Wednesday, January 14, 2009

News - 1/14/09...

New Show Reflects on Cultural Impact of Sat. Morning Cartoons

'Stay Tooned' on Canada's TVtropolis

The current status of Saturday morning animation may be fearfully waffling in the face of a dark age, as some cynics would say, but not everyone is sitting by with quiet reflection on cartoons of decades past. Breakthrough Films & Television, the Toronto, Canada-based production and distribution group whose animation division (Breakthrough Animation) has made an assortment of headlines over the past calendar year, announced they have begun production on a factual entertainment series that profiles Saturday morning cartoons.

Stay Tooned, as the series is currently titled, will reportedly take a reflective eye to weekend animation of the past and analyze the cultural impact it made on unsuspecting youngsters through their many seasons. The program will be a live-action/animated mixed show that will offer clips of old school cartoons and offer commentary and behind-the-scenes on the production on each. Stay Tooned will apparently see production from now through late Spring or Summer of this year, with a very tentative premiere date scheduled for Fall 2009.

"Breakthrough's new factual, live-action/animation series Stay Tooned is launching," Nat Abraham, Head of Distribution, Breakthrough Entertainment, commented to one source, "[and] we are hoping it will attract a more mature audience as it re-visits the iconic cartoon characters many grew up with, from Fred Flintstone to Tweety Bird."

In its current form, Stay Tooned promises interviews with industry experts and fans alike, while still drawing a confident connection between the production and delivery of weekend animation in the past and the whims of popular culture today. In their own words, Breakthrough notes that Stay Tooned will be a "Funny, entertaining and touching love letter to the golden era of Saturday morning cartoons."

The program is in production by Breakthrough Film & Television and media group Canwest, whose cable network TVtropolis is slated to air the show once completed. Dale Burshtein is producing.

Categorized as a live-action property, with a focus on the animated arts, Stay Tooned may be hosted by an animated character (much has yet to be determined as of this writing).

Canwest has ordered thirteen half-hours of the series.

on Breakthrough Films & Television: Toronto-based Breakthrough Films & Television ( is Canada’s most prolific provider of television programming. Current projects include the non-fiction kids’ series Think Big for TVO and Knowledge Network. The company has also produced such kids’ programs as Skooled for TVO and Kids World Sports for BBC Kids in Canada and Discovery Kids in the UK, as well as the award-winning series Dudley The Dragon, currently airing on APTN in Canada.

"Persepolis" up for BBC Four World Cinema Award

Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi's French animated feature Persepolis was announced Thursday as one of the five nominees for the sixth BBC Four World Cinema Award.

The award celebrates the best of contemporary international filmmaking and highlights BBC Four's commitment to international cinema.

Also on the shortlist are Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone), The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (Julian Schnabel), The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona) and 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu).

Additionally this year, a new special award will mark the career of a great filmmaker with Werner Herzog receiving the inaugural BBC Four World Cinema Achievement Award at this month's ceremony.

"This is proof positive of what a terrific year it's been in international film. Each of the shortlisted films enthrals, challenges and entertains in equal measure," said BBC Four controller Richard Klein.

In conjunction with the BBC Four World Cinema Award, selected cinemas including the BFI Southbank (London), The Cornerhouse (Manchester), the Filmhouse (Edinburgh), the Eden Court Theatre (Inverness), Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle upon Tyne), the Lighthouse (Poole), Dundee Contemporary Arts and the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre (Dumfries) will be showing the five shortlisted films in January and February.

More than 200 film critics from across the United Kingdom were invited to choose one title each from the list of around 150 foreign-language films released in the UK last year. A specially assembled jury will debate the films and select an overall winner.

The director of the winning film will receive the award at a special TV ceremony at the BFI Southbank in London, to be held Tuesday, January 27 and hosted by Jonathan Ross. The ceremony will be shown in a special program Saturday, January 31 on BBC Four.

"Life and Times of Tim" Gets Second Season Order

HBO has ordered a second season of the late-night animated comedy series The Life and Times of Tim, according to a report at the Futon Critic. The series was created by Steve Dildarian, who was able to parlay his win of the best animated cartoon award at the US Comedy Arts Festival into the original series order. No timetable for the new episodes was announced.

WALL-E helmer Andrew Stanton talks John Carter of Mars

WALL-E director Andrew Stanton told SCI FI Wire that he is working on a new draft of his proposed John Carter of Mars movie and is aiming for a realistic feel to the live-action movie, his first.

"[I'm] deep into it," Stanton said in an exclusive interview at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award ceremony in Century City, Calif., on Monday, where he accepted the award for best picture of 2008 for WALL-E. "I'm on my next draft of it. We're in preproduction art-wise, and we're starting to talk to actors. So it's full bore."

Stanton confirmed that Carter, based on the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, will be live-action. "Yeah, I think that's the only way," he said. "I mean, there are so many creatures and characters that half of it's going to be CG whether you want it to be [or not], just to realize some of these images that are in the book. But it will feel real. The whole thing will feel very, very believable."

Following is an edited version of the rest of SCI FI Wire's interview with Stanton. John Carter of Mars is slated for release sometime in 2012.

What inspiration did you take for your art concepts?

Well, we're going very authentic, I guess is the way to put it. I don't want to give too much away, but it's such a foundational story to so many films and stories and sci-fi ideas that have come since the '30s and 1912 and stuff. So the trick is how to not make it seem cliché and derivative because it's such an archetype story now.

How would it feel to be the guy who finally got it done?

It would feel awesome, because I spent most of my life just being a fan of those books and being a cheerleader from the sidelines of anybody that was trying to make it. I never thought I would be lucky enough to be one of those guys associated with it, let alone helming it. I would love to break the curse.

How do you even approach that adaptation?

Well, I've surrounded myself with a couple key people that are just really smart, really talented, and we just keep saying the same thing we've always said about any other films. What would I want to see? Or what would I not want to see?

How many pages is your latest draft?

Oh, it's just like a regular movie. It'll be a two-hour film. ... You don't want it more than 120 [minutes], because it only grows, those films.

Is developing a live-action movie the same process as developing a Pixar animated film?

Well, it's not being done by the Pixar crew. It's being done by Disney, and I'm sort of being loaned out. We're sort of using any element that we need to to make the film right. We're not being purist with Pixar, but Pixar's a brand that you have to trust that's for all ages. This story of John Carter is not going to be an all-ages film.

Are you thinking PG-13?

Well, if you do the story right, there's no way you couldn't.

Nickelodeon Announces Plans for SpongeBob SquarePants' 10th Anniversary

Nickelodeon has announced their plans for a year-long celebration of SpongeBob SquarePants' 10th anniversary. Special events throughout the year will include:

* - A live cast performance at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2009
* - A newly relaunched SpongeBob website, now available in beta testing
* - A new SpongeBob documentary
* - New episodes starting with a week of premieres in March, including guest appearances by Dennis Quaid and Johnny Depp.

A prominent role in the on-going pro-social campaign The Big Green Help

For full details, read the press release here.

Heath Ledger’s Golden Globe For ‘The Dark Knight’ Will Go To Daughter

FROM MTV.COM: Heath Ledger emerged victorious Sunday night at the Golden Globes, winning for his portrayal of the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” While director Christopher Nolan accepted the award on the late actor’s behalf, Ledger’s daughter, Matilda Rose, will end up with the Globe, according to Ledger’s mother.

Actually, Sally Bell told that Matilda will get all of her father’s posthumous awards.

“I should imagine that eventually it will be going to Matilda,” Bell said in an interview from her home in Perth, Australia. “At this stage, she is only so young, but down the track, she will have all these things. It will belong to her, because she is part of him.”

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