Wednesday, February 11, 2009

News - 02/11/09...

X-Men animated DVD volumes details released

Buena Vista Home Entertainment have revealed details on the April 28 2009 release of the X-Men animated series which comes to disc in two volumes. Fans will be pleased that the two-disc sets will present the episodes in chronological order, with none of the programs missing in the first run of 32 shows.

From the press release:

“Experience the classic Marvel legacy as the X-Men animated series finally explodes onto DVD for the first time. Featuring stories adapted directly from the original comic books, this collection is a piece of Marvel history and a must-have for every X-Men fan.

Discover the origins of your favorite characters, uncover the secrets of Magneto and more of the world’s most diabolical villains and relive 32 episodes of the series, from the two-part Night of The Sentinels through the five-part amazing epic Phoenix Saga, in this must-have collection!”

VOLUME 1 Disc 1:
Night of the Sentinels (Part 1)
Night of the Sentinels (Part 2)
Enter Magneto
Deadly Reunions
Captive Hearts
Cold Vengeance
Slave Island
The Unstoppable Juggernaut

Disc 2:
The Cure
Come The Apocalypse
Days Of Future Past (Part 1)
Days Of Future Past (Part 2)
The Final Decision
Till Death Do Us Part (Part 1)
Till Death Do Us Part (Part 2)
Whatever It Takes

VOLUME 2 Disc 1:
Red Dawn
Repo Man
X-Ternally Yours
Time Fugitives (Part 1)
Time Fugitives (Part 2)
A Rogue’s Tale
Beauty & The Beast
Mojo Vision

Disc 2:
Reunion (Part 1)
Reunion (Part 2)
Out of the Past (Part 1)
Out of the Past (Part 2)
The Phoenix Saga (Part 1): Sacrifice
The Phoenix Saga (Part 2): The Dark Shroud
The Phoenix Saga (Part 3): Cry of the Banshee
The Phoenix Saga (Part 4): The Starjammers
The Phoenix Saga (Part 5): Child of Light

Street Date: April 28, 2009
Suggested retail price (each): $23.99 US; $29.99 Canadian
Rated: ‘TV-Y7-FV’
Run time: Approximately 368 minutes (V1), 391 minutes (V2)
DVD aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Language: French and Spanish

Aardman Dominates DVD Scene This Week

Although it’s going to be a while until U.S. audiences can catch Nick Park’s BAFTA- and Annie Award-winning special Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, there are four new DVD releases this week which will remind everyone why the Bristol-based studio is so popular worldwide.

First up, fans of
Shaun the Sheep, the Wallace & Gromit spin-off preschool series that first debuted on CBBC in March of 2007 and has been airing on the Disney Channel in the U.S, can get their hands on a new eight-episode sampler titled Shaun the Sheep: Back in the Ba-a-ath, released by Lionsgate and HIT Entertainment. The 51-minute compilation of episodes featuring Shaun, Bitzer the sheepdog and the Naughty Pigs next door, carries a $14.98 price tag (but can also be picked up for $11.95 on In addition to the eight episodes, the release also includes a special Sing-a-long with Shaun bonus feature!

Lionsgate and HIT are also issuing special 20th Anniversary re-releases of Nick Park’s earlier
Wallace & Gromit adventures on DVD today. Up for grabs in brand-spanking new packages are A Grand Day Out (1989) and the Oscar-winning The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995). Each separate DVD can be yours for about $10 or you can order all three on amazon for $29.95. By the way, if you’re dying to see Loaf and Death, you’re not alone. We’ll let you know about U.S. airdate plans or DVD announcements as soon as we hear back from our friends at Aardman.

The week's other animated DVD releases include
Backyardigans: Robin Hood the Clean (Paramount, $16.99), Curious George: Monkey Collection Vol. 1 (Universal, $39.98), Curious George: Robot Monkey (Universal, $16,98), Phineas & Ferb: The Daze of Summer (Disney, $19.99) and Thomas & Friends: Railway Friends (HIT, $14.98).

Recently announced animated releases include
Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic (March 6), Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter (March 24), The Jetsons Season 2 Vol. 1 (June 6), Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Vol. 1 and Saturday Morning Cartoons 1970s Vol. 1 (May 19)

Disney/DreamWorks Deal Done

It’s official: DreamWorks has a new distributor in Disney.

The long-term exclusive deal was announced Monday after much speculation over the weekend after a DreamWorks/Universal deal fell apart, Variety reports.

Under the deal, Disney will distribute six DreamWorks films a year under its Touchstone Pictures banner, starting in 2010. Disney also will provide a loan to DreamWorks, which is raising money to secure additional financing from partners Reliance.

Copernicus, Kavaleer Team for Garth and Bev

Copernicus Studios and Kavaleer Productions will co-produce 52 11-minute episodes of the animated series Garth and Bev.

Copernicus, based in Halifax, Canada, will create the 2D animation based on an idea by Andrew Kavanagh of Dublin-based Kavaleer.

Story is about a brother and sister living in the Bronze Age who travel through time seeking out the true geniuses of all time with their Druid grandfather, Lir.

The series is being distributed by BBC Worldwide and Picture Box in Canada and it will air in September on RTE Ireland and in March 2010 on BBC UK/CBeebies.

Girlish-voiced jazz singer Blossom Dearie dies, 84

Jazz singer, pianist and songwriter Blossom Dearie, who lent her "wispy, little-girlish" voice to several Schoolhouse Rock cartoons, died Saturday at her apartment in New York's Greenwich Village. She was 84.

She died in her sleep of natural causes, manager and representative Donald Schaffer told the New York Times.

Known for her pageboy haircut and chunky glasses, Dearie worked with the likes of Johnny Mercer and Cy Coleman. Her last professional engagement was at the now-defunct Danny's Skylight Room in Midtown Manhattan, where she appeared for over six years until 2006 -- with all shows sold out. Fans from the world of jazz and Broadway regularly came in to see her.

Her distinctive voice was heard in the title tunes of Multiplication Rock's Figure Eight (1973), Grammar Rock's Unpack Your Adjectives (1975) and the America Rock cartoon Mother Necessity (1977).

Blossom Dearie was her real name. She was born Marguerite Blossom Dearie in East Durham, New York on April 29, 1926. Her father was of Scottish and Irish descent; her mother emigrated from Oslo, Norway.

Dearie is said to have been given her unusual first name after a neighbor brought peach blossoms to her house on the day she was born.

She began taking piano lessons when she was five, and studied classical music until she was in her teens, when she played in her high school dance band and began to listen to jazz. Early influences included Art Tatum, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Martha Tilton, who sang with the Benny Goodman band. Dearie graduated from high school in the mid-1940s and moved to New York City to pursue a music career. She joined the Blue Flames, a vocal group within the Woody Herman big band, and then sang with the Blue Reys, a similar formation in the Alvino Rey band.

In 1952, while working at the Chantilly Club in Greenwich Village, Dearie met Nicole Barclay who, with her husband, owned Barclay Records. At her suggestion, she went to Paris and formed a vocal group, the Blue Stars. The group consisted of four male singers/instrumentalists, and four female singers; Dearie contributed many of the arrangements. They had a hit in France and the United States with one of their first recordings, a French version of "Lullaby Of Birdland." While in Paris, Dearie met impresario and record producer Norman Granz, who signed her to Verve Records, for whom she eventually made six solo albums, including the highly regarded My Gentleman Friend.

Unable to take the Blue Stars to the United States because of passport problems (they later evolved into the Swingle Singers), she returned to New York and resumed her solo career, singing to her own piano accompaniment at such New York nightclubs as the Versailles, the Blue Angel and the Village Vanguard. She also appeared on U.S. television with Jack Paar, Merv Griffin and Johnny Carson. In 1966, she made the first of what were to become annual appearances at Ronnie Scott's Club in London, receiving excellent reviews as "a singer's singer," whose most important asset was her power to bring a personal interpretation to a song, while showing the utmost respect for a composer's intentions.

In the 1960s, she also made some albums for Capitol Records, including May I Come In?, a set of standards arranged and conducted by Jack Marshall.

In the early 1970s, disillusioned by the major record companies' lack of interest in her kind of music, she started her own company, Daffodil Records, in 1974. Her first album for the label, Blossom Dearie Sings, was followed by a two-record set entitled My New Celebrity Is You, which contained eight of her own compositions. The album's title song was especially written for her by Johnny Mercer, and is said to be the last piece he wrote before his death in 1976.

During the '70s, Dearie performed at Carnegie Hall with former Count Basie blues singer Joe Williams and jazz vocalist Anita O'Day in a show called The Jazz Singers. In 1981, she appeared with Dave Frishberg for three weeks at Michael's Pub in Manhattan. Frishberg, besides being a songwriter, also sang and played the piano, and Dearie frequently performed his songs, such as "Peel Me A Grape," "I'm Hip" and "My Attorney Bernie." Her own compositions included "I Like You, You're Nice", "I'm Shadowing You" and "Hey John."

From 1983, she performed regularly for six months a year at the Ballroom, a nightclub in Manhattan, and in 1985 was the first recipient of the Mabel Mercer Foundation Award, which is presented annually to an outstanding supper-club performer.

She appeared several times in London in the late 1980s and early 1990s at the Pizza On The Park.

Dearie's last recording was a single, "It's All Right to Be Afraid," a comforting ballad dedicated to 9/11's victims and survivors.

"The high-pitched and sweet child's voice with which she's always sung and that can't really be categorized by standard vocal measurements does not age," David Finkle wrote in Back Stage. "When she skips merrily through her repertoire, she sounds exactly as she has for close to 50 years."

While living in Paris, she met Belgian flutist and saxophonist Bobby Jaspar, to whom she was briefly married.

Blossom Dearie is survived by an older brother, Barney, and by a nephew and niece.

“Incredibles” sequel is stalled until Bird can get “1906” off the ground

Jim Hill shares what he knows about Brad Bird’s upcoming projects. Including this Academy Award-winner’s struggles to get his live-action epic about the Great San Francisco Earthquake greenlit

Well, “Toy Story 3” is definitely on its way (This eagerly awaited sequel will roll into theaters on June 10, 2010). As is “Cars 2” (The Studio recently moved up its release date to June 24, 2011). But based on the questions that Pete Docter kept fielding at Saturday’s “Up” panel at New York Comic-Con, what the fanboys really want to know is when is “The Incredibles” sequel showing up?

Mind you, the “Monsters, Inc.” director did have a bit of good news for the crowd in the IGN Theater. And I quote:

“Brad’s talked about it. He has some ideas.”

Which Bird himself referred to in a 2007 interview with the Associated Press. When – while he was out doing press for “Ratatouille” – this fanboy favorite was quoted as saying:

“I love the world (of “The Incredibles”). I love the characters. And if I could come with a story that was as good or better than the original, I’d go there in a second. I have pieces of things that I would love to see in (an “Incredibles”) sequel. But I haven’t got them all together yet.”

Brad Bird stands in front of a display of "Ratatouille" artwork
Copyright 2007 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved

Which is really great to hear. Except that Brad Bird’s not going to have the opportunity to play with any of those “Incredibles”
pieces until he finishes helming his first live-action feature, “1906.”

Based on James Dalessandro’s 2004 best seller, “1906”
is nothing if not ambitious. It’s this romantic mystery set in and around San Francisco just prior to the earthquake & fire that basically flattened Baghdad-by-the-Bay back in 1906. And – yes – Brad wants to recreate all of that carnage as part of his big screen epic.

The only problem is … A movie of this size & scale is going to be hugely expensive. Which is why Warner Bros. and Disney / Pixar are teaming up to co-produce
“1906.” Which means that – instead of having to please just one studio head (i.e. John Lasseter at Pixar Animation Studios) – Bird (who is not only directing “1906” but also rewriting the screenplay that Dalessandro himself wrote for this project) has to make three separate sets of Suits happy before production can then begin on his film. This is why – even though Brad originally signed his “1906” contract back in March of last year – this project still doesn’t have a start date.

Mind you, back in the Spring of last year, it really did look like
“1906” was a go project. Which is why Warner Bros. put a hold on all of the soundstages that were available on its Burbank lot. Figuring that they’d need virtually every resource that this Studio had at its disposal in order to make this mammoth motion picture happen.

Some of the devastation that San Francisco experienced in
the wake of the Great Earthquake of 1906

But then execs at WB & Disney reportedly became concerned about the scope & ambition of Bird’s screenplay. Which attempted to touch on virtually every aspect of what made San Francisco so fascinating during this era in the city’s history. Chinatown. The Barbary Coast. Nob Hill. Even the city’s transition from horses to horseless carriages.

It was just a bit too much for the Suits. Brad’s expansive storytelling. Not to mention the projected cost of this production. And while the folks at Warners Bros. and Disney / Pixar clearly saw
‘s enormous box office potential (Virtually every Studio official that I spoke with while researching today’s story had the exact same thing to say. That – if Brad can actually deliver the goods here, deliver a truly romantic disaster film – this could be “Titanic” all over again. The sort of movie that makes billions of dollars worldwide) ... But given that Bird had never directed a live-action film before. Never mind a motion picture of this size … Even with three separate companies coming together to shoulder “1906” ‘s projected $200-million-plus price tag, the financial risks involved here were deemed to be too high. Which is why – late last Spring -- Warner Bros. quietly released that hold it had on all its Burbank soundstages and then allegedly asked Brad to rework his screenplay. Both as a way to reduce this picture’s projected production costs as well as narrow the focus of the story that he was trying to tell.

Interesting side note here: When
“1906” relinquished its hold on all of Warner Bros. soundstages, for a brief time last summer, the production team behind yet another epic disaster movie with a number for a title – “2012” – expressed an interest in filling all those vacancies on the Burbank backlot. But then – what with the looming Screen Actors Guild strike (which – at that time – was threatening to get underway in July of 2008) -- Roland Emmerich decided it best to get out of LA. Which is why the director of “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow” took “2012” up to Vancouver instead.

Copyright 2008 Sony Pictures

Getting back to “1906”
now … Since his start date slipped back in the late Spring of 2008, Bird has been hard at work revamping & refocusing his screenplay for this project. But as Brad said to a reporter with Latino Review late last week at the premiere of “Coraline” :

“It’s (been) a really hard script to write … Mostly because there are so many interesting things going on in that place and that particular period of time that -- anytime you're going towards something -- you're going away from 5 other cool things.”

But that said, “1906” is still moving forward. As part of last week’s chat on the red carpet, Bird went on to say:

“We’re looking at places to shoot it … We’ll see if they have the courage to make (it).”

And by “they,” Brad means the executives who put the brakes on “1906”
back last Spring. Those very same folks who would love to be associated with a “Titanic” -sized blockbuster but just can’t stomach this romantic epic’s $200-million-plus price tag.

So Bird continues to whittle away at his screenplay. Knowing fully well that – with each day that passes – the heat that Brad enjoyed last year due to
“Ratatouille” ‘s Academy Award win continues to dissipate. And then when you factor in the worsening economy along with Hollywood’s extremely short memory … Well, that just makes it less & less likely that Warner Bros. and Disney / Pixar will actually greenlight a pricey production like “1906” anytime soon.

Mind you, were Brad able to persuade a few names to appear in his first-ever live-action feature … Well, the Suits might then allow a slimmed-down version of
“1906” to begin production sometime later this year. And if what Bird said last week while talking with the Latino Review actually proves to be true (i.e. “There are some wonderful people who are interested [in “1906”]. And I hope they're still interested when I finish the script”) … Some serious star power would go a long way to calming those jangled nerves in the executive suite.

But for now, the only names (other than Brad’s, of course) that are associated with this project are Paula Weinstein and John Walker. Who are producing & executive producing
“1906” respectively. Plus – of course -- “WALL*E” director Andrew Stanton and Pixar Big Kahuna John Lasseter. Who – as Bird explained:

“I had some questions about
(the script for ‘1906’) and (Andrew) and John Lasseter gave me some feedback on that.”

But even with all of these production-related problems, Brad still has high hopes for
Which – as he explained in a 2008 interview with /Film – would (to Bird’s way of thinking, anyway) seem to be this can’t-miss setting for a major motion picture.

“At (that) time, Chinatown was coexisting with the Barbary Coast, which was like the Wild Wild West, and at the same time Nob Hill had the upper class. It was a time between two centuries. You had horses and cars existing simultaneously. It’s just a volatile mix of things and then you throw in an earthquake. I mean, come on, if that doesn’t buy popcorn …”

If all goes according to plan and executives at Warner Bros and Disney / Pixar finally do sign off on the next rewrite of Bird’s
“1906” screenplay, production of this live-action epic could get underway as soon as late this year / early in 2010. Which means that we could all be watching San Francisco shake itself to pieces by 2011.

Copyright 2004 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved

And once that project is in the can … Well, maybe then Brad can get started on sorting out all those loose pieces. Put together an
sequel. But for now, the guy’s still struggling to come up with a “1906” screenplay that the Suits can all get behind.

So wish Brad Bird luck, folks. Because today’s Hollywood likes safe, pre-sold properties like the Smurfs, Yogi Bear and Tom & Jerry. Even Walt Disney Pictures’ big release for next month –
“Race to Witch Mountain” -- falls into this same category. That sort of movie where the Studio isn’t forced to waste any of its marketing money on trying to explain what this picture is actually about. That sort of film where the audience walks into the theater already knowing what they’re going to see.

Which (you’d think) would work in
“1906” ‘s favor. After all, this would be the big screen version of a best-selling book. A romantic movie mystery set in and around one of America’s greatest tragedies.

The only problem is … The market research that Warner Bros. and Disney officials have done to date suggest that the 15-to-25-year-olds that the Studios will be heavily relying on to come out and support this $200-million-plus co-production reportedly have little or no knowledge of the Great San Francisco Earthquake. That – to be blunt – this historic tragedy just doesn’t have that same sort of resonance / name recognition with young adults that the sinking of the Titanic enjoys.

Which again explains why
“1906” still doesn’t have a start date. Disregarding Brad Bird’s obvious skills as a filmmaker … What’s the point of making a cinematic epic (especially in this economy) if you’re not entirely sure that there’s actually an audience out there that will come out & support this type of picture? Especially one that’s projected to cost as much as “1906”

New Two-Part Episode Debuts on "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" on Feb. 13, 2009

Lucasfilm has released details about the next double-feature episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, debuting on Friday, February 13, 2009. The two episodes, "Blue Shadow Virus" and "Mystery of a Thousand Moons," introduce the evil Dr. Nuvo Vindi (voiced by Michael York), who exposes Anakin Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi to a bio-engineered virus that will kill them in 48 hours unless they can find an antidote.

"Blue Shadow Virus" and "Mystery of a Thousand Moons" will debut starting at 9:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on Cartoon Network.
The full release from Lucasfilm follows:

The evil Dr. Nuvo Vindi plans to unleash unparalleled destruction on the galaxy in “Blue Shadow Virus,” an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Feb. 13, on Cartoon Network.

(Click to enlarge)

The heroes of the Republic must deal with an altogether different kind of enemy when they face an evil and diabolical mad scientist in “Blue Shadow Virus” and “Mystery of A Thousand Moons,” a special double feature of the hit animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, premiering as an all-new, two-part episode on 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Feb. 13, on Cartoon Network.

In “Blue Shadow Virus,” Padmé Amidala is captured while searching for a secret Separatist bio-weapons lab run by Dr. Nuvo Vindi (portrayed by science-fiction icon Michael York), a scientist as cold and calculating as he is evil. While they manage to find the mad doctor and uncover his scheme, they are too late to prevent the release of his deadly concoction – leaving Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi just 48 hours to find the elusive antidote in “Mystery of a Thousand Moons.”

Best known for his role in 1975’s Logan’s Run, York brings a sense of manic enthusiasm and righteous fervor to the role of Dr. Vindi.

Vindi’s plan for galactic cleansing provides an unusual mission for the heroes of the Clone Wars, pitting them against an unseen threat that cannot necessarily be conquered through direct aggression. According “Blue Shadow Virus” director Giancarlo Volpe, this provides an opportunity to see how the characters respond to a new kind of pressure.

“This episode is really about refortifying the Anakin-Padmé dynamic,” Volpe says. “She is his universe and so he’ll compromise the mission to make sure her safety comes first. It’s not what a Jedi is supposed to do, but that’s Anakin.”

Once Padmé, Ahsoka and the clones become infected, however, the stakes are raised, leaving Anakin and Obi-Wan to sort out a solution in “Mystery of a Thousand Moons,” according to director Jesse Yeh. Their quest for the cure serves as a perfect vehicle to spotlight the relationship between the two Jedi, emphasizing their differences as well as their respect for one another.

“Obi-Wan and Anakin do things so differently, yet they rely on each other so much that they would trust each other with their own lives,” Yeh says. “Obi-Wan is more than just a mentor trying to teach Anakin the path of a Jedi Master. When needed, he can also be an understanding friend of Anakin and stand by his decisions as well – even if sometimes those decisions could mean a violation of the Jedi teachings.

New Up poster goes…up!

The Trailer Addict site gives us a look at the new poster for Disney/Pixar’s Up, which develops what was shown in the initial teaser. Up will float onto screens May 29, 2009.

Lost And Found completed by Studio Aka

London’s Studio Aka has announced completion of their 25-minute animated film adaptation of Oliver Jeffers’ award winning children’s book Lost And Found. A co-production between Studio Aka and Contender Entertainment Group, Lost And Found was adapted and directed by the studio’s Philip Hunt, with narration by Jim Broadbent, soon to be seen in this summer’s Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. The film, which was scored by composer Max Richter (Waltz With Bashir), has already played on television in the UK, but a trailer and images can be seen at this official site. Lost And Found, is set for DVD release in the UK on March 3.

The State of DreamWorks Animation

The NY Times published a lengthy piece last week about how DreamWorks Animation is performing financially. None too shabby is the Times’ verdict. “This company is a flower that is just beginning to blossom,” Katzenberg tells the paper. The studio’s features are obviously popular—their last four have outgrossed Pixar’s efforts—and they’re aggressively expanding with two TV series on Nick, theme parks in Dubai and Singapore, and the Shrek Broadway musical (which has flopped, according to the article). My opinion of the company’s output hasn’t changed, but their success can’t be denied. Katzenberg has clearly found a way to generate short-term profits by tapping into the audience’s desire for celebrities, crude humor, and pop culture-fueled entertainment. At what cost though? In my opinion, Katzenberg has sacrificed long-term cultural relevance (and profits) by ignoring the need for honest storytelling, meaningful artistry, and offering a unique point of view in his films.

(Thanks, Celia Bullwinkel, for the link)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Harvey Comic Art at MoCCA

The Harvey Comics art exhibit, From Richie Rich to Wendy which began it’s tour last summer in San Francisco, is now in New York City at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. The exhibit will run through April 18th and is well worth a visit. The Villager just published a story (which quotes yours truly) about Harvey and the art show in this week’s edition. MoCCA is located at 594 Broadway at Houston St., in suite #401. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday, 12 noon through 5pm. “That sounds logical!”

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

New ‘Watchmen’ TV Spots Coming To A Commercial Break Near You!

If you’re like us here at Splash Page HQ, when it comes to director Zack Snyder’s highly-anticipated take on “Watchmen” there’s no such thing as “too much.” After offering up video clips, movie posters and viral sites from and based on the flick, this morning we’re treated to not one, but two all new TV trailers!

Check out the first one below starring everyone’s favorite giant, glowing, nekkid Smurf of Mass Destruction, Dr. Manhattan:

And here's the other trailer, fresh from the boob-tube!

Just in case you need a refresher (as we shake our heads disapprovingly), “Watchmen” stars Jackie Earle Haley (as Rorschach), Matthew Goode (Ozymandias), Billy Crudup (Dr. Manhattan), Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre II), Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian). The story follows a group of unwillingly-retired superheroes who regroup after one of their own is murdered, and in turn set off to find the culprit. However, what they uncover in their investigation proves to be far more earth-shattering than what they’d signed on for.

“Watchmen” hits multiplexes and IMAX on March 6, 2009.

Keri Russell spent two hours grunting to voice Wonder Woman

Keri Russell, who voices the title character in the upcoming animated Wonder Woman DVD movie, told SCI FI Wire that the film marked her first venture into voice work and that playing Diana/Wonder Woman fulfilled a childhood ambition.

Russell is part of a voice cast that includes Nathan Fillion as Col. Steve Trevor, Alfred Molina as Ares, Rosario Dawson as Artemis and Virginia Madsen as Hippolyta. The movie was produced by DC animation legend Bruce Timm. SCI FI Wire spoke with Russell about Wonder Woman when she was promoting Bedtime Stories. Following are edited excerpts from that exclusive interview. The Wonder Woman DVD movie drops on March 3.

How did you enjoy doing a voice-over for the Wonder Woman DVD?

I'd never done that before, and it was so fun. I was completely obsessed with Wonder Woman when I was a kid. I have great photos. I think I must have been 4, in my mom's homemade Wonder Woman outfit on Halloween. Yes, I am Wonder Woman. I'm living my dream.

And what was it like to do a voice?

I haven't seen the full thing, but I did go in and [do her voice and also] do all the grunts and the screams and the kicks. By the way, in Wonder Woman, just the kicks and grunts and punches: two hours.

Was it you alone, or did you get to interact with any of the other voice talent?

Just alone in a dark studio, kicking and grunting at the top of your lungs. It's very weird.

Was that all some sort of audition to play Wonder Woman in the proposed live-action movie?

Ooh, I don't think so. People have been asking me about that. I don't know anything about that. So I'm sure that won't involve me.

But if they asked you, would you be interested?

I like to read everything, but who knows? We'll see.

3 animated shorts nominated for Canada's Genies

"The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow," by Rodrigo Gudiño, Vincent Marcone and Marco Pecota of Someone At The Door Productions, and two National Film Board of Canada releases were announced Tuesday as Best Animated Short nominees for the Genie Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars.

Also up in the Best Animated Short category are NFB releases
Drux Flux, by Theodore Ushev and Marc Bertrand, and Sleeping Betty, by Claude Cloutier and Marcel Jean.

Nominees for the 29th Annual Genie Awards were announced by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

Leading the nominations are
Ce qu'il faut pour vivre/The Necessities of Life with eight nominations and Tout est Parfait/Everything is Fine with seven. Those nominees are followed closely by Passchendaele, Fugitive Pieces, Amal and Maman est chez le coiffeur/Mommy is at the Hairdressers
, each with six.

The 2009 Genie Awards will take place Saturday, April 4 at the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa, and will be broadcast on Global Television.

"Canada's passion for provocative and insightful cinema resonates through many of this year's nominees," said Sara Morton, CEO of the ACCT. "With the Genie Awards taking place in Ottawa for the first time, I think it's particularly appropriate that we have such a strong field of both French and English films."

Tons more on Coraline: character designs, podcast and more

As promotions for director Henry Selick’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline continue, the Character Design page has an interview with artist Damon Bard, while the W+K agency doing all that promoting has a number of interesting posts up on their blog, including photos from the Portland premiere, a fascinating Coraline campaign video, marketing materials and an archived interview with Selick. You’ll need to scroll down past the recent entries (our congratulations on the new Kleiner!) for the unique insights.

Rocket Jo is coming!

Writer-director Julien Charles has revealed details on his new animated series Rocket Jo, being produced in Paris by Millimages and 2d3danimations. Exploring the difficulties the title character and the jetpack he made himself (half the problem right there!) have getting off the ground, each of the 52 one-minute episodes will present a new flying test. “This series tries to put the focus on storytelling and animation with just one character, no speaking, and just a blue gradient for the set”, says Charles. Rocket Jo will debut on the French TV channel France 3 later in 2009, while a production blog is keeping tabs on its progress.

Paul And The Dragon completed in Holland

Paco Vink, who together with Albert ’t Hooft founded the animation studio AniKey in Holland, has announced that the company has recently finished the 25 minute traditionally animated film Paultje en de Draak (Paul And The Dragon). Intended for children aged 5-13 years old who are suffering with cancer, the film, which is based on the life of a real boy, Paul Sanders, who had cancer at the age of ten and survived, aims to help both the children and their parents as they battle the disease. Uniquely Paul And The Dragon, which will be distributed throughout hospitals in Holland on the 15th of February (International Childhood Cancer Day), has no spoken dialogue, which AniKey hope will be a big plus in being able to spread Paul And The Dragon’s message internationally. The film’s combination Dutch-English language website presents an online trailer and more on the making of the film.

The Ranft Bros. in Coraline

I mentioned in an earlier post that there is a nod to the late great Disney/Pixar storyman Joe Ranft (Lion King, Toy Story, Roger Rabbit, Cars, etc.) in Coraline. Thanks to the fine folks at Laika Entertainment, we can show you that acknowledgement. The moving men who help the Jones family move into their new home are The Ranft Brothers, and the puppets are caricatures of real-life brothers and animation artists Joe and Jerome Ranft (Jerome, a sculptor at Pixar, provides the duo’s vocals). Joe Ranft worked with Henry Selick on both The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and The Giant Peach and was a valued member of the Pixar family. Selick’s tribute is a beautiful, fitting salute to a colleague and a friend.

Click on thumbnails below for large images.

(Thanks, Fumi Kitahara and Jade Alex)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Bay Talks Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Frosty over at Collider alerted us that he caught up with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen director Michael Bay over at the Friday the 13th premiere last night.

Bay talks about whether or not he will he make a third movie, filming on the Pyramids, filming three scenes in IMAX, how this film is a lot darker and what fans can expect in the sequel.

It’s a pretty crazy interview.

You can watch the interview below!

The film hits theaters on June 26, 2009.

No plot details yet only that Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots return for the live-action follow up to Michael Bay's 2007 blockbuster "Transformers."

Reminder: The New Transformers Trailer this Friday

Fans of Michael Bay's Transformers might want to get out to theaters this weekend to see the relaunch of Friday the 13th, produced by Bay's production company Platinum Dunes, since Paramount has confirmed to Hype! what Bay posted on his blog last month here, that the first teaser trailer for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will be attached to it.

The teaser trailer will be available online starting Monday, February 16, so stay tuned!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is scheduled to open in conventional and IMAX theaters on Friday, June 26.

Casting Rumor Mill Up And Running For The Flash

Thinkmcflythink has a good rumor on a possible candidate for The Flash, one of many Warner Brothers super heroes movies fans are waiting to see:

We've received word from a very-reliable source that actor Scott Porter (formerly of the critically-acclaimed television-series Friday Night Lights) is one of those actors.

If you'll remember back in the Fall of 2007, Porter auditioned for director George Miller for his (now dead) Justice League: Mortal and was said to be a top candidate for Superman.

Click HERE to read the rest of the article.

Coraline Premiere After Party Set Pictures!

Last week Latino Review's 'El Guapo' attended the premiere for Coraline, the fantastic 3-D stop motion animated feature from Laika Studios in Portland, Oregon. He had visited the set a year ago but wasn't allowed to take any pictures of the sets themselves.

After the premier, the after party (that was held at the Portland Art Museum) was enormous, with all kinds of food, wine and celebs, including Neil Gaiman, director Henry Selick and Teri Hatcher.

One of the cool things the studio did was set up most of the sets from the film around the party room, including the actual work stations and props used in making the movie. So I did what any normal online movie nerd would do: I snapped as many pictures as I possibly could! It's amazing the amount of detail in these sets and the hard work these people put into the film.

Sorry I posted this up so late. I've been busy running around Portland playing GORF at their Ground Kontrol 80's arcade. But I didn't want you guys to miss out on these really set pics so here ya go! First picture is of me at the premiere from my iPhone and the rest are from the after party with a regular digital camera. Sorry, no nude pics of Teri Hatcher. I'm keeping those for blackmail.