out of Springfield and plopped him into the real-world by using the iconic character to promote her personal religious causes. Below is a robo-call in which she uses Bart’s voice imploring people to attend a Scientology event. All I can say is it’s extremely uncomfortable hearing Bart in this context.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Twilight in 30 seconds

Thirty Second Bunnies have come up with their own version of the teenage vampire drama Twilight which can be watched here.

Imagi Debunks Rumors of Halt to Astro Boy

Amid reports of financial problems plaguing Hong Kong-based Imagi, president of the company’s U.S. operation Erin Corbett denied in an interview with that the Astro Boy feature film has halted production.

Corbett told the site that the studio has the money to finish the film, due out in October through Summit Entertainment, which she says is about 50 percent rendered and completed.

The company did have to temporarily shut its U.S. offices for a week while it awaits its next round of financing to kick in. The company had sought a bridge loan to fund the interim but was unable to secure that financing.

The closure will have a minimal impact on the film, Corbett said. While U.S. operations were put on hold for a week, the main studio operation in Hong Kong was already scheduled to be closed during this period to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Clotiaux to Head Up Frantic’s Global Efforts

Terry Clotiaux, a 20-year veteran of the visual effects industry, has signed on with Frantic Films, a division of Prime Focus Group, as senior VP and COO of visual effects worldwide.

Clotiaux will work out of Frantic’s Hollywood office and is responsible for building up the company’s international visual effects operations. He will also work to establish the company’s offices in Los Angeles, Winnipeg and Vancouver as the North American bases for Prime Focus.

He comes to Frantic from Digital Domain, where he worked on films such as the upcoming G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Speed Racer and The Golden Compass. Prior to Digital Domain, he worked at Sony Pictures Imageworks, was a vfx producer on such film as the sequels to The Matrix and Independence Day, and served a stint with the Chandler Group. He also has worked at Showscan Film Corp. and Robert Guenette Productions.

Tintin Starts Production, Casting

The final pieces have been put in place for The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, the first film in Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s 3-D motion-capture trilogy adapting the classic European comic book series.

Joining the cast are Jamie Bell (Peter Jackson's King Kong, Defiance, Jumper) as the titular hero and Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace) as Red Rackham, reports Variety.

The film, due out in 2011, began principal production this week in Los Angeles. The film is being co-financed by Paramount and Sony, with Spielberg directing the first installment and Jackson set to helm the second.

Hulk Vs. Leads Week’s DVD Releases

A newly animated Hulk takes on both Wolverine and Thor in this week’s batch of DVD releases.

Hulk Vs. (Lionsgate) includes two animated features from Marvel and is available in a regular widescreen edition ($19.98), a widescreen special edition ($24.98) and on Blu-ray ($29.99).

Also new this week is
Open Season 2, a direct-to-DVD sequel to the Sony Pictures Animation’s debut 2006 feature, available in widescreen DVD ($28.95), UMD ($24.94) and Blu-ray ($39.95) formats.

Other new animated titles out are
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Vol. 1: A Monster Catch (Warner Bros., $14.97), SpongeBob SquarePants: Spongicus (Nick/Paramount, $16.99), You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown! (WB, $19.98), Pink Panther and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection (MGM, $69.98), Tom and Jerry Tales: Vol. 6 (WB, $14.97) and The All-New Superfriends Hour Season 1 Vol. 2
(WB, $26.99).

Ninja Turtles Celebrate 25th with New Wave of Licensing

4Kids Entertainment International has announced a number of new licensing deals to mark the 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The new international licensing agreements are with: J.L. Fontes in Portugal for flip flops, slippers, clogs and umbrellas; New York Zero in Italy for apparel; Passion Secret in Spain for boys boxer shorts, underwear and t-shirts; Zorluteks Tekstil in Turkey for bedding; Rubies Masquerade for children’s Halloween costumes across select European territories including Russia and in South Africa; and Paxos for back to school products covering Greece, Cyprus and Malta.

Additional deals have been signed in Israel with Shoshi Zohar for children’s Halloween costumes and Mitos Novelties for apparel and footwear.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first appeared in a 1984 comic book series from creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. It since has become a worldwide phenomenon, spawning cartoons, toys, movies and merchandise of every type imaginable.

The Secret is Out On Kells Feature

Cartoon Saloon, the Irish animation team behind Skunk Fu!, are finally seeing their animated feature to the screen. The Secret of Kells, co-directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, will hit Irish cinemas on March 6th (distribution by Buena Vista International), and while most of the film is traditionally animated (long live the 2D feature!), there are a number of Flash-animated shots in the film. You can see some stills from a Flash sequence or at Alessandra Sorrentino’s blog. Here’s the latest trailer:

Scooby-Doo may help in real-life Fla. murder case

A CD case bearing cartoon mystery-solver Scooby-Doo's image may provide the clue in a murder trial that began Tuesday in Miami.

Baron Moore, 27, is accused of killing 28-year-old Keith Culbertson in August 2003. He is charged with second-degree murder and grand theft auto.

An ardent Scooby-Doo fan, Culbertson, a Homestead, Florida bartender, had his Toyota 4Runner filled with many Scooby-themed items, including seat-belt sleeves, a steering wheel cover, decals and a CD case.

According to prosecutors, police found the incriminating Scooby-Doo CD case inside Moore's house.

Prosecutors say that Moore shot Culbertson in the face, then stole his SUV. Moore drove the vehicle around for several days, then allegedly dumped Culbertson's body in a Homestead field. Police found the SUV parked in front of an abandoned house near Moore's residence.

The Miami Herald reported that Culbertson was a life-long Scooby-Doo lover who awoke to a Scooby alarm and collected Scooby boxer shorts.

His body was found 28 days after he was last seen. It was clad in Scooby boxers.

5 voice actors nominated for Canada's ACTRA awards

Five nominees for outstanding voice performance were announced Tuesday by ACTRA Toronto, the union representing Toronto's over 15,000 professional film, TV, radio and new media performers.

The five -- all starring in animated TV shows -- are Emily Hampshire and Adrian Truss, both for Ruby Gloom; Rob Tinkler for Cyberchase; Joanne Vannicola for Toot & Puddle; and Jamie Watson for Peep and the Big Wide World.

Nominated for outstanding female performance are Rosemary Dunsmore, Megan Fahlenbock, Sarah Gadon, Karen LeBlanc and Shauna MacDonald. For outstanding male performance, the male nominees are Nicholas Campbell, Jonas Chernick, Daniel J. Gordon, Joris Jarsky and Clark Johnson.

The awards for exceptional performances will be presented February 20 at The Carlu in Toronto. Peter Keleghan will be honored with an ACTRA Award of Excellence.

"Slim Pickings" becomes first claymation 3-D film

PassmoreLab, in cooperation with Spike & Mike, has converted Anthony Lucas' short film Slim Pickings into the first-ever clay animation 3-D film.

The film is one of many shorts that PassmoreLab is planning to convert from 2-D to 3-D in the coming months.

"We're building a library of 3-D shorts with widespread audience appeal in preparation for the upcoming rollout of mass media 3-D," company president Greg Passmore said Wednesday. "When 3-D television and video on demand make their way into mainstream entertainment, PassmoreLab will have a collection ready. This short 'claymation tragedy' was a perfect fit for this effort."

"Slim Pickings worked well because clay animation already has a 3D feel," said PassmoreLab stereographer Nina Page. "There were a lot of shots that allowed for us to pull things out of the focal plane to achieve a more desirable 3D effect."

Australia's Slim Pickings was first released in 1999. The film won the Creative Excellence in an Australian Short Film Award from the Melbourne International Film Festival in 1999, and that same year was nominated for an AFI Award from the Australian Film Institute. It has also been screened at Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation, which occurs annually in La Jolla, California.

Slim Pickings focuses on an unnamed, slightly forlorn creature and his friendly pet-like tomato plant. The creature has seemingly run out of food after eating his last remaining can, labeled "One Old Pea," and faces the moral dilemma of whether or not to eat his trusting plant.

The film tells its story without dialogue, employing a creative combination of expressions, music, and a few squeaks from the creature and plant. Lucas used one shot of the creature's feet early on in the story to establish that he walked, and then afterward included only shots of him from the waist up to make filming more efficient.

Lucas' film titles also include animation shorts The Mysterious Geographic Explorations Of Jasper Morello (a 2005 Oscar nominee) and Holding Your Breath.

PassmoreLab's other recent projects include a 3-D conversion of the cult classic Night of the Living Dead, which is scheduled for release April 1.

"Teen Titans" to Debut on Boomerang on February 2, 2009

Cartoon Network has just issued a press release stating that Teen Titans will begin airing on the Boomerang network starting Monday, February 2, 2009. The show about a quintet of DC Comics teenage superheroes will air Monday-Friday at 10:30 PM (Eastern/Pacific) as part of the "Boomeraction" programming block, which also includes Justice League and The Batman.

Nathan Fillion Discusses Voicing Steve Trevor in "Wonder Woman"

Warner Brothers Animation has released another interview in conjunction with the upcoming Wonder Woman direct-to-video animated movie. This latest interview is with Nathan Fillion, the actor who plays Col. Steve Trevor in the movie. Fillion discusses the challenges and preconceptions he had in bringing Trevor to life, noting that, "I think I’ve carved out a niche for myself in playing the not-so-hero," but that Trevor "is a real guy – he’s very natural, he’s very honest." Fillion also reveals the secret behind his co-star Keri Russell's performance as Wonder Woman: "...she has a jet. It’s not invisible, but it’s close. And she does wear a tiara. Not all the time – you’re not going to see her walking down the street in it. But she’s got it. And it looks good. She wears it well." Among other topics, Fillion also discusses his prominence in sci-fi roles, his past life as a comic-book fanboy, and whether he expects to suffer from the "William Shatner 'Get a Life'" syndrome in the future.

To read the full interview, which is accompanied by more 2 high-definition screenshots from the movie, read the press release here.

Anthony Daniels on Being C-3PO in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars"

Lucasfilm has released an article talking with actor Anthony Daniels about being C-3PO, the stiff protocol droid and stalwart companion of R2-D2 and two generations of Skywalkers. Daniels will reprise his role as C-3PO in the upcoming "Trespass" episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, making him the only actor to play the same role in every on-screen version of the saga. However, rather than feel like the droid is a burden, Daniels stated, "There was a time many years ago when I thought I should move on to other things, but then I thought that was stupid. I'm very fond of Threepio." In the article, he also goes into the freedom that voice-over gives him and the working relationship he has with supervising director Dave Filoni.

"Trespass" premieres this Friday, January 30, 2009, at 9:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on Cartoon Network.

Ratings Roundup: "Wolverine & the X-Men;" Cartoon Network/Adult Swim

* Nicktoons Network has issued a press release noting that Wolverine and the X-Men was the highest-rated premiere the network has ever aired with kids and boys. [Press Release]

* Cartoon Network has reported ratings results for January 2009, scoring double-digit growth compared to January 2008, with aid from the all-day Powerpuff Girls marathon on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. [Press Release]

Yost on IRON MAN

HULK VS scribe runs the show on ARMORED ADVENTURES

Last week Mania talked to Chris Yost, a staple writer over at the animated branch of Marvel Entertainment. While that conversation was largely about 'Hulk Vs', Yost also gave a preview of coming attraction for upcoming Marvel animate fare, including the new toon show 'Iron Man: Armored Adventures'. Yost told us that he's well acquainted with that program, which airs here in the U.S. later this year.

Here's our Q & A with Mr. Yost:

Yost: I was the story editor and head writer for 'Iron Man: Armored Adventures'. That's coming in, I want to say, April.

Mania: Speaking of fan complaints, fans have definitely noticed Tony Stark being a teenager in that one. What what the decision to go so young with Tony?

Mandarin concept design for Iron Man Armored Adventures
© Marvel Entertainment

It was really to make the character a little more approachable for younger kids. If you look at Tony Stark: He loves the ladies, he loves a little drinky here and there. He's a weapons maker. He's not the most kid-friendly character in the world.

So that was one of the instances where, how do you make that character more approachable for children?

They'd done this before with
'X-Men: Evolution' and that worked out alright. I think by the end of that show we had a really good following.

I think 'Iron Man: Armored Adventures' really speaks to the character of Tony Stark. He's recognizable. He's still dealing with Star Industries. He's still got Pepper and Rhodey there. Still an obsessive character. Still hunting down technology. You're going to recognize him.

Mania: Will we see a lot of Marvel Team-Ups?

You'll see a few.

Blizzard as he appears in Iron Man Armored Adventures
© Marvel Entertainment

You're also going to get, in my opinion, one of the best translations of the Iron Man rogue's gallery. I think visually the characters are stunning. We throw 'em at you dude.

Mania: Which villains will we see?

Yost: Name 'em. Living Laser, Killer Shrike, Blizzard, Mandarin, Dreadknight. Literally a slew of characters.

Mania: I didn't hear Fin Fang Foom in that list...

I didn't list off 20 characters. I'm not saying he's in there. I'm not saying he's not!

Any Iron Man fan is going to be pretty pleased with the representation of the rogues gallery.

Mania: Are there any Marvel character that you'd love to work on but haven't had a chance too yet?

There's probably 4000.

Whiplash as he appears in Iron Man Armored Adventures
© Marvel Entertainment

Mania: What's at the top of your list?

Yost: The majors are pretty well covered.

The great thing about Marvel is you'd love to see them branch out know, like an Adult Swim
'Daredevil' series would be amazing. Or a super-young 'Power Pack'.

There's a lot of places that Marvel Animation has yet to go, that hopefully will be coming soon, you know?

Hopefully with the success of the
'Hulk Vs' DVD it'll bring in a bigger audience. You can see the possibilities.

A lot of it depends on the Film side too. What's the film side doing that we want to support?

You're going to be seeing a new
'Thor' series. You're going to be seeing an 'Avengers' series.

Mania: Do you have plans to work on the feature film side?

Yost: I wouldn't say no, but to be honest with you I'm working on the
'Avengers' series right now and I could not be happier. I think that show is gonna just be amazing.

Promo art for 'Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes' the new TV show from Marvel Animation
© Marvel Entertainment

Mania: Is it the classic roster...the roster for the movie?

Well, they released an image that has Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Ant-Man and Wasp on it. It's pretty classic to me.

The roster will grow as the Avengers rosters will do.

Mania: Is Spider-Man trapped in some sort of alternate reality because of licensing? I keep waiting for the new Spider-Man animated DVD movie.

Yost: I know that 'Spectacular Spider-Man' is a pretty great show.

Mania: Anything else in the pipeline from Marvel that we haven't heard about?

Yost: Frank Paur, who directed 'Hulk vs Wolverine', is handling 'Planet Hulk' and from what I hear it's amazing.

Johnny Rico & The Federation Want You To Help Stomp Out Child Abuse!! Would You Like To Know More??

Here's a look at a series of odd spots involving STARSHIP TROOPERS.

Casper Van Dien returns in the Johnny Rico role (from
STARSHIP TROOPERS #s 1 & 3) for a campaign aimed towards the awareness and prevention of child abuse.

The following press release will tell you more:

Actor Casper Van Dien suits up as “Johnny Rico” to tackle child abuse in series of PSAs for Childhelp

Starship Troopers star urges people to join him in fighting back against child abuse

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (January 28, 2009) – Johnny Rico, lead character in the hit movie Starship Troopers, is suiting up once again to fight back against the evils of the galaxy. Hollywood actor Casper Van Dien has reprised the combat savvy character for Childhelp to talk about fighting a different war – the war against child abuse. Two new public service announcements (PSAs) were filmed for Childhelp, one of the leading organizations dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse, and recently made their debut online.

The PSAs were put together by an all star team including Academy Award winning visual effects directors Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, with the assistance of their brother Jeffrey Skotak who is now also working in visual effects. Robert and Dennis Skotak won Oscars for their visual effects work in the movies
Terminator 2, Aliens and The Abyss. The filming was done by John Murlowski, who filmed Starship Troopers 3, and the editing by Kevin VanHook, who has worked on many blockbusters including I, Robot and Daredevil.

“Everyone jumped at the chance to come together and support such a great cause,” said Casper Van Dien. “Four children die every day in this country because of child abuse and neglect, and we all need to do whatever we can to help children in need.”

The PSAs can be viewed on the Childhelp website at

About Childhelp

In 2009, Childhelp commemorates 50 years of bringing the light of hope and healing into the lives of countless children. CEO and Co-Founder Sara O’Meara and President and Co-Founder Yvonne Fedderson started Childhelp in 1959 , establishing it as a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect and at-risk children. Childhelp’s approach focuses on advocacy, prevention, treatment and community outreach.

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD®, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and receives calls from throughout the United States, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. Childhelp’s programs and services also include residential treatment services; children’s advocacy centers; therapeutic foster care; group homes and child abuse prevention, education and training. Childhelp also created the Childhelp National Day of Hope®, held each April during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, that mobilizes people across America to join the fight against child abuse.

Here are the Rico vids:

What's Up? Take a look at the new onesheet

Disney/Pixar has released a new onesheet for
Up, its upcoming 3-D animated comedy adventure, about 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America.

Carl discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 9-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell.

Up features the voices of Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger, Delroy Lindo and Jordan Nagai.

The film, from Academy Award-nominated director Pete Docter
(Monsters, Inc.), will be presented in Disney Digital 3-D in select theaters and opens May 29.

Why Coraline director Henry Selick doesn't want to be Pixar

Henry Selick, writer-producer-director of the upcoming 3-D stop-motion-animated feature
Coraline, told SCI FI Wire that he's mulling several movies as his next project, including Paranorman and a big-screen version of Philip Pullman's children's book Count Karlstein. Both are in keeping with Selick's offbeat aesthetic sensibility: He tells us he doesn't want to be another Pixar.

For now, Selick has nothing lined up at the moment, but he addessed both potential films during a recent exclusive interview about
Coraline, which will open nationwide on Feb. 6. Following are edited excerpts of the conversation.

What is Paranorman about, and how far along is that?

Paranorman is something that I am not going to direct. But I will be the creative producer on it. My head story artist is a young guy named Chris Butler. It's his own original story and something I believe in. It's kind of a funny zombie tale [about a teenage boy leading his town's fight against an influx of the undead]. I'm helping him put together the team and looking for partners with our studio [Laika]. So my first effort is going to be to help him put the team together. Paranorman is moving quite well. There's a second draft of that screenplay that's just about finished. I have hopes for that. There are some characters designs, and we're talking about talent. So that's really starting to heat up.

And what about Count Karlstein?

That's on the back burner. It's a Philip Pullman kids' book from before The Golden Compass and His Dark Materials. A friend of mine and I, we basically cooked up a story for it a few years ago, and now I've been able to option it. Count Karlstein, it's sort of a re-imagining of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. What I love about it is that the hero is an incredible liar. And instead of being the boy who cried wolf and being punished for that, it turns out it's a great gift. And it's the thing that is her weapon against evil. So that's something where I already have worked out a film story, but I haven't written the screenplay yet.

Do you actually have a next project, or is it all pretty much riding on what happens with Coraline?

There's a huge amount riding on what happens with [Coraline]. I don't know if it will be black and white. The investors, they don't need their money this week, but as long as they see that through the theatrical release to the DVD release, and all those revenue streams, that they can pay for the film, they'll be happy. So, yeah, a lot is riding on it. But a lot of it is riding on it just in terms of creativity. Can we [Laika] go our own path and not just be another Pixar or DreamWorks wannabe animation studio? That's a huge part of this, because I'd like us to keep doing a little more unique projects and subject matter.

Samuel L. Jackson wants you to kick butt in Afro Samurai

Samuel L. Jackson and Kelly Hu, who provide voices for Afro Samurai/Ninja Ninja and Okiku in the new
Afro Samurai video game, told reporters they enjoyed putting M-rated violence in players' hands. Jackson, who also produces the TV series on which the game is based, felt violence was imperative to the Afro Samurai experience.

"I just wanted to make sure the game was true to the spirit of the series itself," Jackson told a group of reporters on Tuesday in Hollywood at the game's red-carpet premiere. "That it was sexy, that it was hip and had the elements of old and new and that the violence was of a level that made people really want to play it."
Okiku is a non-playable character in the game, but she still fights in the background and in cinematic sequences. Hu had to provide more grunts and huffs than a normal episode of the show requires.

"It's a lot more fighting, I think," Hu said on the red carpet. "A lot more fighting noises and stuff like that that you have to do for the game, but pretty much the same thing. I use the same voice. It's the same character."

Though she has not played the final game yet herself, Hu hopes that the player can actually kill her.
"That would be fun, though, wouldn't it?" she said. "It wouldn't be the first time I died in a video game though, you know."

Jackson noticed no difference between recording voices for the game and the show.
"Not at all," he said. "Same as on the series. I still do Afro Samurai and Ninja Ninja, the two characters, him and his alter ego or audience member that travels around with him."

The actor and samurai enthusiast added that video games are not his strong suit:
"Not a big gamer, no."

The Afro Samurai game is in stores now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Check out the final poster for Watchmen!

Yahoo! Movies has debuted the final Watchmen onesheet poster, which we've helpfully reproduced for you after the jump.

Watchmen, from director Zack Snyder, is based on the classic graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It opens March 6.

No comments: