Wednesday, March 18, 2009

News - 03/18/09...

Week of DVD Gold Leads to Weekend Bolt Release

St. Patrick’s Day kicks off a week featuring a veritable pot of golden animated DVD releases, but the title of most interest to animation fans—the Blu-ray version of Disney’s CG-toon feature Bolt—won’t hit until the weekend.

Leading the charge of today’s releases is comic book action sequel
Punisher: War Zone, starring Ray Stevenson as the ruthless Marvel Comics vigilante (Lionsgate, $29.95 DVD, $34.98 special edition DVD and $39.99 Blu-ray).

Additional animated releases include
A Pup Named Scooby Doo, Seasons 2-4 (Hanna-Barbera, $19.98), The Velveteen Rabbit (Anchor Bay, $24.97), Bakugan Vol. 3 (Warner Bros., $14.97), Barbie Presents Thumbelina (Universal, $19.98), Bleach, Vol. 15 (VIZ, $24.92), Bob the Builder on Site: Skyscrapers (Hit Entertainment, $14.98), Bunnytown: Hello Bunnies! (Disney $19.99), Dragon Tales: Our Amazing Pets (Sony, $12.99), Pokémon: Diamond & Pearl Vol. 5 and Vol. 6 (VIZ, $14.98 each) and The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 (Sony, $19.94 each).

In an unusual move, only the Special Edition Blu-ray of
Bolt will hit Sunday, with the regular DVD release following next Tuesday. The three-disc Disney Blu-ray release, which includes a standard DVD edition and a digital copy, retails for $39.99.

Also waiting until the weekend is the teen romance hit
Twilight, which arrives Saturday from Summit Entertainment in two-disc special edition DVD ($32.99) and Blu-ray ($34.99)

Getting its first Blu-ray release is
The Princess Bride (MGM, $34.99).

And Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the release May 26 on DVD and Blu-ray of
The Sky Crawlers, the new animated feature from Ghost in the Shell
director Mamoru Oshii.

Universal to Bring Barbie DVDs to the World

Universal Pictures International Entertainment will be taking Barbie on an around-the-world trip, thanks to a new deal the studio signed with Mattel for international distribution rights to the famous doll’s animated DVD feature franchise.

The deal will run for 10 years and includes distribution rights in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world outside the United States, Canada and a few select territories, Variety reports.

The deal covers the entire Barbie catalog as well as 10 new DVD titles over the next four years.

4 More Join Last Airbender Movie Cast

The cast of M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of The Last Airbender has grown by four, The Hollywood Reporter states.

Joining the adapation of the popular Nick cartoon are Aasif Mandvi as Commander Zhao, Cliff Curtis as Lord Ozai, Shaun Toub as Uncle Iroh—all members of the Fire Nation—and Keong Sim as Earthbending Father.

The Nickelodeon-Paramount production is the first in a planned trilogy, with an estimated budget of $250 million. The film is set to shoot in Greenland and Vietnam.

Watchmen Scripter Founds Dark Hero Studios

Watchmen co-scripter David Hayter and producer Benedict Carver have founded Dark Hero Studios to make sci-fi, horror and genre movies, TV shows and videogames.

The studio’s first project is Demonology, with Hayter writing and directing, reports Variety. The film will begin production after Hayter, whose screenplay credits include X-Men, X2 and The Scorpion King, finishes directing Slaughter’s Road, which he wrote and is making his directorial debut on with Carver producing through Crystal Sky Prods.

The company will tap into graphic novels, comic books, video game properties and original scripts for content. It is looking to secure financing and will retain ownership of its films in order to build up a library of content.

Mr. Magoo co-creator Millard Kaufman dead at 91

Screenwriter Millard Kaufman, co-creator -- with UPA director John Hubley -- of lovable, near-sighted Mr. Magoo, died Saturday, two days after his 92nd birthday.

Nominated for Oscars for writing Take the High Ground! (1953) and Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Kaufman died of heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, son Frederick told the Los Angeles Times.

Kaufman introduced Magoo as the writer of Ragtime Bear (1949), the first entry in UPA's Jolly Frolics series. In it, Magoo mistakes a banjo-lover bear for his own banjo-lover nephew with hilarious consequences.

Magoo looked a little different from his later cartoon appearances. He was voiced by former radio actor Jim Backus, who would continue to provide the distinctive Magoo sound in many subsequent adventures.

In 1950, Kaufman wrote Punchy De Leon, another entry in the Jolly Frolics series. It was the last of Columbia's Fox and Crow cartoons, which first appeared in 1941.

Kaufman said in a 2007 National Public Radio interview that Quincy (Magoo's first name) was modeled partly on his uncle.

"My uncle had no problem with his eyes," he recalled at the time. "He simply interpreted everything that came across his way in his own particular manner, and he could, at times, be a little bit difficult, but he would only see things the way they existed highly subjectively to him."

His first Oscar-nominated movie, Take the High Ground!, was his first screenplay for MGM. Starring Richard Widmark, it was a drama about Army basic training.

The military was also in the picture in suspense-drama Bad Day at Black Rock, with Spencer Tracy as a one-armed Second World War II veteran. The protagonist alights from the train at a tiny desert whistlestop, but finds himself way over his head. Kaufman was nominated for a WGA Award for Best Written American Drama.

Early on as a screenwriter, Kaufman acted as a front for the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo on the film noir Gun Crazy (1950). Although he didn't know Trumbo, they shared George Willner as an agent. Willner asked Kaufman if he'd allow his name to go on Dalton's script.

"I had sense enough to say, 'Let me talk it over with my wife.' But we discussed it and we believed it was rotten that a man couldn't write under his own name," he told Variety in 1992, the year that Kaufman officially asked the Writers Guild of America West to replace his name on the credits with Trumbo's.

Born in Baltimore on March 12, 1917, Kaufman spent two years as a merchant seaman after high school. In 1939, he earned a bachelor's degree in English from Johns Hopkins University. Moving to New York, he became a newspaperman, working for the Daily News and Long Island's Newsday.

He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1942, participating in the Guadalcanal campaign. He also landed at Guam and Okinawa.

At war's end, he became a screenwriter, writing the scripts for Unknown World and Aladdin and His Lamp. Kaufman then spent over a decade at MGM, where he gained the reputation for being a top script "doctor."

Among his other films were Raintree County, Never So Few, The War Lord, Living Free and The Klansman. On TV, his work included Enola Gay: The Men, the Mission, the Atomic Bomb.

At age 86, Kaufman had a major screenwriting assignment, but the project was scrubbed. "I decided, knowing that nobody my age gets work in movies, and that I had to do something, otherwise I'd get into terrible trouble, that I would try writing a novel," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2007.

The book, A Bowl of Cherries, was published in October 2007. It was the first novel for Kaufman, then 90. A New Yorker writer described it as "equal parts Catcher in the Rye and Die Hard."

His second novel, Misadventure, is set for release this fall.

His book Plots and Characters: A Screenwriter on Screenwriting -- billed as "part Hollywood history, part history of the art of storytelling" -- was published by Really Great Books in 1999.

Besides his son, Millard Kaufman is survived by his wife of 66 years, Lorraine; daughters Mary Carde and Amy Burk; and seven grandchildren.

In memory, here is the short Ragtime Bear:

Bob Godfrey’s Great (1975)

A rare treat is now online: Bob Godfrey’s epic animated short Great. This irreverent musical about 19th century British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the first British animated short to win an Oscar. It also won the BAFTA in 1975. Godfrey’s films usually don’t last long on YouTube so take a gander before it’s gone:

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Executive Notes for One Froggy Evening

Toronto live-action screenwriter Denis McGrath imagines what kind of notes today’s industry executives might give to Chuck Jones’ classic Warner Bros. cartoon One Froggy Evening. They are all too real. Samples from his blog:

re: the frog. Have you done research on Frog’s lifespans? Does it track that this frog could survive from 1892 to 2056? Is his long lifespan tied into his ability to sing?

Do they allow mental patients to keep pet frogs? Is it a companion animal thing? Will have to explain this, I think. The audience will want to know.

Read the whole piece on McGrath’s Dead Things On Sticks blog.

(Thanks, Warren Leonhardt)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Songwriter Jack Lawrence wrote "Beyond the Sea"

Songwriter Jack Lawrence, whose English version of "Beyond the Sea" was on the soundtrack of Pixar's 2003 blockbuster Finding Nemo, died Sunday night at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. He was 96.

Lawrence died of complications after falling in his Redding, Connecticut home Saturday and fracturing his pelvic bone. He was to have debuted his memoirs, Between the Sheets: The Stories Behind My Songs, at a book-signing March 28 at the Mark Twain Library in Redding.

"Beyond the Sea" helped launch the career of Bobby Darin. The English version of Charles Trenet and Albert Lasry's 1945 hit "La Mer" was sung by Robbie Williams on the Finding Nemo soundtrack.

With Sammy Fain, Lawrence wrote "Once Upon a Dream," performed by the chorus in Disney's 1959 feature film Sleeping Beauty. And although uncredited, he said that he collaborated with Frank Churchill to write "Never Smile at a Crocodile" and with Victor Young and Oliver Wallace to compose the title tune for 1953's Peter Pan (1953).

Lawrence was the lyricist for "All or Nothing At All" (music by Arthur Altman), performed by B.O. Skunk -- in a Frank Sinatra suit -- in Tex Avery's 1948 MGM short Little 'Tinker. And "Tenderly," which he wrote with Walter Gross, was performed by Ella Fitzgerald and The Oscar Peterson Trio on the soundtrack of Hubley Studios' The Tender Game (1958).

Fain and Lawrence's 1950 collaboration on several songs led to a contract with Disney Studios to score Sleeping Beauty.

"He was also a true pixie with a bubbling nature, always smiling; a delight to work with -- when you could catch him and pin him down to the piano," Lawrence recalled. "He was never difficult to find, every morning he was at the racetrack, betting and losing money.

"I would get to the studio early, study the storyboards and come up with some lines of lyrics to fit. When Sammy showed up, he would take my dummy lyrics and rattle off an instant melody. He had a natural talent for creating melody. In this fashion, we wrote the nucleus of a great, melodic score."

According to Lawrence, Walt Disney changed his mind about the movie, scrapping everything -- including Fain and Lawrence's score -- and decided to use Tschaikovsky's ballet music as a background for the music instead. Disney wanted the pair to write only a song based on the ballet theme.

Fain said, "Jack, you can knock off a lyric to that tune in five minutes. You don't need me for that!", Lawrence recounted. "True, I could have! But I convinced Sammy that if this was the only remaining sign of our collaboration on this film, both our names should be on the song.

"And that's how 'Once Upon A Dream' was written. Amazingly, this sweet waltz wracks up many performance credits each year and is a nice royalty earner for Sammy's and my catalogs."

While Lawrence was still working on Sleeping Beauty, Walt Disney called him in and asked him to write lyrics for Peter Pan's crocodile theme. Its music had been provided by Frank Churchill, who had died years earlier. "The music seemed to have a chuckle built into it; I loved it, came up with the title 'Never Smile At A Crocodile,' and wrote a tongue-in-cheek lyric to go with the title.

"Once again, Disney sent for me and Victor Young, who was then orchestrating Sleeping Beauty," Lawrence remembered. "Somehow, the team who had worked on Peter Pan had overlooked writing a title song for the film, and Walt asked Victor and me to complete one that had been started musically years before by Oliver Wallace. This song is the result of that three-way collaboration."

Born in Brooklyn, New York on April 7, 1912 to Jewish immigrants, Lawrence was a self-taught pianist composing his own songs by age 10. "Play Fiddle Play," an international hit, was the first song he sold for publication, earning him membership in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers at age 20. He was the youngest member to be accepted by ASCAP at the time.

Years later, in 1975, he was also among the first writers to be inducted into the National Songwriters Hall of Fame. For many years, he also held memberships in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Dramatists Guild of America.

Lawrence grew up in an Orthodox family of modest means as the third of four sons. He had practically no musical training.

Due to parental pressure after he graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, he enrolled in the First Institute of Podiatry and matriculated with a doctorate in 1932, the same year that saw the publication of his first song. With that, he forsook the practice of podiatry and a career was born.

Many of his songs were responsible for creating overnight stars. "Yes, My Darling Daughter" introduced Dinah Shore to the public via Eddie Cantor's weekly program and was her very first recording. "If I Didn't Care" was recorded by the then unknown Ink Spots and catapulted them to instant fame.

When he stepped forward as a solo singer, Sinatra's first big hit recording was "All Or Nothing At All." Rosemary Clooney's career was sparked by her record of "Tenderly."

His works were also recorded by such legendary artists as Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday. His song "Hold My Hand," from the film Susan Slept Here, was nominated for an Oscar in 1954.

In the 1980s, Lawrence was actively engaged as a Broadway producer and theater owner; his two theaters were named the "Jack Lawrence" (on Broadway) and the "Audrey Wood" (off Broadway). He was co-producer of the long-running off-Broadway success Other People's Money and Broadway's Lena Horne, The Lady And Her Music, as well as Come Back To The 5 And Dime, Jimmy Dean (which introduced Cher and Kathy Bates to Broadway and sent them on to screen fame).

Throughout the years, Lawrence's interest in creative arts led to his acquisition of an important collection of Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Luristan, Roman, African and pre-Columbian artifacts which he found on his many trips around the world. Added to all this were significant paintings and sculptures by such artists as Georgia O'Keeffe, Jules Pascin, Ben Shahn, Kuniyoshi, John Marin, Charles Sheeler, Jacob Epstein, Charles Demuth, Diego Rivera, Tamayo, Stuart Davis, Lyn Chadwick, Morris Graves and William Harnett. He served on the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art and arranged tours of his art collection throughout the United States and Europe, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Lawrence also discovered and sponsored the first New York showing of a Chilean artist Claudio Bravo, who has become internationally famous.

He also served on the board and was a charter member of Friends Of The Israel Museum along with another songwriter, Billy Rose. They helped create the National Museum in Jerusalem, where Lawrence's name will be inscribed. His endowments also benefited the Manhattan School of Music and, in Connecticut, the Danbury Hospital and the Mark Twain Library.

In a survey done by National Public Radio in 2002 that concluded with a list of 100 of the most prestigious musical works of the past century, Lawrence and Altman's "All or Nothing At All" (by virtue of the alphabet) led the list. That year, pianist Michael Feinstein honored Lawrence in a tribute to his career at the Weill Auditorium in Carnegie Hall. A best-seller by Gottleib and Kimball titled Reading Lyrics included seven of his songs.

In April 2003, Broadway Decca re-released the original cast album of Lawrence's and Stan Freeman's I Had A Ball.

Lawrence's Between the Sheets: The Stories Behind My Songs included photographs and intimate stories; his hit lyrics spanning the 1930s through 2008; sheet music of 20 famous favorites and new songs; and a bonus CD, They All Sang My Songs Volume 2. His autobiography, They All Sang My Songs: The Life and Times of Jack Lawrence, was published in 2004.

Wacky Races Reborn For Fiat

Wacky Races, or Corrida Maluca as it’s called in Brazil, has been been reborn - at least in a car commercial. Fiat, the Italian auto maker, called upon Daniel Messias and his studio to stage a race between a few of the Hanna Barbera characters and their Siena car. Here’s the results:

PULSE News Talks with John DiMaggio on Being "Brave & the Bold" Aquaman's PULSE News has spoken with voice actor John DiMaggio about his role as Aquaman on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. DiMaggio discusses how he got into animation voice acting after moving from New York to Los Angeles, and also how being Aquaman is a great consolation prize for not landing the role of Batman on the show. He also teases a bit more information about the upcoming musical episode of the show, and expresses his appreciation for the fans by saying, "I understand the sacred ground these heroes lie on. So to get a good reaction makes it that much more gratifying. I'd get total hate mail every day if I ever did Aquaman badly. I could never show my face in SDCC again!"

Nick and Mattel Release "Tween Dora" Image to Soothe Negative Reactions

In the wake of an overwhelmingly negative reaction to a teaser image of a "tween Dora the Explorer," Nickelodeon and Mattel have released a newer image and more information about the planned changes to the character. The older, silhouetted image has been replaced with a true photo of Dora, which reveals that the fears of a sexed-up Dora were unfounded. Nickelodeon also made clear that this new Dora will not replace the existing Dora the Explorer cartoon, but will be the model for an interactive doll for 5- to 8-year olds, in an effort to ensure that children stay with the Nickelodeon brand as they grow older. The companies also stated that the idea for the new toy came from unrelated research, discovering that "parents wanted a way to keep Dora in their children's lives and have their daughters move on to a toy that was age appropriate."

Marvel Animation Age & TZ News Present: Josh Keaton on "The Spectacular Spider-Man"

Josh Keaton is no stranger to being a hero. His voice acting career has stretched for the majority of his life, with roles as Jules Brown in Back to the Future: The Animated Series, the young Hercules in Disney's Hercules feature film, and Ocelot in the Metal Gear Solid series of video games. He is also no stranger to the world of Marvel Comics superheroes, having played a raft of characters over the years in video games, including Harry Osborn, Cyclops, and the Human Torch. However, his latest and best known role is now as Peter Parker, the title character of The Spectacular Spider-Man. To celebrate The Spectacular Spider-Man moving over to Disney XD, Toon Zone News and Marvel Animation Age were able to catch up with Keaton via telephone to talk about his work on the show, his previous encounters with the character, how to talk smack with a burnt tongue, and answers the most important question of all at the very end.

MARVEL ANIMATION AGE/TOON ZONE NEWS: How exactly did you get the role as Spider-Man on the show? Did you have to audition for it?

I did. There was an extensive audition process. I'm not exactly sure how many people there were, but I remember Greg saying something like 2,000 people were auditioned. Basically, it's just a process where they audition you, you read the copy, they put you all on tape. They'll take their huge group, they'll narrow it down probably in half, and then they'll take that and keep narrowing it down to a shortlist. Then they'll have a callback session, where they have their shortlist come in and re-read, usually additional copy, and it'll be directed this time. The first audition wasn't directed. It was one of these things where I just went into my voice-over agent's office because they have a studio there. The second audition was with some of the producers of the show there and the voice director Jamie Thomason, and he was directing whoever was coming in for that callback. I can't remember if there was a third callback or not. When I originally auditioned, I auditioned for three different parts. I auditioned for Peter/Spidey, I auditioned for Harry Osborn, and I also auditioned for Eddie Brock/Venom, and I am very happy with the role I was chosen to play (laughs).

MAA/TZN: I remember reading that you were a big fan of Spider-Man before the show.

Yeah, huge fan. Huge fan.

MAA/TZN: That must have been a big happy geek moment when you found out you got the part.

I can safely say that it was, and most of my friends are also geeks and involved in either comics or the industry in one way or another. I have a lot of friends that are either comic book artists, comic book inkers, or colorists, and they were all quite jealous. (laughs) Oh, and they were the most jealous of the new toy which I just picked up, which is the talking Spider-Man. I know they'll probably give me one, but they haven't given it to me yet and I had to have it, so I had to go out to Toys 'R Us. And funnily enough, the guy that I bought it from at Toys 'R Us asked me if I needed a gift receipt, and I looked at him and said, "No," and I think at that point, he knew I was buying it for myself, and he also ended up being a Spider-Man fan. So that was kind of neat.

MAA/TZN: This is actually not your first time being Spider-Man, is it?

It is not. I played Spider-Man in the first Spider-Man (movie) video game. However, after I recorded all my audio, they ended up getting approval to use Tobey Maguire's audio from the film. Now, they didn't want to waste all the audio they recorded with me, so they added a hidden mode of gameplay where if you beat the game, you can play as Harry Osborn in the Green Goblin suit. It's essentially the exact same game, pretty much the same storyline, but it's just Harry Osborn. So I was the de facto Harry Osborn. In the second Spider-Man game, they called me back just to play Harry because I think they had already gotten the approval for the movie audio for Spidey. So yeah, I play Harry Osborn in two games. Then there was another one: Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, and this is where it gets even sillier. I played Harry Osborn in that game, and James Arnold Taylor played Spider-Man in that game. However, in our show, James Arnold Taylor is Harry Osborn and I play Spider-Man. So that's been my long, twisted relationship with Spider-Man in media.

MAA/TZN: Was there anything you lifted from the video game portrayal to do Spider-Man for the new show?

No, not necessarily, because it was so long ago and that was pretty much all taken from the movie. For Spectacular, it's all written for the show. I did see the film, so it was something where I didn't necessarily have to work against sounding like Tobey or whatever. It was something where I brought my own performance to it, but...I mean, you were saying the lines directly out of the film. With (Spectacular Spider-Man), we homage some of the elements of the film and some of the things are pretty similar, but for the most part, it's more based on the classic era of Spidey.

MAA/TZN: I think you had said at one point that you didn't actually watch a lot of the earlier Spider-Man portrayals in animation before you started on Spectacular Spider-Man.

Well, that's not to say that I didn't watch them as a kid. I grew up watching a lot of stuff. The 60's show was before my time, and I was really, really young when Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends came out. But I did see the 90's one, and I did catch some of Spider-Man Unlimited. But yeah, I really did want to see the original ones, but not necessarily to influence my portrayal at all. It was just to see it. I wanted to see what was around back then. I wanted to see the progression of where this character's gone, and with technology and animation getting better, I kind of wanted to see how it all played out. So I did watch them, but never really with the intent of factoring somebody else's work into my portrayal.

MAA/TZN: I know I've seen other interviews where you say you identify strongly with Peter Parker because you had similar experiences growing up. My question to you is how is Peter Parker or Spider-Man the most UNLIKE you ?

Well, I don't have the super powers (laughs), and most of the events in my life aren't as dramatic or demanding as saving the world, or saving human life on a daily basis. But I have had some bad things happen to me. There's all things I can look to as reference, and plus I read a lot, so most of the things that I can't necessarily identify with, I can still empathize with, and create enough story in my imagination where I can figure it out and still make a believable portrayal. Honestly, there's so many things that have happened in his personal life, in terms of how he relates to Liz and Gwen and the women in his life, that have rang so true to me, it really hasn't been difficult to find similar events in my own life to get that motivation from. It really hasn't been too difficult of a part to play.

I would say that the hardest part was that once he's accepted the fact that he's Spider-Man, how much "bad acting" would Peter do to conceal his identity, because I've never really had to hide a secret that big. Sometimes, he might overcompensate, and you see in some of the episodes where he almost goes a little too nerdy, trying to show, "Hey, no, that's not me. I'm not that guy." And, I guess finding that balance between how much he can show and how much he can't, especially because you're only doing it with your voice. Voice acting has trended in a lot of ways towards a little bit more realism, so if you just kind of play the part the way you would if it were on camera, the character artists are good enough to be able to catch the little nuances in what you're saying.

MAA/TZN: So, the hardest thing for you, then, is just to be a bad actor, huh? (laughs)

(laughs) No, no, no. I don't know. It's tough, because quite honestly, I've not really had a character that I've identified so much with. Not to mention that he's always been a big part of my life. I've read a lot of Spider-Man, I grew up with the cartoons, so its almost like I've had the majority of my life to study this portrayal. It's probably why when I think about it, there's really not a lot that I find difficult about getting into his head, because I've been doing it for most of my life.

MAA/TZN: What would you say changed the most for you as an actor between starting the show and, say, by the end of season 1?

There's kind of a natural progression that just happens when you're on-set -- or, in this case, in the studio -- and you start to develop a rapport with the other actors in the cast. You see it in the show. The first time you see me with Marko or O'Hearn is very different from when we already have an established rapport. The banter changes, whereas before, they're both trying to feel each other out and trying to kick each other's asses. By the time it's their third or fourth meeting, they already know what to expect from each other. In a lot of cases, I've worked with a lot of these voice actors before, but I'd never worked with John DiMaggio before this show. He plays Sandman and Hammerhead, he does a fantastic job, and he's a really cool guy. So there is that rapport that develops. I think that that's probably the biggest change in terms of when you're watching the progression of the season. It's just like any other show, where you start seeing the cast members have a rapport. There's that same growth in animation, where you still get to see that.

MAA/TZN: Can you answer the same question about season 2 without giving anything away?

You'll be able to see it even further. Things that have been explored only halfway in season 1 get more developed. I mean, you get to see a lot more of Flash Thompson as a character, and him and Peter interacting. I won't say how it plays out, but you do get to see that relationship -- whether it be good or bad -- grow. You get to see more between the relationship between Peter and Gwen, him and MJ, him and Liz Allan. You get to see more Eddie Brock. There's a lot of dynamics, and all of the characters are constantly evolving. You've seen a lot of the origins of the super-villains on the show, like you've already seen Otto Octavius go from this meek guy that was always getting kicked around to the guy who says, "Screw it. I've got the power and I'm not going to get kicked around any more, and I'm a genius, so I'm going to go and be one." You're definitely going to see more of that in season 2, without giving away any storylines.

MAA/TZN: What do you think is the strangest thing you've had to do as Spider-Man in the booth?

Let's see...there's one gag where I burnt my tongue in the middle of a fight, (laughs) and trying to emote as though you have a burnt tongue and speak and still remain somewhat intelligible, but still have it really sound like you have a burnt tongue is really difficult, because you have to speak with your tongue essentially in your hand. If you've ever tried that, it's really hard. So that's probably one of the most difficult physical things I've ever had to do. That's probably the weirdest thing I've had to do yet.

MAA/TZN: What else do you have in the works? I know you have your music, and I know you have the Leisure Suit Larry game.

I'm not sure what's going on with the Leisure Suit Larry game, because I thought it was going to be out already, and it's not (laughs). I finished doing a Destroy Man part on a game called No More Heroes, which was popular. He's kind of an unapologetic jerk of a character, and he makes a return in what I'm assuming is a second installment of that game, so I just finished that. I've also just been working on music, working on production and writing for others as well my own material. And just hoping that season 3 gets a pick-up soon, because I'd love to get back into the trenches and keep working with Spidey.

MAA/TZN: Last question: between Gwen, MJ, and Liz, which one would Josh Keaton pick?

Josh Keaton would totally pick Gwen, and sometimes I get really really mad at Pete for not seeing that it's right there in front of him. She's cute, she's a dork, she's smart, she's kind of feisty. I want to smack him upside the head sometimes.

MAA/TZN: You know what, I've had the same urge sometimes watching the show.

Yeah! It's like, "Dude! Come on! What are you waiting for!" But yeah, Josh Keaton would definitely pick Gwen. Actually I'm engaged, and I pretty much tell people that I've found my Gwen. She's quite the dork, but she's beautiful and she's awesome.

The first season of The Spectacular Spider-Man will premiere on Disney XD on March 23, 2009, at 7:30 PM, with the new season of the show scheduled to begin over the summer of 2009. Visit the official Spectacular Spider-Man website for more information. For more info about Josh Keaton, visit his official website or his MySpace page dedicated to his music.

Rumored THOR Cast List

At the Deadline Hollywood blog, Nikki Finke runs through the latest casting rumors on 'Thor' and adds some names to the list.

According to Finke, there is an inexplicable "big push" to get Josh Hartnett in the movie. While other websites have called Hartnett for the role of Loki, Finke reports that he may be under consideration for the lead role.

According to her report, other Thunder God candidates that are being screen-tested include:

* - Charlie Hunnam ('Sons Of Anarchy')
* - Tom Hiddleston ('The Gathering Storm')
* - Alexandar Skarsgard (tipped previously by several sites)
* - Liam Hemsworth ('The Expendables')
* - Joel Kinnaman ("some Danish dude," according to Finke)

And here's one last name to get the fans buzzing - Finke hears that Natalie Portman has been cast as the female lead.

How did Jack Bauer help Kiefer Sutherland in Monsters vs. Aliens?


Kiefer Sutherland, who voices Gen. W.R. Monger in the upcoming 3-D animated film Monsters vs. Aliens, told SCI FI Wire that he's flattered when people compare his performance to George C. Scott's Oscar-winning role in Patton.

"When we were talking, [we figured] that this was someone who's been kind of removed from society for some 20-odd, 30 years," Sutherland said in an exclusive interview. "His responsibility is to kind of keep this thing secret, and I think that kind of isolation makes you eccentric."
Sutherland's general is in charge of a crew of captured monsters, including 49-foot-11-inch-tall Susan Murphy, aka Ginormica (Reese Witherspoon); the brilliant but insect-headed Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D. (Hugh Laurie); the Missing Link (Will Arnett); the gelatinous B.O.B. (Seth Rogen); and the 350-foot Insectosaurus. They are enlisted to combat the Alien Robot, driven by Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson), and to save the world from imminent destruction.

Sutherland (24) wanted to give his military character a bit of "Southern flair." "We just started messing around with those key notes," he said. "When I went in to do the first day, there was a visual representation of every character, which is exactly what they look like today. So those kinds of elements, combined with the way he looked, we thought would be funny, and so we messed around with it like that."

Sutherland added that he didn't think of Scott when first creating the voice, but that he eventually became a natural inspiration for the general's character. "I was goofing around with the voice, and someone said, 'You're Yosemite Sam,' and I went, 'Oh, no!'" he said. "So I had to pull back on some things and kind of stay away from that. But I love those old cartoon voices. It came out of that. But a few people have brought up George C. Scott, which I'm relieved about and flattered."

Sutherland's experience on Fox's 24, in which he plays the often bellicose Jack Bauer, also helped. "After seven years of doing 24, I think because of the volume and panic of so much of his dialogue, I yell quite a lot, and so I think I've really strengthened my vocal cords and, most importantly, the muscles around them," Sutherland said. "I know how dangerous that is, because my father [Donald Sutherland] did the opposite thing when he was in England right before I was born. He was working on a play where he actually damaged his voice because he pushed it so hard."

Monsters vs. Aliens opens March 27.

Battlestar's Ronald D. Moore on how his show will go out: in style

Ronald D. Moore (right) on the set of Battlestar Galactica

Ronald D. Moore, co-executive producer of Battlestar Galactica, told SCI FI Wire that it was incumbent on him to deliver a series finale that closed out the series in style, tied up most of the dangling story threads, left a few people dead and pleased the longtime faithful. In other words, he didn't want to frak it up.

Speaking exclusively with SCI FI Wire at SCI FI Channel's upfront presentation for advertisers and the media last night in New York, Moore also stressed that the upcoming prequel series, Caprica, is a very, very different beast from Battlestar Galactica.

Following are edited excerpts from our exclusive interview. The two-hour series finale of
Battlestar Galactica, "Daybreak, Part 2," will premiere on SCI FI this Friday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Were you personally ready to let Battlestar Galactica go, or did you think the show had another year in it?

I was ready to let it go creatively. I knew that the show had entered the endgame, and I knew that we were in the third act. It was time to wrap up the story. I wasn't emotionally ready to let it go, and I'm still not. It was a very important experience for me. I love it. I loved working on it. I loved the people I got to know. I loved the end product. I liked watching the show. I was a fan of the show. So it's hard to know that there's not more Galactica coming. But as a producer and as a writer, I'm very happy that we got to end it on our own terms.

Obviously you wanted to tie everything up in the last batch of episodes, but how important was it to get the finale right?

Oh, it was very important to get the finale right. When you walk out after any production—a movie, a play, a TV show, a book—the final chapter is what you remember the most. It's what you leave, the feeling that you leave with that creative piece of material that ultimately brings out and really informs how you feel about it overall. So it was really important to have the finale be meaningful and to have it work.

Let's move on to Caprica. Just how different will it be from Battlestar Galactica?

Caprica will be a very different show. It's not stylistically similar. It's not similar in the way that its stories are told. The mythology is different. We went out of our way to make sure that you didn't have to watch Galactica in order to enjoy Caprica. It's just really a different show, top to bottom.

It's also a different brand of SF than Battlestar Galactica, right?

It is a different kind of sci-fi. It's not action-adventure. We're not going to have the Cylons attacking every week, obviously. It's not space-based. It's on a planet. It's about family drama and politics, and it's an allegory for a lot of things that are happening in today's society. It's just a very different series.

International ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ Posters Hit The ‘Net With Logan, Sabretooth & Gambit
A trio of new international posters for “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” have popped up online featuring Logan (Hugh Jackman), Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) and Gambit (Taylor Kitsch). While the images don’t exactly offer up any new scoops about the film, we do see a new (”bad-ass”, even?) pose from Wolverine and his nemesis — and heck, it’s just another opportunity to brush up on our foreign language skills.

Below, check out all three images of the international promo posters, as well as a quick roundup of “Wolverine” movie news that’s been burning up the InterWebs lately.

Just in case you missed the latest “Wolverine” movie news, one of the characters not featured on the international promo posters has had the online world buzzing recently — namely, Deadpool. Earlier today, actor Ryan Reynolds tried to clear up some of the confusion about Deadpool and the mystery mutant in the final “Wolverine” movie trailer.

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