Friday, February 13, 2009

News - 02/13/09...

Dear Anna Olson

Dedicated independent animators will do - and should do - anything they can to complete their films. Case in point: East coast animator Dean Kalman Lennert has been working on a personal film for over ten years between professional jobs on Doug, Beavis & Butt-Head, TV Funhouse, and Ice Age. Inspired by a note he found tied to a balloon, Dear Anna Olson is hand drawn, fully animated and entirely dependent on donations for completion. In an effort to raise the funds to finish the last 30% of the project, Lennert is doing everything he can think of, including making this recent appearance on local TV (“Better Connecticut”, WFSB, Channel 3 in Hartford) to make his case:

For more information on Lennert’s film, or to make a donation, go to

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Here's a teaser for the film followed by some excerpts:

New ‘Astro Boy’ Images Get Wide Release

Last week, we brought you some new images from “Astro Boy,” Summit Entertainment’s CGI-animated feature based on the popular anime/manga character. Today, Summit released a few more images from “Astro Boy,” and even though some of them have been seen around the ‘Net already, we thought we’d post some of the lesser-publicized images here, just in case you missed one or two of ‘em.

Here’s one of our favorites, featuring what looks to be one of the big robo-baddies Astro Boy goes up against in the movie:

Below, check out more of the “Astro Boy” images that were released wide today.

Transformers Moved Up Two Days

Paramount Pictures has moved up the release date for director Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in conventional and IMAX theaters two days to June 24th.

The sequel stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Benjamin Hickey, Ramon Rodriguez, Isabel Lucas and John Turturro.

EXCLUSIVE: No ‘Iron Man 2’ Script Yet For Gwyneth Paltrow

Remember the days when “Iron Man 2″ news was popping up all over the ‘Net and actors were being cast and, in some cases, dropping out of the cast faster than you could say “Pepper Potts?” Yeah, those were good times. But now it feels like those days are behind us, as we haven’t heard anything new from the “Iron Man 2″ crew in quite a while — and we’re not the only ones.

MTV News caught up with Gwyneth Paltrow at the red carpet premiere of her new film “Two Lovers” and asked the talented “Iron Man” actress if she’s felt the same void when it comes to “Iron Man 2″ news.

“They haven’t even given me a script yet,” Paltrow told MTV News. “They don’t tell me anything. I could be, like, a costume assistant in it. I know nothing.”

While it’s not surprising that Paltrow hasn’t been brought into the mix at such an early stage, there’s still no shortage of questions surrounding the next “Iron Man” film — namely, who’s in it and what parts are they playing?

As far as new additions to the cast, we know Sam Rockwell is playing Justin Hammer, and Don Cheadle is replacing Terrence Howard as James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Ever since Robert Downey Jr. said Mickey Rourke wasn’t playing Crimson Dynamo, that aspect of casting has been fairly unknown. And last we heard from Samuel L. Jackson, he didn’t seem to certain he’d return as Nick Fury. We’re assuming Paltrow will be back as Pepper Potts, but the on-and-off casting of potential love interest Emily Blunt as The Black Widow has us wondering what dynamic Paltrow and Downey’s characters will have in the eagerly anticipated sequel.

“I have no idea what it is,” said Paltrow of the relationship Potts will have with Tony Stark in the film. “Jon Favreau said it would be good, so I believe him.”

Fox shows will feature three minutes of sneak peeks at the new Wolverine

Twentieth Century Fox announced that it will unveil three new 60-second ads for X-Men Origins: Wolverine over consecutive nights during airings of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s prime-time programming, starting this weekend.

The three commercials will combine to make one full sneak-peek narrative for the movie, which brings back Hugh Jackman as the title X-Man.

The first spot airs Sunday during Family Guy, the second on Monday in House and the third on Tuesday during American Idol.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the first chapter in the X-Men saga, unites Wolverine with several other legends of the X-Men universe and also stars Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Dominic Monaghan and Ryan Reynolds, as well as Taylor Kitsch, and Lynn Collins. Gavin Hood directs the movie, which opens May 1.

Disney dubs a Chinese hit—but will The Secret of the Magic Gourd translate?

Disney goes Chinese for the first time, by taking a successful movie made overseas in 2007 called Bao hu lu de mi mi and overdubbing it and renaming it The Secret of the Magic Gourd.

Too bad that with all the CG technology and imaginative gimmickry that this movie contains, the Disney techies can't sync up the dubbing and the mouth movements any better, so it still comes across as watching a kid moving his lips for a long time and then hearing "Gamera! Gamera!" come out, just like in the old days.

Nevertheless, popping open this DVD during a sleepover with five 6-and-7-year-old boys was the truest test of the magic of this movie. They loved it. They loved the exciting rocket-ship-rescue dream-sequence opening. They loved the fat green frog sidekick who doesn't really have much to do in the film. They loved the 11-year-old boy star of the movie, Raymond, played by Peisi Chen and overdubbed by Drake Johnston (no, you don't know either of them).

And, most of all, they loved the obnoxious talking yellow gourd that they ultimately wanted to make effigies of and pummel around the living room.

Raymond has a close group of friends at school, but he's known for being a bit lazy with his studies. (This is where a Communist civics lesson comes in, because ultimately Raymond's "group" is all penalized for Raymond's poor study habits.) Raymond's wise grandmother tells his little sister the legend of a magic gourd that grants wishes to little kids who need them. Just after Raymond dismisses the legend and goes fishing, he snags the magical gourd himself and discovers he can get whatever he wants.

The trouble is, just like any well-meaning genie, this one tries a little bit too hard and makes Raymond's life miserable. He wishes for help on his test at school and then gets accused of cheating. He wishes for all the toys in the world, and suddenly they all appear in his room. The gourd seems a bit too enthusiastic to please his master. The English voice-over of the magic gourd character is recognizable as the mop-haired Chad from the High School Musical movies, but my first-grader audience didn't make the connection.

The animation is beautiful, and early on there's a stunning sequence where the gourd makes beautiful big fish fly around Raymond as if he's in his own aquarium.

There are some cute bloopers among the extras, especially when the boy keeps threatening to split the gourd in two or smash it. The gourd is ultimately one of those cartoon characters you love to hate. And unfortunately, in the Games & Activities section of the bonus features, there's only a lame matching game rather than a gourd-smashing contest or something more fun.

Perhaps this won't be a crowd-pleaser for girls, or for anyone older than 10, but for a sleepover of first-grade boys, it's an action-packed and charming sure-fire hit.

Jetix Europe Gets New CEO

Paul Taylor has exited and John Hardie has entered as Jetix Europe's new chief executive officer, according to multiple news sources.

Variety reports that Hardie will retain his job as exec VP and managing director of the Disney channels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and take over the new job immediately. Disney announced in December that it will up its stake in Jetix from 75 to 100 percent.

Disney bought its share in Jetix when it purchased Fox Family Worldwide from News Corp in 2001. Jetix began a stock buyback program in January that will eventually delist it from the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange later in February.

"Paul has done an exemplary job in his four years as CEO and we wish him the very best in future endeavors," said Andy Bird, chairman of the supervisory board of Jetix Europe, to C21 MEDIA.

Animation Block Party Goes Online, Expands to Boston

Animation Block Party is building up to its annual summer festival in Brooklyn with a new series on new media platform and a show planned for the Boston area March 27-29.

Submissions are now open for the 2009 festival, which will be held July 24-26 at Rooftop Films and Bam Cinematek in Brooklyn. Early submissions are due March 6, standard submissions on April 17, and late entries on May 29.

The festival is now showing shorts Lotion’s Eleven, Chef Barry: Crunchy Toast Sushi and Taste of Animation Block Party on My Damn Channel. The series will run for 16 consecutive Mondays, showcasing projects from festival alumni such as Chelsea Manifold, Steve Stark, Chet Knebel, Will White and Hubert Chan. Other animated projects from Animation Block's production arm include MTV's Perfectland and Sundance Channel's Breakfast. ABP's founder and creator, Casey Safron, leads the production wing, overseeing all cartoons produced under the Animation Block banner.

The Boston-area event is a pair of midnight screenings of Animation Block Party shorts at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline. For more info, visit

Brolin, Malkovich to Face Off in Jonah Hex

Josh Brolin and John Malkovich have been confirmed as headlining Jonah Hex, an adaptation of the popular DC Comics Western series, Variety reports.

Brolin, nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in Milk, has long been rumored for the lead role, a grotesquely scarred gunslinger. Malkovich will play Turnbull, a Southern plantation owner who blames Hex for the death of his son in the Civil War.

Film is being directed by Johnny Hayward (Horton Hears A Who!), and is a Warner Bros.-Legendary Pictures production.

Nickelodeon Kids' Premieres on "Filthy Friday," February 27, 2009

Nickelodeon has announced a "Filthy Friday" Playdate for February 27, 2009, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific), showcasting cartoons featuring filth fighting fun, including three premieres of The Backyardigans ("Robin Hood the Clean"), Olivia ("Olivia Paints a Mural/Olivia's Day at the Office"), and Yo Gabba Gabba! (Guest Stars: Rachel Dratch, Chromeo, Biz Markie).

"Johnny Bravo" Valentine's Day Marathon on Boomerang on February 14, 2009

Boomerang will be hosting a Johnny Bravo Valentine's Day Marathon on Saturday, February 14, 2009, from 2:00 - 8:30 PM (Eastern). The episodes will showcase Johnny Bravo's biggest dating snafus and foul-ups, culminating on the network debut of the special It's Valentine's Day, Johnny Bravo, at 8:00 PM.

"Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy!" Coming to DVD and Blu-ray

According to Amazon, Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy! (Uncensored), a series of short (typically a minute long) animated sketches starring various characters drawn in Family Guy style, is coming to DVD and Blu-ray on 4/21/09. Its prices are listed as $22.99 for the DVD version and $24.99 for Blu-ray. It runs 54 minutes. Special features aren't yet listed.

"Once Upon a Time" TV series producer Barille dies

Albert Barillé, director and frequent writer of France's various "Once Upon a Time" kids' science cartoon series, died Wednesday in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. He was 88.

Known in French as Il Etait Une Fois..., the widely popular Procidis series covered man (1978), space (1982), life (1987), the Americas (1991), discoverers (1994), explorers (1996) and our earth (2009).

Each series traced history through 26 episodes. Typically, they featured Mestro, a wise old man with a beard reaching the ground, as well as several heroes and villains, who appeared in various epochs.

Born in 1920 or 1921, Barillé provided the lyrics to Michel Legrand's music for "Hymne à la vie," the theme song of Il Etait Une Fois... La Vie (Once Upon a Time... Life).

He produced the 1973 cartoon series Les Aventures de Colargol, known in Britain as Barnaby and Canada as Jeremy the Bear. As well, he wrote the subsequent 1974 movie La tour du monde de Colargol.

Barillé produced, directed and wrote the 1983 animated feature film
La revanche des humanoids (Revenge of the Humanoids). Also a Procidis release, it was based on the previous year's TV series Il Etait Une Fois... L'Espace (Once Upon a Time... Space)

Irish animation wins Golden Bear at Berlin fest

Irish director David O'Reilly's 10-minute animation "Please Say Something" was announced Wednesday as the winner of the Golden Bear for best short film at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Set in the distant future, Please Say Something tells of the difficult relationship between a very emotional cat and her husband, a staid mouse.

International jury members praised the tale as "a film which gave us lots of emotion, sensitivity and much to think about. A very humane story. With characters who made us laugh and feel sad at the same time."

The Silver Bear was given to British director Daniel Elliott's Jade, a drama about a pregnant girl trying to decide what to do.

Cuban filmmaker Susana Barriga's The Illusion, a video diary about a woman trying to reunite with her father, won the DAAD Short Film Prize. The jury chose Die Leiden des Herrn Karpf. Der Geburstag (The Suffering of Mr. Karpf. The Birthday), by Germany's Lola Randl, as the Berlinale short film nominee for this year's European Film Awards.

Special mentions went to VU, by Leila Albayaty of Belgium, and contre-jour, by Christoph Girardet and Matthias Mueller of Germany.

Winners in feature film categories of the 59th Berlinale will be announced Saturday.

Scene from David O'Reilly's Please Say Something, winner of the Berlin International Film Festival's Golden Bear for best short film.

Design with a Purpose~ Ralph Eggleston

Disney•Pixar's WALL-E was theatrically released on June 27, 2008 and went on to become last year's top grossing animated feature film. Recently, it was nominated for six Academy Awards® including Best Original Screenplay and Best Animated Feature Film of the Year.

BCDB friend and contributor Ron Barbagallo takes a long look at the art of this film through theyes and words of production designer Ralph Eggleston. Exploring production design from many creative angles, Eggleston takes a detailed look at how he uses color to tell a story or to evoke a certain emotion. Conceptual art done by hand and digitally accompany our conversation to illustrate each facet of the film's design decisions.

The article is titled Design with a Purpose, and is live on Ron's site now.

Nickelodeon gets four nods for ethnic diversity

Nickelodeon received four nominations for the 2009 NAMIC Vision Awards, which honor achievements in TV programming diversity, the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications announced Wednesday.

The network had a near sweep in the Children's category, with nominations going to Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, Go, Diego, Go and Dora The Explorer, and a nod in the Animation category for the El Tigre episode The Grave Escape.

Also nominated in the Animation category were the Disney Channel series
Handy Manny and Soy Mono: Words
, a series of vignettes on MTV TR3S.

BET led the 35 nominated networks with six nominations for the entertainment industry award.

The 15th Anniversary NAMIC Vision Awards will be presented at a luncheon ceremony hosted by Access Hollywood's Shaun Robinson. Scheduled for Friday, April 17 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, the NAMIC Vision Awards are held annually in conjunction with the NAMIC-Southern California West Coast Creative Summit.

This year's competition marks the expansion of the awards program, with eligibility extended to national broadcast networks, local affiliates, local origination programs from cable operators, and VOD content produced for digital platforms. A total of 248 entries were received in the 16 award categories.

The NAMIC Creative Summits are the trade organization's signature, day-long educational forums focused on creating, delivering and marketing content across multiple platforms for the multi-ethnic consumer.

SIGGRAPH Reels in Real-Time Rendering Content

Gaming enthusiasts have yet another reason to attend this year’s hot SIGGRAPH confab, scheduled to take place August 3-7 in New Orleans. As part of the event’s expanded focus on gaming, this year’s Computer Animation Festival will feature a segment on real-time rendering projects. The top selections will be played and demonstrated live on their respective platform (X-Box 360, PS3, PC, etc.).

The real-time work will have its own jury of industry professionals and experts. Entries will be judged on creativity, innovation, performance and most importantly, the ability to render in real time in front of a live audience during the Computer Animation Festival.

Selected contributors will be invited to show their projects as it renders live for the Computer Animation Festival Evening Theater audience, as well as showcase their work in The Sandbox, an area at SIGGRAPH 2009 dedicated specifically for attendees to get a hands-on gaming experience.

Focuses in real-time rendering in addition to games include: Mathematical or other industrial simulations, research projects, real-time artist explorations, new use of pioneering technology and scientific visualizations. SIGGRAPH 2009 will also include presentations and panels on the latest and most exciting work being created with real-time engines.

You can find more detailed submission info at

For complete information on SIGGRAPH 2009 or to download a copy of the SIGGRAPH 2009 Preview Video visit

Wachowskis Up For "Superman" Trilogy?

AICN has posted the surprising rumor (but from an apparently reliable source) that "The Matrix" helmers the Wachowski Brothers have been approached to re-boot the "Superman" franchise as a trilogy.

The comment comes from regular Wachowski collaborator James McTeigue (
"V for Vendetta," "Ninja Assassin") on a German TV show special on RTL1 that dealt with the films being released in the coming year.

The scoop adds that
"Superman Returns" director Bryan Singer has refused to be involved in the reboot and may fall back on his long-planned "Logan's Run" remake, but the Wachowski are still just considering the offer.

The pair have
"Plastic Man" in development with McTeigue serving as second unit helmer, should they take on the Superman job then it's likely McTeigue will be upped to full on director of "Plastic Man"

A new writer will punch up McG's Captain Nemo remake

Justin Marks has come on board to rewrite Disney's remake 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo, which McG will direct, Variety reported.

The reboot will serve as an origin story for Nemo as he creates his warship, the Nautilus. The film is based on characters from the Jules Verne novel and the 1954 film, which was the first live-action film made by Walt Disney.

The studio is fast-tracking the project, which will be McG's next after completing Terminator Salvation.

Marks wrote scripts for
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Voltron: Defender of the Universe, Street Fighter
and a Green Arrow movie. The first draft was penned by Bill Marsilii.

Sean Bailey (
) is producing with McG's Wonderland Sound and Vision.

Learn Klingon the easy way with this nice old lady with a mean bat'leth

Looking for a few extra language credits? Traveling to Qo'noS? Here's the course for you! has posted Klingon Nightschool, a new video from writer/director Gord McWatters (it's actually "Klingon Summer School," but whatever). This is the class you might find yourself in if you're earning your GED and the warp-drive mechanics class is full. Watch it below.

(Other credits: Daragh Sankey, editor/sound design; Adam Marsden, camera; Razie Brownstone as the Teacher)

Where will Dollhouse go? Eliza Dushku peers into the future

Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon (left) on set with star Eliza Dushku.

Eliza Dushku—the star and a producer of Fox's upcoming sci-fi series Dollhouse—wrapped the show's first 13-episode season last week, but says that she and series creator Joss Whedon are already thinking about more.

"We've only told 13 stories here, and we're all so excited," Dushku said in a conference call on Tuesday. "Even Joss and I today, Joss said, 'It's crazy, because we just finished these 13 episodes, and it's been such a hustle, and it's been so crazy, yet now that I haven't been in the writer's room in a week, I'm already thinking up ideas for the next 13 episodes. I'm dying to get back in the writer's room and tell more stories and tell stories that we have ideas and plans for from the get-go.'"

In Dollhouse, Dushku plays Echo, an "active" who is imprinted with a new personality to perform secret and illegal missions for rich paying clients. In early episodes she plays a hostage negotiator, a bow-hunting wilderness adventurer and a master thief. After each mission, her memory is wiped clean. But something goes wrong each time. (Spoiler alert!) In subsequent episodes, Echo has asthma attacks, a spontaneous memory wipe and a client obsessed with the most dangerous game.

During the conference call, Dushku teased some other upcoming episodes. The following Q&A features edited excerpts of the call. (More spoilers ahead!) Dollhouse debuts on Feb. 13 and will air Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

So far Echo has gotten an asthma attack, gotten hunted by a client and gotten wiped in the middle of a mission. What else can go wrong?

Anything and everything at any given time is sort of the point, I think. That's why we have our handlers there, to hopefully protect us from the bad. Each show, I think, that sort of thing is going to go down, because it's obviously not a perfect system, and it's not a perfect world. I can tell you I enter a cult as a blind cultist, and they send me in with cameras implanted into my eyes. Some things go down there. I can tell you that there's upcoming contact with Agent Paul Ballard, Tahmoh Penikett. There's going to be some charged stuff in those episodes.

Will we find out why Echo is the one glitching?

Well, I can tell you that you're going to find out what kind of timeframe the Dollhouse has been operating under, and what maybe happened to previous dolls. I think that we come into the story with Echo, but there have certainly been dolls before her, and there will certainly be dolls after her. Why Echo? Probably because I'm me, and Joss and I came up with the idea together, so we decided to bring the story up with me at the head of the herd.

How is her relationship with Sierra [Dichen Lachman] going to develop?

We pick up in the Dollhouse, and the dolls are starting to have these memories and develop these little flickers of self-awareness and recognize one another and remember things from engagements. Of course, that's considered a glitch in the Dollhouse system, and that's where all hell breaks loose. That's kind of where the show expands and gets interesting to me.

Joss said a goal of the show is to make people uncomfortable. How do you see that?

Making people uncomfortable, I guess, is sort of what interesting storytelling is to me. It's asking different questions and taking a closer look at desires and fantasies and taboos and sexuality. These are all things that Joss and I initially discussed. I knew he was a creative genius and had the ability and the imagination to create with me, at the same time, in a story that just put those parts together tightly, cleverly, with drama and humor and pain and joy. Anyone who's known his work in Buffy and anyone who knows him as a person knows that he's all those instruments. That's, I think, what makes this such an extraordinary show.

Will we see any clients learning that getting exactly what they want with an active is more of a curse than a gift?

Absolutely. I think that's sort of the point. That's one of the main themes in this whole story that we're telling here. Objectification hurts, whether you're the one being [objectified], whichever side you're on, because that's why we're all different. That's why there are certain parameters and morals in our society. When you step outside of those things and you put such control in certain people's hands, in terms of what people want and need and desire versus what they think they want and need and desire, they may be surprised. It's sort of the Frankenstein story. You're absolutely going to see clients wishing perhaps that they had not decided to add that extra element to their active or to their doll.

Was there one character out of the 13 imprints that you liked best?

It surprised me, because, on the one hand, it's awesome and exhilarating to be the sexy assassin, but at the same time, I've been surprised time and time again. Like, I play this blind cultist, and it was just so different than anything, any skin I've ever been in, and I really, really enjoyed it. It was challenging, yet it was liberating just to have the opportunity and to see the world—well, not see the world—but to be in the world in these different skins. That was a particularly special episode, as was being the personality of a 50-something-year-old woman in my own body. That was another one that's coming up that was very interesting.

I don't know if I have a favorite, but they've all had their own special nuances and places for me. I don't know, the composure and sophistication, it was thrilling, and it's fun for me to play. Now that I've done it once, I kind of am excited to try it on again. It definitely threw me at first. It was something that was out of my comfort zone, but from the very get-go Joss told me that he intended on taking me out of my comfort zone as much as possible on this show. So I welcome it. I'm up for any challenge and any uncomfortable scenario he wants to throw me, because that's what this is about.

Do you think there'll still be places to go in season five?

Absolutely. Look at how much we as human beings evolve in a day. There's constant evolution, if you think about how many desires and how many scenarios. Apparently, from day one, Joss has had a five-year plan for the show, and we've talked about what some of those are. I think that's one of the things that's so exciting about this show, is it's so open for endless possibilities. You're dealing with so much. It's mankind, and its thoughts and wishes and desires are by the millions, by the trillions. I mean, Joss is really a novelist, and you have to give him chapters to tell the story. The show just goes so deep, and it's so exciting and so thought-provoking and relevant.

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