Friday, February 6, 2009

News - 02/06/08...

President Obama Weighs In On Spider-Man, Batman And His Favorite Superheroes
In a surprise appearance Tuesday at a DC area elementary school, newly elected US President Barack Obama took the middle road when pressed for information about his superhero loyalties, testifying to second-grade students that both Batman and Spider-Man are his two favorite superheroes.

The fanboy-friendly Commander-in-Chief has been a hot topic in the comics world, with his appearance in “Amazing Spider-Man” #583 going on its fifth printing and Spider-Man and Superman uniting for a rare joint appearance during his inauguration.

Previously, MTV Splash Page brought you reactions from comic book creators to Obama’s election — a campaign victory that seemed to receive significant support from comic book characters well beforehand.

Batman Is a Jerk

Thank you, Corey McDaniel, for taking up the challenge put forth over at The dance mix was great an all, but someone has to put that stupid Christian Bale in his place. Below McDaniel has released his animatic set against some of Bale’s spittle-laced tirade, and he’s threatening to animate if fully. If you think he should, let ‘em know in the comments… [NSFW - language]

A Few More Seconds From Titmouse

Alright, I may have been a bit too hasty yesterday with my Titmouse 5 Second Animation Day post. I posted the many splenderous shorts that emerged from this year’s event at Titmouse Inc, but in my haste I missed a few. Your attention is required below for part 2, hastily:

The Magic Gnomes by Mike Moloney

Bunny Chop by Joshua Wysocki and Matt Cruickshank

Flatulene by Rev Dave Johnson

And another one from Joshua.

The Animation Fan's Guide to New York Comic Con 2009

The New York Comic Con opens today, February 6, 2009, and is running all weekend. Below are all the panels, screenings, and events that might be of interest to animation fans heading out to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. For full details about any of these panels, visit the New York Comic Con website.

2:00 - 3:00 PM: The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye (Room 1A04)
2:15 - 3:15 PM: Claymore (Room 1A02)
3:15 - 4:15 PM: W!LDBRAIN Panel (Room 1A18)
3:30 - 4:30 PM: Haruhi Suzumiya (Room 1A02)
4:00 - 5:00 PM: Yatterman (IGN Theater)
4:30 - 5:30 PM: From Panthers to Princesses: Examining Diversity in Animation (Room 1A18)
4:45 - 5:45 PM: Batman: The Brave and the Bold panel (Room 1A06)
4:45 - 5:45 PM: Superjail panel (Room 1A08)
4:45 - 5:45 PM: Maria Watches Over Us (Room 1A02)
5:30 - 7:30 PM: Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder Premiere (IGN Theater)
6:00 - 7:00 PM: Shin Chan (Room 1A02)
7:15 - 8:15 PM: Shigurui (Room 1A02)
8:30 - 10:30 PM: Wonder Woman
premiere and panel (IGN Theater)

11:00 AM - 1:15 PM: Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles (Room 1A04)
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Marvel & BET: Black Panther panel (Room 1A23)
11:15 AM - 12:15 PM: Code Geass (Room 1A02)
12:30 - 1:30 PM: D.Gray-Man (Room 1A02)
12:30 - 1:30 PM: Anime for Comic Fans, Comics for Anime Fans (Room 1A17)
12:30 - 1:30 PM: Cartoon Network's FusionFall (Room 1A24)
12:30 - 1:30 PM: Bandai Entertainment panel (Room 1A22)
1:00 - 2:00 PM: Star Wars Decade: Where Were You in '99? (IGN Theater)
1:45 - 2:45 PM: Bill Plympton's "Horn Dog" and Other Wild Things (Room 1A02)
1:45 - 2:45 PM: Marvel Animation panel (Room 1A06)
1:45 - 2:45 PM: Robot Chicken panel (Room 1A08)
2:30 - 3:30 PM: Disney Presents Up and Surrogates (IGN Theater)
2:45 - 3:45 PM: FUNimation panel (Room 1A07)
3:00 - 4:00 PM: Gurren Lagann (Room 1A02)
4:00 - 5:00 PM: Summit Entertainment (Astro Boy) (IGN Theater)
4:00 - 5:00 PM: Witchblade (Room 1A04)
4:00 - 5:00 PM: J.J. Sedelmaier's "It All Started Here" (Room 1A07)
4:15 - 5:15 PM: Gundam 00 (Room 1A02)
5:15 - 7:30 PM: Afro Samurai: Resurrection (Room 1A04)
5:15 - 6:15 PM: Voice Actors and the City panel (Room 1A18)
5:30 - 7:30 PM: Up Preview Screening (IGN Theater)
6:30 - 7:30 PM: Lucky Star (Room 1A07)
6:45 - 7:45 PM: FUNimation Sneak Preview (Room 1A22)
6:45 - 7:45 PM: The Venture Bros "panel" and variety show (Room 1A08)

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM: VIZ Media panel (Room 1A23)
11:00 AM - 1:15 PM: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Room 1A04)
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM: MoCCA (Room 1A21)
11:15 AM - 12:15 PM: History of Super Hero Movies: Past, Present and Future (Room 1A22)
11:15 AM - 12:15 PM: Emma (Room 1A02)
12:15 - 1:15 PM: TMNT Animation: 25 Years and Going Strong (Room 1A23)
1:30 - 2:30 PM: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Panel! (Room 1A14)
1:30 - 2:30 PM: TMNT Photo Opportunity (Kids Zone 3)
2:45 - 5:00 PM: Living Legends (Room 1A14)
2:45 - 3:15 PM: TMNT Photo Opportunity (Kids Zone 3)
3:00 - 4:00 PM: Aria (Room 1A02)

Missing Lynx Nabs Spain’s Goya Award

If you needed proof of the growth of the feature animation industry in Spain, all you have to do is take a look at the four titles nominated for the Goya Awards (Spain’s equivalent of the Oscars) in the Animation category. Donkey Xote (Filmax/Lumiq/Green Publicidad), The Missing Lynx (Kandor Graphics, Perro Verde Films, Green Moon), The Spirit of the Forest (Dygra Films) and RH+, The Vampire of Seville were the four features up for the honor last week. Directed by Raul Garcia, The Missing Lynx (El Linc Perdido) was the winner of the prestigious award during the nationally broadcast ceremony last Sunday.

Missing Lynx
is a CG-animated feature about a group of animals who have to escape an evil hunter’s scheme to capture them and deliver them to a mad millionaire. The feature was released in Spain last December and has already sold to 36 countries.

Dygra Films’
The Spirit of the Forest is a sequel to the studio’s successful 2D animated film about a band of animals who hatch up a plan to fight a powerful businessman who wants to build a highway through their home. David Rubin directs this environmentally conscious fable—which has a strong English-language voice cast including Sean Astin, Angelica Huston, Ron Perlman and Giovanni Ribisi.

Directed by Jose Pozo
(El Cid: The Legend) Donkey Xote is a CG-animated, family-friendly take on the classic book by Spain’s literary legend Miguel Cervantes, while RH+, the Vampire of Seville
is quite a departure from the usual animated titles aimed at children and family audiences. Directed by Antonio Zurera, this adult-themed 2-D animated movie follows a family of vampires who end up in New York City after working as servants in a castle for 500 years. Although we have no news of any U.S. distributors picking up any of these four features, we hope the awards spotlight will help these titles get more exposure and reach American audiences in the near future.

Academy Sets First Animated Feature Symposium Feb. 19

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will celebrate its nominees for best animated feature at its first Animated Feature Symposium on Feb. 19.

Animation historian Tom Sito will host the event, which will be held at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills starting at 7:30 p.m.

The symposium will feature clips from the nominated films—Bolt, Kung Fu Panda and WALL•E—and onstage discussions with the nominated filmmakers.

Tickets for the free event have sold out, but a stand-by line will form outside the theater to which numbers for any available tickets will be handed out at about 5:30 p.m.

Lumenas Sets Murphy, Brady for Santa Claus Pic

Salt Lake City-based Lumenas Animation Studios has hired a writer and director for its first animated feature, The Legend of Santa Claus.

Tab Murphy will write the script and Colin Brady will direct the film, which is the first part of a planned trilogy, Variety reports.

Film is planned for a 2010 release, with the sequels set for 2012 and 2014.

Wright Adds Animation to Scott Pilgrim

Director Edgar Wright’s movie version of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s popular graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim is going to include several hand-animated sequences, according to one of the film’s stars.

The news came from actor Brandon Routh, best known for his starring turn in Superman Returns, who spoke with at the premiere of Fanboys.

Routh will play one of the ex-boyfriends of the title character’s love interest in the film, which is titled Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and is set to start filming later this year.

Lux Interior, The Cramps' lead singer, dead at 60

Lux Interior, lead singer and co-founder of horror-punk group The Cramps, died early Wednesday at Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California. He was 60.

Described on the band's official Web site as "the psycho-sexual Elvis/Werewolf hybrid from hell," he died of a pre-existing heart condition, publicist Aleix Martinez said in a statement: "He and wife Poison Ivy's contributions with The Cramps have had an immeasurable impact on modern music."

Interior -- who took his stage name from a car ad -- was the voice of Rayo X in the Mexican cartoon feature film Los campeones de la lucha libre. The action comedy about Mexican wrestling was released last July.

He also guested as the lead singer of the Bird Brains in the special 2002 SpongeBob SquarePants episode Spongebob's House Party (also known as "Party Pooper Pants").

The Cramps emerged from the original New York punk scene of CBGB and Max's Kansas City, with a singular sound and iconography.

Born Erick Lee Purkhiser near Stow, Ohio, near Akron, on October 21, 1948, he met his wife-to-be Kristy Wallace in Sacramento, California in 1972. She later took on the stage name Poison Ivy.

With Interior on lead vocals and Ivy on Guitar, the pair started the Cramps in New York. In the late 1970s, during the early days of punk, such Manhattan spots as CBGBs hosted The Cramps alongside such acts as the Ramones and Patti Smith.

Sometimes known as "psychobilly," The Cramps mixed rockabilly and surf guitar, along with a strong dash of midnight-movie horror.

Tall, thin and pale, the black-haired Interior would go on stage without his shirt. The Cramps would put on the scare with such songs as "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" and "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns."

The 1979 debut EP Gravest Hits (1979) made the band famous.

In 1987, Interior was rumored to have died from a heroin overdose. Flowers and funeral wreaths were sent to Ivy.

"At first I thought it was kind of funny," he told the Los Angeles Times at the time. "But then it started to give me a creepy feeling."

Interior and Ivy remained central to The Cramps, although the group's lineup often changed.

The 2004 rarities collection How to Make a Monster was the last release for The Cramps, which were still on tour last November.

"Master Mind" seeks Robert Downey, Fey, Stiller

DreamWorks Animation is in negotiations with Robert Downey Jr., Tina Fey and Ben Stiller to head the voice cast of superhero comedy Master Mind, scheduled for release November 5, 2010.

The movie satire is about a villainous genius with nothing to live for after he kills his good-guy enemy by accident. The movie's title may change, the Hollywood Reporter said Thursday.

Stiller is a producer on Master Mind through his own company, Red Hour Films. Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons wrote the screenplay.

DreamWorks Animation is scheduled to have Monsters vs. Aliens in theaters in March. How To Train Your Dragon and Shrek Goes Fourth are set for 2010 release, while Kung Fu Panda II is slated for 2011.

Meanwhile, Paramount, which acts as DreamWorks Animation's distributor, has an animated movie of its own, Rango (starring Johnny Depp), in production for release in March 2011.

Fey produces, writes and stars in NBC's 30 Rock. She most recently starred in the Universal comedy Baby Mama and is attached to star in the 20th Century Fox comedy movie Date Night with Steve Carell.

Stiller most recently co-wrote, directed and starred in last summer's DreamWorks comedy Tropic Thunder. He'll be in the sequel Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian in May.

Downey Jr. was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Tropic Thunder. He has The Soloist reaching theaters in April, and Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man 2 in production this year.

Isla Fisher joins voice cast of Verbinski's Rango

Isla Fisher has become the female voice lead of director Gore Verbinski's animated adventure Rango, written by John Logan.

The star of Confessions of a Shopaholic star will join Johnny Depp and Abigail Breslin, already signed to the Paramount Pictures project. The story is about a household pet (voiced by Depp) who embarks on an adventure to find his true self.

Also in the voice cast are Alfred Molina, Ray Winstone, Harry Dean Stanton and Ned Beatty. The studio plans a March 18, 2011 release.

Fisher's most recent role was as the star of last year's romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe. She is attached to star in two more movie comedies: The Cookie Queen (Universal) and Groupies (Paramount).

Lucasfilm on Tracking a Traitorous Clone Trooper in New "Clone Wars" Episode

Lucasfilm has released information and a still photo for this week's episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The episode "Hidden Enemy" focuses on clone troopers Commander Cody and Captain Rex as they attempt to track down a traitorous clone trooper feeding information to the enemy.

"Hidden Enemy" premieres on Friday, February 6, 2009, at 9:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on Cartoon Network.

The complete release from Lucasfilm follows:

Captain Rex and Commander Cody must uncover a traitor in an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS

Commander Cody and Captain Rex consider their clone brother’s betrayal in “Hidden Enemy,” an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Feb. 6, on Cartoon Network.

Captain Rex and Commander Cody must find the traitor in their ranks in “Hidden Enemy,” an all-new episode of the hit animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, premiering at 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Feb. 6, on Cartoon Network.

In the episode, the clones discover evidence that one of their brothers is leaking information to the enemy. Faced with the betrayal, Cody and Rex must uncover the spy before he is able to thwart the Republic’s efforts to liberate Christophsis from a Separatist siege.

Director Steward Lee and writer Drew Greenberg were both drawn to the chance to look at the first break in the ranks of the clones – an ominous sign of things to come.

“I thought it was interesting because the clone’s logic is understandable,” Lee says. “He no longer wants to be just a slave to the Jedi, and wants to try and break that infrastructure. He thinks he’s doing the right thing for all the clones and that the sacrifice is worth it.”

“It’s all about the brotherhood, and how far those boundaries stretch,” Greenberg adds. “Even the guy who turns out to be the bad guy makes the case that he was doing it for his brothers. This is about what it means to be a clone and what it means to be part of that brotherhood.”

“If one Clone can break from his brothers, and what he is bred for as a soldier of the Republic, and act on his own," Lee says, " how many more would do the same? This creates an interesting beginning of something to come.”

June Foray Documentary Coming Summer 2009

Coming Summer 2009 from Abra-Cadabra Productions is a documentary on the First Lady of Cartoon Voices, June Foray.

This 30-minute DVD is narrated by Gary Owens and features interviews with a number of noted animation industry talents such as Bill Melendez, Phil Roman, Rob Paulsen, Joe Alaskey, Will Ryan, Art Leonardi, Eric Goldberg, and Bill Littlejohn.

You can view the trailer at the official documentary site, or if you have difficulty with the flash loading you can also see it on Mark Evanier's site.

The documentary is also slated to play at select theaters in California this summer.


There's a new 'Dragonball Evolution' trailer popping up on the web today. This one has not yet been officially released from Fox, who is having quite a time of it with material coming out on Japanese markets before they have a chance to sign off on it. Enjoy it while you can!

GREEN LANTERN on the fast track... and look who they want to direct...

Aint It Cool News' Quint hears through the grapevine who may direct DC's new Green Lantern movie -

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I grew up a Marvel kid, but I can tell you two characters I'd love to see brought out of DC's Universe and projected 50 feet high are Captain Marvel and Green Lantern.

Green Lantern is iconic and his powers lend itself to making a really fun, huge budget event picture. With both Justice League and Supes nowhere near happening it seems Warner Bros is wanting to get Green Lantern off the ground with GOLDENEYE, ZORRO and CASINO ROYALE's Martin Campbell in charge.

According to Variety, negotiations are underway with Campbell, so thing's signed, but I like their thinking in making this their new franchise.

I'd imagine they'd want to go for a Green Lantern Corps and not the magic ring of the first Green Lantern... Either way, blue oompa loompas or magic rings lead more to a giant scale fantasy epic action movie.

I think Campbell has a great eye for action, so count me excited if this moves forward. You?

New teaser poster for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

[Update: has two other new teaser posters!]

The Italian MyMovies site has posted a teaser poster for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which I've helpfully posted for you below.

Half-Blood Prince, based on the sixth of J.K. Rowling's beloved books, opens July 17.

Joss Whedon reveals more Dollhouse secrets, and he wants you squirming

Joss Whedon, whose Fox sci-fi series Dollhouse premieres Feb. 13, told reporters on Thursday that his purpose with the new show is to make viewers uncomfortable.

In Dollhouse, a top-secret organization wipes the memories of its agents, called "actives," then implants them with new personalities to perform "missions" for paying clients before having their memories wiped again when they are finished.

"Part of the mandate of the show is to make people nervous," Whedon said in a conference call with reporters. "To make them identify with people they don't like and get into situations they don't approve of and also look at some of the heroic side of things and wonder if maybe they were wrong about what motivated those as well."

Whedon also offered an advance look at the show's first few episodes. The show will air Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT, after Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The following Q&A features edited excerpts of Whedon's conference call. (There are spoilers ahead!)

The second episode is so outrageous, you do Most Dangerous Game on TV. Why didn't you start out that way?

Outrageous is always good. That episode was meant originally to be around episode five or possibly even eight. It was the network who said, "Excuse me, did you say bow hunting? That will come second, please." It kind of got bumped up further, but you're not the first person to say, "Why didn't you just open with that?" My answer would be, "I don't know. I had the other idea first." Basically, I think it's one aspect of it, the bigger-than-life adventure, but we have episodes that, I think, are equally insane and in some ways even more beautiful. So if people watch episodes and think they should have opened with this, that means the episodes are getting better and I'll take an upward curve any day.

Not even the action though, just finding out someone could hire a doll to hunt and kill her is gripping.

Well, they didn't actually mean to hire her out to be hunted and killed. Somebody said, "Well, how come things go wrong with the Dollhouse?" That's a question I've gotten. It's like, "So that we can have a show." Obviously something's going to go wrong or strangely right in every episode."

What topics do you want to address in the show that you haven't before?

Well, the constant topic of identity is one. There are a couple of things that were originally on the slate that didn't quite fit the venue and had to stand back. We had an episode about Rwandan boy soldiers that was really about how we imprint people now, how we literally brainwash people and contrasting that with the Dollhouse. There was an episode that was really about perversion. It was about sexual shame and people's inability to deal with real people that was, I thought, ultimately very heartfelt and very strange and very beautiful, but again, did not make the cut for the first 13. So those were some that would be coming up.

Topher, the programmer played by Fran Kranz, mentions Adam and Eve. How much will you explore theology?

I will explore it only insomuch as people will tend to use it as a metaphor for the way they talk. As an atheist, I'm not going to spend a huge amount of time with it unless there's a point about the way religion interacts with our humanity that I think needs to be made. The Garden of Eden stuff, you can't stop that. It keeps coming up because it's the mythos that I was brought up with, [and] it's a very powerful [one] in this place. I would say I'm more interested in philosophy than theology.

Should we look at other cast members as possible covert actives?

Not in the first season, although we've discussed a lot of permutations pretty much laying out the situation a little bit simply at first. We're going to twist the knife in some people. But more than any of the actives, it's the people running the place who have their own secrets that are going to be fun to pull away at.

Could the Dollhouse just create an army of ninjas? Or more seriously, could there be people walking around with fake personalities and not even know it?

Both of those things will probably happen in later seasons. What you can accomplish and what you can destroy with this technology is something that we're going to be asking increasingly towards the end of the series. But for this first season, we did keep the premise fairly simple, and the Dollhouse is fairly strict about what they'll use this technology for. So no ninja armies just yet.

How long will you dangle these threads of FBI agent Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) investigating the Dollhouse, Echo (Eliza Dushku) finding her identity, that weird naked guy, etc.?

Well, we definitely start entwining things this season. There's a lot of payoff in this season. There are some things we draw out, and there are some things that we pay off fairly heavily so that people don't get the feeling that they're just going to tease me every week. Paul Ballard is going to be hunting the Dollhouse, and obviously he's going to be one step behind them for a while, but then every now and then, he's going to come up against them in a rather abrupt fashion.

He's not going to be the reporter in The Hulk, always one step behind. This creepy naked guy will be explained, and Echo's progression is a constant in the show, her search for herself, so that's something that is being spun out episode by episode, just different little aspects, like she takes a little memento away from every engagement. We kind of took some of the things we were going to hold for a few years and said, "Hey, let's just hit her in the head with a frying pan, because that'll keep 'em excited." It's not like we lack for places to go.

Who are the other dolls and how will they develop?

You know, obviously we start out focusing on Echo but the friends that she makes, in particular Sierra [Diche Lachman], all have their own stories, their own reasons for being there and their own sort of reaction to things. As her friendship forms more, we get to spend more time with the other dolls. We get a real taste of how easy they have it and how hard they do, how controlled their lives are and how out of control they can get because they have no skills for dealing with the world. So I can't really go into specifics, but we pretty much get to start putting everybody through the ringer about halfway through. It starts to get complicated for all of them.

How much will we have to follow from the beginning, and how accessible will each episode be to new viewers?

We always refer to the first seven episodes as the seven pilots. You can't just shut down after episode one. So the first five are all stand-alone engagements where the premise is made clear and the cast of characters is made clear and the relationships are made clear. Obviously, there is some progression in those relationships, but there is nowhere where you have giant pieces of information missing or where you have to sit through a three-minute "Previously on ... " in order to get to the show. We were very careful about that.

In the retooling of the show, what do you miss about your original vision?

There are things I miss from my original vision, and there are things that I think are better the way it is. Ultimately, the show ends up going exactly where I hoped it would go. There are elements of intrigue and high-stakes suspense that have been added, but I don't think they hurt the show at all. It goes where we planned to have it go. The idea was always to have a mythology that was counterbalanced by a stand-alone aspect. The mythology would play out, but you would feel a sense of resolve, be that an engagement or some other aspect every week.

It's more work for a staff to drum up that sort of enthusiasm and that identification for the guest of the week. Every week you not only have to create a new world and care about it, but that she was actually going to have to join the guest cast because she would be a new person. It's a challenge, but it's one that we knew going in we were going to have to tackle. I think we're getting better at it. It's definitely a different skill. ...

Who would win if Faith fought Echo?

Faith would win unless of course Echo had been imprinted with Faith's personality in which case I'm going to call it a tie.

1 comment:

Eric said...

While writing my novel for pre-teens, I did a lot of research on Christmas around the world. It is interesting how the different cultural versions of Santa Claus, or Saint Nicholas, or Father Christmas, and many more, all have one thing in common. That is, they remind us of the benefits of unselfish, anonymous, generosity. It’s the idea of giving that should be in focus; we are all on this planet together for the long run. So let’s be kind to one another.

All the best,
Eric Dana Hansen, Author of "IAN, CEO, North Pole"