Thursday, May 21, 2009

News - 05/21/09...

Aniboom Unwraps FOX Contest

FOX is really stoking the animation development fire these days. They launched their Inkubator project last year, and now they’ve teamed up with for the FOX-Aniboom Holiday Animation Challenge. The trailer below explains the basics, but in case you enjoy the typed word more, I’ll spell it out: animators are invited to submit a 2-4 minute animated holiday short that fits the FOX tone, of which 5 will be chosen for a $5K prize. The grand prize winner will take home an additional $10K, a development deal with FOX, and a date with Seth MacFarlane (one of these prizes is a decoy). They’ll begin accepting submissions on May 27th, so sharpen your comedy chops and get chopping.

TONIGHT: Little Mermaid reunion in Burbank

It’s tonight and everyone’s invited. ASIFA-Hollywood Proudly Presents The Little Mermaid Twentieth Anniversary Reunion. Special guests for the panels will include the film’s writers and directors John Musker & Ron Clements, animators Andreas Deja (King Triton), Mark Henn (Ariel), Duncan Marjoribanks (Sebastian), Reuben Aquino (Ursula) and Tina Price (CAPS system and early CGI). The panel will be moderated by animator Tom Sito.

The event starts at 7pm at Woodbury University, Fletcher Jones Foundation Auditorium. Reservations are not required for this event. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Members of ASIFA-Hollywood and students of Woodbury admitted free; non-members $10. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Parking is free. Woodbury University is located at 7500 Glenoaks Blvd., in Burbank, California.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Vincent Davis 1944-2009

Animation director Vincent Davis (above left) passed away on May 6th. An incomplete list of his credits is on IMDB. His friend and colleague Mark Kausler (above right) just posted a tribute to his friend on his blog. It’s a must-read.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Voice Of Mickey Dead At 62

Wayne Allwine, who has voiced Mickey Mouse since 1977, succumbed to complications of Diabetes at the age of 62. Wayne took over the voice chores of Mickey from Jimmy McDonald who replaced the original voice of the mouse, Walt Disney. He is survived by his wife Russi Taylor who currently voices Minnie Mouse.

Allwine's first appearance as Mickey was voicing the animated lead-ins for The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1977. His first appearance as Mickey for a theatrical release was in the 1983 featurette Mickey's Christmas Carol and he has provided the voice for Mickey Mouse ever since. In this featurette he also voiced the old man on the street at the start of the movie and the two weasels in the Christmas future scene.

He also starred in films such as The Prince and the Pauper (1990), and Mickey, Donald, and Goofy: The Three Musketeers (2004), and the TV series Mickey's MouseWorks (1999-2000), House of Mouse (2001-2002), and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006-2008). He provided Mickey's voice too for nearly every entry in the popular Kingdom Hearts series of video games.

He had done the voice of Mickey Mouse longer than anyone else, through 2009. Walt Disney did Mickey from 1928 to 1947 while Jimmy MacDonald did it on a regular basis from 1947 to 1953. In addition to his voice work, Allwine had also been a sound effects editor on Disney films and TV shows including Splash (1984) and Three Men and a Baby (1987) as well as Alien Nation (1988), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Innerspace for other studios.

Below is an interview with Allwine and Russi Taylor, who voiced Minnie, from the Walt Disney Treasures box set Mickey Mouse in Living Color: Volume Two.

Rainmaker Entertainment revenues plunge 46%

Vancouver-based animation firm Rainmaker Entertainment Inc. is blaming external production delays on the feature film Escape from Planet Earth for a 46% drop in first-quarter revenue -- as well as a 31% decrease in animation revenue.

Revenue was $3.9 million for the quarter ended March 31 this year, compared with $7.2 million for the same period in 2008, the company reported Thursday.

Escape from Planet Earth, directed by Tony Leech (Hoodwinked!), had been set for 2009 release.

"The first quarter of 2009 was a difficult one for Rainmaker," admitted CEO Warren Franklin. "The client has tentatively indicated a new delivery date for the film of late fall 2010. We have implemented a revised production schedule that will see production increase over the summer to full production in the fall of this year.

Adding to the revenue decrease was a decline in the number of projects in the studio's DVD division.

"Other factors affecting the first-quarter results were significant non-recurring severance amounts paid to former employees. The next three quarters will continue to be challenging but we expect our results to steadily improve over the coming year as production volumes increase,"
Franklin added.

Rainmaker also reported a net loss of $2.7 million, compared with a net loss of $432,000 in the same period last year. Earnings before income taxes reached $828,000, but there was an after-tax loss of $1.3 million.

Although the next three quarters will be challenging, the company said, it expects results to improve steadily over the year with rising production volumes.

Bill Plympton's "Hot Dog" a winner in Baton Rouge

"Hot Dog," directed by Bill Plympton of the United States, was named the winner of the Red Stick International Animation Festival's Best of the Fest film competition in the Animated Short Film – Professional category.

Held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the annual event describes itself as "the largest animation festival in the United States."

The winner in the Animated Short Film – Student category was Office Noise, directed by Mads Johansen, Torben Søttrup, Karsten Madsen, and Lærke Enemark of Denmark. The Curse of Skull Rock, directed by Ben Smith of the United Kingdom, won for Animation for Young Audiences.

Other winners of the 2009 Best of the Fest Competition are:

Animation for Commercials
Virgin Media – Therapy (dir. Rob Cazin, U.S.A.)

Experimental Animation/Visual Music – Professional
Escape from the Temple (dir. Zhou Xing, China)
Lost Utopia (dir. Mirai Mizue, Japan)

Music Video
(dir. Guy Ben Shetrit, Israel)

The Red Stick International Animation Festival received a record 435 entries from 45 countries for this year's competition.

"We received a lot of top-quality work this year, from more countries than have ever participated before," said festival host Stephen David Beck, interim director of the LSU Center for Computation and Technology. “We also were fortunate to partner with to let more people participate in our film jury and screen this original work. We hope to receive even more entries for the 2010 competition.”

The festival will announce categories for its 2010 Best of the Fest competition during SIGGRAPH, the premier conference on computer graphics and interactive systems, which will take place August 3 to 7 in New Orleans.

LSU's Center for Computation and Technology sponsors the festival in partnership with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President's Office, Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and Louisiana Economic Development.

To see a list of planned events for the sixth annual festival in 2010, visit

Funky HB

John Kricfalusi has been drawing Hanna Barbera characters all his life. Thankfully, he saved it all. Now he’s collecting all his HB art, published and unpublished, finished paintings, notebook doodles - everything - and posting it on a new blog: John’s Funky HB. Check it out now!

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

4Kids Suffers Smaller Loss in Latest Quarter

Separately, 4Kids Entertainment reported last week that it suffered a loss of $2.0 million in the first quarter of 2009, an improvement over the $6.4 million net loss the company recorded in the same period a year ago. Revenues fell by almost a third, to $10.2 million.

DreamWorks Launching Arena Shows

DreamWorks Animation is creating live arena shows based on two of its properties, the company has announced.

For How to Train Your Dragon, to be based on the company's 2010 release of the same name, DreamWorks is working with Walking With Dinosaurs-producer Global Creatures. The story, derived from a book by Cressida Cowell, is a comedy adventure about an initiate in dragon-fighting who befriends an injured dragon.

Meanwhile, DreamWorks is working with Franco Dargone on a live arena show based on Kung Fu Panda, which it hopes to have ready for touring in June 2011, to coincide with the release of the sequel.

"The Simpsons" Season 12 Coming in August

The Simpsons season 12 comes to DVD in a 4-disc set on 8/18/09 for $49.98. It will be available in both regular packaging as well as in Comic Book Guy head form. It contains every episode from season 12:

Disc 1:
-Treehouse of Horror XI
-A Tale of Two Springfields
-Insane Clown Poppy
-Lisa the Tree Hugger
-Homer vs. Dignity

Disc 2:
-The Computer Wore Menace Shoes
-The Great Money Caper
-Skinner's Sense of Snow
-Pokey Mom
-Worst Episode Ever

Disc 3:
-Tennis the Menace
-Day of the Jackanapes
-New Kids on the Blecch
-Hungry, Hungry Homer
-Bye Bye Nerdie
-Simpson Safari

Disc 4:
-Trilogy of Error
-I'm Goin' to Praiseland
-Children of a Lesser Clod
-Simpsons Tall Tales

Special material includes commentary on every episode, deleted scenes, featurettes, illustrated commentaries, animation showcases, animatic/storyboards, commercials (Nestle, Burger King, and Red Lobster), The Global Fanfest, and a sketch gallery.

Diedrich Bader Replaced With Soundalike for Batman Toy

Voice Actors in the News reports that Diedrich Bader was replaced last week with a soundalike to record the voice of Batman for an upcoming action figure from Mattel.

Bader says that neither he nor his agent were notified prior to the recasting. They (Mattel) just heard that he was out of town shooting a guest appearance for an episode of the upcoming LifeTime TV drama/comedy Drop Dead Diva, and simply moved forward without him.

While soundalikes are often cast for mass-market products such as this, this is an unfortunate case where Bader could have still recorded the voice via an ISDN-equipped studio or they could have waited a couple more days for him to return to Los Angeles. But Mattel simply didn't bother to contact him or his agent either way.

Voice Actors in the News adds that Bader even "stated that it 'wasn’t really a big deal' because it was only for an action figure that they’d replaced his voice — it’s not like they recast him for the TV show. But he was mainly upset that they couldn’t have waited just a couple days until he was back in LA. That, and also that he wanted his son to have a Batman action figure which featured his voice."

Although little can be done at this point, if fans wish to contact Mattel’s Consumer Relations their number is 800-524-8697 (in the U.S. and Canada). Their standard business hours are Monday through Friday 9 AM – 7 PM (EST) and Saturdays 11 AM – 5 PM (EST). English, French and Spanish speaking agents are available, and hearing impaired support is available by calling 800-382-7470.

Read the complete story at Voice Actors in the News.

Up's co-director on voicing a dog—and why

Bob Peterson—co-director, writer and voice actor in Up—counts himself as an fan of Ed Asner, the multiple Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actor who voices the main character in Disney/Pixar's upcoming 3-D animated film.

As he told SCI FI Wire at the film's world premiere in Hollywood last Saturday, he and his fellow Pixar filmmakers couldn't be happier with their choice. "We grew up with him," Peterson said. "I mean, he is [great]. We saw The Mary Tyler Moore Show all our lives, and [he provided] night after night of great comedic timing, you know, [his] timing is so great, and we just knew he was our guy."

The movie calls for Asner's character, elderly Carl Fredricksen, to have a hard shell but a soft center. "Ed Asner is a curmudgeon, but he is a lovable curmudgeon," Peterson said. "Crusty yet lovable is the term. When we showed him the statue of what Carl looks like, he said, 'That looks nothing like me!' and we go, 'Oh, perfect. He's our man,' because he says what he thinks, and that is what we wanted Carl to be. He's soulful, too. And very funny at times, so we knew he would balance that curmudgeonly quality."

Peterson himself voices the dogs Alpha and Dug. Judging from Up's trailers and early screenings, Dug is quickly shaping up as a fan favorite. "[As for me doing voices,] we wanted to make sure that actors are the first in mind, but if we find that the [temporary] voice happens to play well, we will consider it," Peterson said. "And so I will play the temporary voice, and we usually assume that we will put a famous person in there, but we didn't. That's the way it was with Roz, too, in Monsters, Inc. It's always fun, because you get to be a ham, [because otherwise] you're just there with your mouse and your keyboard, so this way you can improve a little bit and be silly."

As far as silliness goes, Peterson said that the 3-D aspect of the movie is far from that. "We tried to stay away from anything gimmicky in our 3-D," he said. "Mainly, it's like looking into a world, and the balloons are off in the distance. There are a few times that they'll come by close to camera, but we really just wanted them to support the story emotionally with the 3-D. If you're thinking about 3-D, then you are not thinking about the story. So we went very subtle with that."

Up opens in theaters nationwide on May 29.

Actress Juliet Landau Discusses Upcoming "Green Lantern: First Flight" Animated Feature

Warner Home Video has released an all-new studio-conducted interview with actress Juliet Landau, the voice of sultry alien Labella in the upcoming direct-to-video Green Lantern: First Flight animated feature.


Actress Juliet Landau (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Angel) conjures a Cajun sultriness to her voice for the character of Labella in Green Lantern: First Flight. The all-new DC Universe animated original movie will be distributed July 28, 2009 by Warner Home Video.

Actress Juliet Landau, a fanboy favorite from her devious appearances on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel, easily glides into the voice of sultry alien Labella in Green Lantern: First Flight, the next DC Universe animated original PG-13 movie coming to DVD on July 28, 2009.

Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation are set to release the all-new Green Lantern: First Flight on July 28, 2009. The Blu-ray™ Hi-Def edition, the special edition 2-disc DVD, and a single disc DVD will be distributed by Warner Home Video. The action-packed movie will also be available OnDemand and Pay-Per-View as well as available for download day and date, July 28, 2009.

Turning her attention behind the camera, Landau has received notable praise for her initial pair of directing gigs. She helmed Take Flight, a documentary centering on the creative process of actor/director Gary Oldman, which drew rave reviews at a recent advance screening. Her co-direction of the Godhead music video, "Hero," is garnering widespread Internet acclaim. She also has been busy at the keyboard, co-writing the Drusilla story line for the Angel comic books as well as scripting It’s Raining Cats and Cats, a short film in which she intends to play seven different roles.

Christopher Meloni provides the voice of Hal Jordan, the alter ego of the title character in Green Lantern: First Flight. The cast includes Victor Garber, Tricia Helfer and Michael Madsen. Landau offers a Cajun-style vocal performance for Labella, a mistress of the seedier side of the universe in which the Green Lantern Corps patrol.

Landau and Meloni have worked closely together in the past, starring as brother and sister in the 1999 award-winning independent film Carlo’s Wake. Landau is also another member of the growing legion of Whedonverse actors to figure prominently in a DC Universe film. Among Whedon/DCU alums are Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, James Marsters and David Boreanaz, with a few more on the DCU horizon.

Fortunately for the masses, Landau carved a few minutes out of her busy schedule to chat about voiceover work, the development of her
Green Lantern: First Flight
character, and the ability to grow and create in the entertainment business. So sit back and enjoy an intriguing Q&A with Juliet Landau …

QUESTION: What is the enticement of voiceover for animation?

It is so much fun! You get to sit with a bunch of actors and play. Really play! There’s no hair and make-up, no primping – just absolute, uninhibited creativity. That’s the real joy of acting. And it doesn’t get any better than working with Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano.

QUESTION: Do you have a preference for the type of characters you play?

I like playing all different kinds of characters. Each one is it’s own little puzzle. Aliens are fun because you have a lot of freedom. The voice of Labella just came to me when I read the pages in a kind of organic in a way. I immediately felt like she had to sound the way I played her. When I came in for looping (pick up sound work) Andrea Romano described my Labella sound as “honey-voiced.” I think that really captures it.

Labella fears the power of the purple sphere – and what Sinestro intends to do with it – in a telling scene from Green Lantern: First Flight, an all-new DC Universe animated original movie set for distribution July 28, 2009 by Warner Home Video. Actress Juliet Landau (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Angel) provides the voice of Labella.

QUESTION: Tell us about Labella?

There was a lot of room for invention in this character, especially with the device they use with her. I don’t want to give it away, but she does go through a bit of torture and it causes a rift between Sinestro and Hal. I really liked the sexuality and the flirtatiousness of the character. She’s very different from any of the characters I’ve voiced on Justice League Unlimited or Ben 10: Alien Force – she’s a completely unique character.

QUESTION: You spent some time acting alongside Christopher Meloni as brother and sister in Carlo’s Wake. Do you have any good tales to tell about our Hal Jordan?

Carlo’s Wake revolved around a big Italian family gathering together at the patriarch’s funeral. The immediate “Torello” family rehearsed at my house prior to shooting. I remember working on this funny scene where (Chris Meloni’s character) Benny tells me about his existential crisis while out on the fishing boats catching tuna. With despondency, he asks something like, “What is it all for?” And my character Anna, who was not the sharpest tool in the shed, says something akin to ”I thought it was so’s we could have tuna salad sandwiches …”

Chris was flown to New York while we were shooting to meet with Garry Marshall about Runaway Bride. Upon returning, he came into the make-up room and told us about the meeting and we were all saying, “It sounds like you’re gonna get this!” And indeed, he did.

Labella (far left) attempts to dissuade Sinestro from pursuing additional, potentially harmful interrogation during Green Lantern: First Flight, an all-new DC Universe animated original movie set for distribution July 28, 2009 by Warner Home Video. Actress Juliet Landau (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Angel) performs the voice of Labella.

QUESTION: When did you start comics writing, and what’s the attraction of the written word?

My first foray into comics is a two-issue arc about Drusilla for Angel: After the Fall. I am co-writing with Brian Lynch and enjoying it immensely. The first issue will be out in July, the second in August. I have been working with 3 different artists on some of the imagery and cover art as well. I also wrote a short film called It’s Raining Cats and Cats, which I will co-direct. Exploring these different facets of creativity has been truly inspiring. As an actor, you’re a component; but when you’re writing and directing, it is your vision of the whole project, which is very appealing. Take Flight has been an amazing experience. Gary Oldman directed a music video shot entirely on Nokia cell phones. Initially he asked me to direct the “Making Of.” But what started out solely as a behind-the-scenes “Making Of,” bloomed into a short documentary film about Gary’s creative process. He loves the movie because it shows him in a light he’s never been seen.

For more information, images and updates, please visit the film’s official website at

Oshii's 'The Sky Crawlers' Anime Film on DVD

Sony Prepares Release of Anime Film 'The Sky Crawlers'

Celebrated anime director Mamoru Oshii's latest epic, The Sky Crawlers, is ready for its stateside home video release. A director whose traditionally agressive narrative sensibility has complicated, mystified, enthralled, enlightened, and inspired countless moviegoers and young artists over the years, Oshii has a knack for blending the subconscious subtleties of impossible youth romances and the socio-political realities of a what-if culture. In other words, in a story where the worldview mirrors that of today's, but whose circumstance is different, one must ask if the violent and nostalgic characters of Oshii's tales behave in a manner all that different than those considered more human by contemporary standards.

The Sky Crawlers, based on a five-part novel by Hiroshi Mori, is a marvelous adventure where a young fighter pilot struggles with his fuzzy past. One of a group of eternally young pilots known as "kildren," Yuichi Kannagi is fated to live forever with the appearance as a teenager. He will never grow old, and will only meet his death if by chance he perishes in a dogfight in the heavens above. The kildren, you see, fight in mock battles in the skies for the gleeful if not glazed eyes of bored independent war contractors keeping busy in otherwise peaceful times. As a kildren, Yuichi cannot age into adulthood, but ponders why he cannot recall his shady past.

At one point transferring to a new aerial combat base, Yuichi meets a young female commanding officer by the name of Suito Kusanagi. Suito is also a kildren, and appears to know more about her condition than she is letting on. Yuichi and the commander become close, and the romance betwixt the characters helps engage the audience in discovering how the beautiful chaos of war so often mimics the lonely, sadly heroic, everyday struggle one has with their destiny.

The Sky Crawlers, distributed by Sony Pictures, will be available on DVD May 26, 2009 for $27.96 with subtitles only-- bonus features will include an interview with the animated film's director and additional featurettes on sound design and production research (Blu-ray disc only). Unusually minimalist for a Mamoru Oshii film, The Sky Crawlers holds a rather straightforward storyline, ultimately pursuing a solution with the audience as to how one defines a romance most heavily outlined by a blurry, makeshift "war as entertainment." Are the pilots too young to understand the meaning of their battles? Are their behavioral idiosyncrasies, riddles of the heart, or outward bravado mere caricatures or shells of past lives?

Or perhaps, as Oshii states, there is just one underlying theme:
"Life is hard and full of anguish."

For several years director Mamoru Oshii has managed to contrive half-realities full of the political intrigue and sweaty violence that breathe new life into animated drama. From
Patlabor: the movie
(1989) and Patlabor 2 (1993), which each devise phenomenally clever characters and the even cleverer conflicts between them, to seminal theatrical release Ghost in the Shell (1995) which probed the ill-defined boundaries of human consciousness as it interacts with ever-expanding networks of emerging intelligence… Oshii's prowess as a director sharpens his viewers' aptitude as critics of culture and film. From the grittiness of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (2000) to the surreal in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004), Mamoru Oshii's creative expanse has surfaced many times. The Sky Crawlers'
fascination with tying together the romantic fate of two young characters amidst a facsimile war, is indeed a continuation of this.

'The Sky Crawlers' Japanese Promotional Video

New trailer for ABC's V is now live

The new trailer has gone live for ABC's upcoming V, which you can view after the jump.

The trailer sets up the show and the main characters, starting with a sequence right out of Independence Day. V is slated to debut in midseason in early 2010.

President Obama Kills Mutant Registration Act

Super-powered civil rights activists can breathe a sigh of relief. According to faux news site The Onion, U.S. President Barack Obama has vetoed the Mutant Registration Act.

The bill, which The Onion reports to have made its way through the Senate earlier this week, would have required all “Mutant Americans” to register their identities and powers with a specially created federal agency. It’s unclear whether or not the House Un-American Activities Committee, which forced the Justice Society of America to disband, was involved in creating the bill.

Surprisingly, the president’s decision to veto the bill was not credited to the lessons of either Fox’s X2″ or Pixar’s “The Incredibles” films, “Watchmen’s” Keene Act or even Marvel’s “Civil War” comic book storylines, all of which demonstrate the fundamental hazards of shackling powered protectors as government operatives and eliminating genetic privacy. The Onion reports the president was convinced to veto the bill by his Portuguese water dog Bo, who is actually a mutant shape-shifter from Cincinnati.

Of course, that’s not to say the president, who is a noted
Spider-Man and Conan fan, wasn’t at least partially influenced by the X-Men
, especially given his subtle nod to mutant Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin, better known as Colossus.

“In the last eight years we have failed to reach out to Americans who can transform themselves into living steel,” Obama said.

No word on whether this veto will affect the activities of non-mutant costumed crime fighters.

Kevin Smith Has ‘No Interest’ In Working On Big-Screen Comic Book Adaptations

In a story that has become comic book movie legend, Kevin Smith was hired in the late ‘90s to write the script for a “Superman” reboot. You can hear Smith himself recount his hilarious misadventure with the Man of Steel around the ‘Net, but the bottom line is that he got booted off the project. Years later, he penned a draft of “The Green Hornet” that never took off.

As always here at Splash Page HQ, we just can’t help wondering what might have been. So, when the director stopped by the office recently, we were curious to know whether Smith would ever undertake a comic book adaptation again.

“I have no interest in making those movies,” Smith told MTV News. “They look very tedious to make. It takes a talent that I just do not have. But I love to kick back and watch them.”

He went on to cite Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight”) and Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) among the ideal candidates to direct comic book properties. And when it came to the question of writing another script, Smith questioned the very need for a “name writer.”

“When I got hired for that ‘Superman’ gig, the first thing out of my mouth was like, ‘Why are you talking to me?’” he said. “Why don’t you talk to Dan Jurgens or somebody who works on ‘Superman?’ You’ll get a great script out of a dude who’s worked on 60 issues of ‘Superman.’ I guarantee it.”

“But then it was all about, ‘Well, they’re not in movies.’ And now it’s different,” continued Smith. “Now you can cherry-pick and go into a genre and be like, ‘Let’s take these dudes. They write on ‘Lost.’ Their episodes are good. Let’s let them write a script.’ You don’t need a cat like me. And you shouldn’t get a cat like me.”

In that sense, Smith maintains it’s “a golden age to be not just a movie fan but a comic book fan.” After all, he said, “Before I ever picked up a camera or started writing, I was just a fan.”

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