Wednesday, June 10, 2009

News - 06/10/09...

Disney Confirms More Tinker Bell on DVD

Disney brings back the magic of fairies this fall, announcing the Oct. 27 release of the original animated sequel Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure on DVD and Blu-ray.

The studio also announced that it is developing a fifth film in the series, tentatively titled
Tinker Bell: Race Through the Seasons, to be directed by Bobs Gannaway (Leroy & Stitch).

Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
is directed by Klay Hall (Father of the Pride, King of the Hill) and produced by Sean Lurie. It is the second film in the Disney Fairies franchise.

Both the DVD ($29.99) and Blu-ray ($39.99) editions include bonus features such as alternate scenes, a magical guide to Pixie Hollow, deleted scenes, and more.

The news livens up an otherwise slow week of new DVD and Blu-ray releases for animation fans. Animated releases this week include
The Best of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (NCircle, $9.99), Bob The Builder: Truck Teamwork (HIT, $14.98), Care Bears: Tell-Tale Tummies (Lionsgate, $14.98), Shaun the Sheep: Sheep on the Loose (HIT, $14.98) and Wonder Pets: Ollie's Slumber Party (Paramount, $16.99).

Major live-action releases include the Clint Eastwood film
Gran Torino (Warner Bros., $28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray), thriller The International (Sony, $28.96 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, $24.94 UMD), and the comedy Fired Up
(Screen Gems, $28.96 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, $24.94 UMD).

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Disney Bets Big on Phineas & Ferb

Disney is giving a major vote of confidence to its animated TV series Phineas & Ferb, picking up the show for a third season and preparing a Christmas special and CD release.

Speaking at the recent Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, Disney Channel entertainment president Gary Marsh suggested Phineas & Ferb will break out as the channel’s next worldwide hit franchise, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Joining the show’s third season as a recurring cast member is Jack McBrayer, who plays Kenneth on NBC’s hit comedy series 30 Rock.

The 35-episode order will bring the series, which airs on both Disney Channel and Disney XD, to a total of 100 segments.

The series, co-created by Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, is the top-rated primetime animated show for children 6-11 and 9-14.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Chuggington Arrives in U.S. on Disney Channel

Disney Channel has picked up the rights to the U.K. preschooler series Chuggington from Ludorum.

The series will launch on Disney Channel with 52 episodes in the spring of 2010.

The series has been a successful one around the world for Ludorum, having already been licensed in 145 territories. The series airs on BBC CBeebies in the United Kingdom, Super-RTL in Germany, TF1 in France, ABC in Australia and Treehouse in Canada.

Ludorum has commenced production this year on 26 new 10-minutes episodes, which also have been acquired for the U.K. by the BBC.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

"I Met The Walrus" wins grand prize at Banff fest

Josh Raskin's Oscar-nominated animated short "I Met The Walrus," the true story of an encounter with John Lennon, won the grand prize for best kids and animation show Monday night at the 30th Banff World Television Awards (also known as "The Rockies").

In addition,
I Met The Walrus was named best animated program in Sunday's ceremony. First screened in 2007, the short aired last year on Canadian arts channel Bravo!.

The five-minute independent film tells how, in 1969, a 14-year-old Beatles fanatic sneaked into Lennon's Toronto hotel room and convinced him to do an interview about peace for the school paper.

Other nominees in the animation programs category were
Jibber Jabber (Jibber Jabber Toons Ltd. for YTV Canada; Canada), Kid vs. Kat (Studio B Productions in association with YTV Canada and Jetix Europe; Canada), Life's a "2D or Not 2D" (Cuppa Coffee Studios for Teletoon Detour; Canada), My Second Life (Submarine for VPRO; Netherlands), Onchan (Hokkaido Television Broadcasting Co.; Japan) and The Fairly Oddparents: "Fairly OddBaby"
(MTV Networks/Nickelodeon; U.S.A.).

The awards were part of the Banff World Television Festival, which continues through Wednesday at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. International broadcasters, producers, writers, directors, distributors and industry executives from over 25 countries are attending.

Walt Disney Animation Collection, Vols. 1, 5 & 6: Classic Shorts on a Budget

Many of Disney's short animated films are classics of the medium, but Disney has, at best, had an inconsistent attitude about releasing them to home video. Some have been released in the collector-oriented Treasures tin boxes or as bonus features with full-length movies, but shorts-only releases have been a bit harder to come by. Disney seems to be taking another shot at getting this material out to the public with their "Animation Collection" line of DVDs, each of which package about an hour's worth of classic short films in a budget-priced package. The end results aren't the archival-quality releases of the Treasures editions, but they do collect some wonderful material that would otherwise go unseen. If nothing else, they're a fascinating window on a bygone era of animation, well before the age of computers, when absolutely everything was done by hand.

The first volume in this collection is Mickey and the Beanstalk, a half-hour presentation that puts Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy in the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. It comes with four additional animated shorts, half of them giant-themed, and all of them starring Mickey Mouse.

"Mickey and the Beanstalk", from 1947, was originally released as part of the compilation feature Fun and Fancy Free. The version on this DVD, though, comes from 1963, when Ludwig von Drake replaced Edgar Bergen as a narrator in a TV broadcast of the short. This introduction, which features short clips from such Disney features as Snow White, Pinocchio, and Cinderella, has von Drake dismissing the beliefs of a small bug named Herman, who thinks that fairy tales are real. The pair also appear at the conclusion and wind up experiencing some amusing, literal fourth-wall breaking.

The actual story of Jack and the Beanstalk is more about fun and fantasy than complex storytelling, so re-imagining it with Disney's most famous trio in the lead roles is an easy translation that gives the original story a new life and humor. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy begin as poor farmers in a land made barren by the disappearance of a golden harp. After a few gags involving the gang trying to solve their hunger problems, Mickey acquires certain magic beans, and the adventure begins. They find that the missing harp is being held captive by a shape-shifting giant named Willie, who is the textbook definition of oafish, and have to thwart him to get the harp back. It's a timeless classic, with a gorgeous environment, good humor, and the same eternal feeling as the fairy tale it's adapted from.

The companion shorts are equally charming. In
"The Brave Little Tailor", Mickey is a tailor whose story about vanquishing a group of flies, when misinterpreted, convinces the king that this tailor can rid the land of a menacing giant. It's a cute story with a clever ending. In "Gulliver Mickey," on the other hand, Mickey is the giant that a group of small villagers fear. The fantasy theme continues in the vibrant "Thru The Mirror", which has Mickey falling asleep and dreaming himself through his bedroom mirror, where living household objects either dance with him or attack him.

The final short, though, has no discernable thematic tie to giants or to fantasy.
"Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip" is about Mickey trying to smuggle Pluto aboard a train that doesn't allow dogs while evading Pete, the suspicious ticket taker.

Volume 5 of the series is one of the fuller DVDs in the set, with 6 shorts clocking in at nearly 74 minutes.

The title cartoon of Volume 5 is 1949's "The Wind in the Willows," a delightful adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic. It starts well with Basil Rathbone's dryly witty narration, and continuing through its memorable cast of characters, with the amiable but dim Mr. Toad being one of the great British upper-class twits of cinema history. The pacing seems a bit slow by modern standards, with a 30-minute running time that feels a bit padded out by trivialities, but the artistry of the short just can't be beat. If nothing else, one can marvel at the gorgeous watercolor backgrounds. This short was originally released alongside an adaptation of Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and was the last of the animated features which combined multiple, often unrelated shorts rather than telling a single continuous narrative.

The fifth volume comes with five additional shorts, giving it a running time of nearly 74 minutes. Animal tales seem to be the unstated theme of this DVD.

"The Ugly Duckling," from 1938, adapts the famous Hans Christen Andersen fable, but without narration or words of any kind. The whole thing stands as testament to the Disney studio's skill at character animation, since the entire thing is as endearing as its title character (who eventually seems to have reappeared more than 60 years later in Lilo & Stitch, of all places). If anything, the lead is a little bit too endearing, to the point of making the title inaccurate. This film deservedly won the 1939 Academy Award for Best Animated Short.

"The Grasshopper and the Ants" (1934) is a presentiment of Disney adaptations to come, as it gives Aesop's fable about the value of hard work a happier ending. The animation style is a bit more old-school than the other shorts on this disc, with the same sort of jittery movement you see in shorts like "Steamboat Willie," but it's still quite effective. It also happened to introduce the song "The World Owes Me a Living," which would eventually become Goofy's theme song.

The ancient Greek myth of King Midas is retold in 1935's
"The Golden Touch," albeit after a mysterious translation to a medieval European setting. It's effective enough for what it is, although this short seems to suffer even more than the others at the demands of modern pacing. Even at a trim 10 minutes, it seems a bit padded out, especially when we know exactly where it's going.

"The Robber Kitten" (1935) is probably the weakest of the shorts on the disc, mostly because it has ultimately has very little point: a youthful kitten brags and boasts of his thefts, unaware that his companion is a real brigand. It's cute, but rather lightweight.

Finally, 1934's
"The Wise Little Hen" is a quick trifle that's done mostly through song, with a hen and her brood of chicks planting and harvesting a corn crop with no help from and a very early Donald Duck. The punch line is visible from a mile off, but it's still amusing enough to watch.

Volume 6 contains four more shorts, winners all:

The headline feature is 1941's "The Reluctant Dragon," another Kenneth Grahame adaptation, this time from his children's book about a dragon who would rather hold tea parties and recite poetry than battle knights and eat princesses. Luckily, he meets his perfect match in Sir Giles; with the help of an initially skeptical child, the trio manage to pull the wool over eyes of a town that is expecting a battle royale. It's delightful from start to finish, even though it also underscores the difference in pacing between then and now. This short was originally released as part of a larger film, which took audiences behind the scenes at the Disney studios.

Other shorts on the DVD include
"Ferdinand the Bull" (1938), an adaptation of the children's classic by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson. The one is more faithful in spirit to its original than some Disney adaptations have been, even though the visual style is radically different from Lawson's intricate drawings. This short is also a textbook case on how to make changes to adapt a book to film (and animation specifically), and on the strengths of one medium vs. another. The "bullfight" that forms the centerpiece of this short is a wonderful piece of animation that's just a page in the book. This was another Oscar winner, for Best Animated Short in 1938.

"Goliath II" (1959) is an adorable fable about a 6-inch tall elephant who learns his value to the larger herd, with wonderful narration by the inimitable Sterling Holloway. It's not too special as a story, but extremely interesting as a bit of animation history. The movie sits between Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians, and forms a neat bridge between the two. The beautiful backgrounds are highly reminiscent of Walt Peregoy's unforgettable work on the former film, but the characters are animated using the Xerox process of the latter film, complete with scratchy lines and occasional guide pencil work visible in the finished product. Unfortunately, this is also the worst-restored short on the disc, with noticeable color flickering for most of the movie.

"Johnny Appleseed" (1948) is a short about the classic figure of American folklore, which is probably more interesting now for the many things that Disney wouldn't do today. It's a showcase for the talents of radio star Dennis Day (second banana to Jack Benny for decades), it makes many explicit references to Johnny's Christian faith that just wouldn't make it into a contemporary film. This is something of a shame, since the movie is charming and is a perfect example of how to integrate faith into a short without making it feel like cheap proselytizing.

Many of these shorts have appeared on earlier Treasures editions or other Disney DVDs (like the now-defunct
"It's a Small World of Fun" line). As noted, many aren't in particularly good shape, with some showing washed out colors and all exhibiting noticeable film grain. However, none are in such bad shape as to be unwatchable, with the possible exception of "Goliath II"
on Vol. 6. All the shorts are in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, and the "Dolby Digital Surround Sound" advertised on the packaging sounds suspiciously like plain stereo, if not mono. There are no chapter stops within any of the shorts, which is not a problem for the shorter ones but can be a bit annoying for those clocking in at over 20 minutes. As budget-oriented DVDs, these releases have no extras other than trailers, although current volumes are shipping with "collectible litho prints," which are mostly large stills from the title short. The price is definitely right for these entertaining little collections of short films.

Why the animated Rio is Ice Age director Carlos Saldanha's dream project

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Carlos Saldanha, who is developing the animated feature Rio, told SCI FI Wire that the Brazilian-themed story will be more musical than his comedic Ice Age movies. Saldanha co-directed Ice Age and stepped up to lead director of Ice Age: The Meltdown and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

"It's a complete different [tone]," Saldanha said in an exclusive interview Monday in Santa Monica, Calif., after a press conference for Dawn of the Dinosaurs. "This is more colorful, has a lot of music and fun elements to it."

The lead characters in Rio are birds, unlike the terrestrial mammoths, sloths and saber-toothed tigers of Ice Age. "Brazil cannot live without birds," Saldanha added.

Singing birds would sound just as wild as talking mammoths, but Saldanha clarified his musical idea. "It's not a musical, but music is a great part of the story, because you cannot think about Brazil without thinking about music," he said. "So we're going to make sure that music is part of it. It's not even going to be Brazilian music. It's going to have a little more fun with music as part of the story, as part of the character's arc."

Rio is still in development and is the Brazilian-born Saldanha's dream project. "That is still in the works, but I'm from Brazil originally, so I always wanted to make a story about Brazil and all the stuff, so I started to develop the story a few years back," he said. The film is eyeing a 2011 release.

Review: Before the Transformers get their Revenge, check out The Complete First Season on DVD

Long before they served as a hyper-mechanized backdrop for Megan Fox's glistening, suntanned abdomen, the Transformers were toys, animated and hand-drawn characters, and the basis for a beloved and inspiring childhood mythology. Created in 1984 via a multimedia blitz of Marvel comics, Hasbro action figures and half-hour cartoons, they became instant pop-culture icons and subsequently spawned an animated feature, multiple generations of characters and, eventually, two live-action films directed by Michael Bay.

In anticipation of the forthcoming Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Shout Factory has re-released Transformers: The Complete First Season on DVD. A collection of season-one episodes available several times over thanks to many, many different releases, the set is effectively timed and suitably comprehensive, but it reveals few new or different details about the mythology of the franchise, making this a collection better suited for uninitiated viewers than longtime fans.

The Complete First Season features all 16 of the season-one episodes, including the multipart sagas "More Than Meets the Eye" and "The Ultimate Doom." In terms of presentation, the episodes have been restored to full broadcast length, although it isn't often clear where material has been re-inserted. Blame my faulty memory for Transformers minutiae if you like, but the real reason the "new" footage is indistinguishable from the old (or previously available) is because the mastering quality of the episodes is consistently average or mediocre.

As a fan who purchased the original Rhino Season One Collector's Edition in 2002, I compared the picture quality of the two releases, and one isn't significantly better than the other; worse yet, if I had to pick one over the other, I'd probably choose the '02 set, because the animation cels look more stable, the color quality is more consistent and the images are simply cleaner. Additionally, the '02 set featured a 5.1 audio mix, including a hefty bass track, while this one appears to offer only two-track stereo.

As far as the episodes themselves are concerned, despite the imagination that it took back in 1984 to come up with an entire (literal) universe, the storylines are all pretty one-dimensional: Megatron and the Decepticons try to transform the Earth's resources into Energon cubes, Optimus Prime and the Autobots roll out to stop him, and cliffhanger fight scenes ensue. That said, there's something charmingly quaint about such basic plotting, if only because—like most childhood toys—it recalls a simpler time for kid entertainment, even if it doesn't quite hold up to today's standards. But generally speaking the episodes are satisfying enough to sustain at least one or two viewings, as long as you have something else to occupy your time while you're watching them, anyway.

In terms of extras, the three-disc set offers little in the way of new material, especially for hardcore fans. Included on Disc 3 is a printable script, a rare PSA featuring Bumblebee, archival Hasbro toy commercials and the featurette
"Triple Changer: From Toy to Comic to Screen—The Origins of The Transformers." The featurette offers some thorough but basic background information on the creation of the toys and the series, complete with testimonials from series creators and toy designers, but of everything discussed, the most interesting detail that emerges is one of the creators' acknowledgment that they were aware of if not interested in beating Gobots—another childhood favorite—to the punch, commercially speaking. Meanwhile, the toy ads are a fun trip down memory lane, and the PSA is most memorable because Bumblebee says "knowing is half the battle," a subtle if deliberate reference to one of G.I. Joe's trademarked lines.

Just for comparison, the 2002 Rhino set also offered an original script (
"Transport to Oblivion," the same as on the Shout edition), bumper ads, animation outtakes, animation tests, a look at Rhino's remastering process, the opening credits of the Japanese version of the show, two animation cels and the featurette "A Taste of Botcon 2001." Mind you, those extras may or may not provide any additional or more substantial background or insights into the world of The Transformers, but they're no worse, and they were produced when the commercial prospects of the show were still unconfirmed. Transformers: The Complete Season One
arrives in stores building on the success of that first set, as well as many others, and not one but two live-action movies; in other words, whether or not you're committed to the cult of Cybertron, this set feels like an unnecessary rehash of the same material rather than the ultimate realization of a collection you've been building since, well, before Megan Fox's abs even existed.

It’s Time to Watch Prosser’s Clockwork

You probably spotted Clockwork over at, and if so, it’s worth a second look. Royal College of Art student David Prosser created this delicate story of a father and son in a mining town, and it’s filled with gorgeous layouts, strong character design and a soundtrack that should be enjoyed with headphones.

Clockwork from David Prosser on Vimeo.

At the House of Ears

Back from vacation, back in the saddle, and back at the Disney Animation Studio, stumbling from room to cubicle.

And as I stumble, work on Princess and the Frog is wending its way to a conclusion. Staff tells me:

"Rough animation and rough layout are pretty well done on P and F. Rough animation is 95% finished ..."

"The last sequence going through is being animated with clean, tight drawings, and the inbetweening done in-house. They're not doing cleanup on it ..."

"Most of the supervising animators on
Princess and the Frog have been picked up for the next project" ...

Rapunzel is going into animation the last part of the year. It's a musical, and they're going to have fairly short production schedule like they did on Bolt. Glen Keane is still the executive producer, and I think he could be supervising some animation, but I've just heard that could be happening. Don't know if it actually is" ...

I walked through the layout department and discovered the crew shrank while I was off in the mountains. One room was missing half its artists, another had a bunch of empty desks. Two artists mentioned it was their "last week of work."

I told them I hoped that the next hand-drawn project got rolling soon.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Smith Micro Updates Anime Studio Pro

Anime Studio Pro 6, a powerful new version of the Smith Micro software animation application, is available starting today.

Version 6 speeds up production time with features such as motion tracking, built-in lip-synching, vector-based drawing tools, bone-rigging and importation of scanned images. It also includes a full library of characters, props, action words, stock video, images and sound effects.

Anime Studio Pro 6

Additional features include:

• Scatter Brush, which allows painting with vectors while controlling the size and spacing of each individual object to create seemingly random fills such as grass, bubbles or stars.
• Scripting with LUA 5.1, providing more power to create unique tools and plug-ins.
• Auto Shading, which creates realistic shading based on lines and object contrast within each layer creating stylistic 3D effects.
• Create, save and blend morph targets to combine character expressions and emotions. Save and reuse previous poses and character positions.
• Easily adjust the timing and synchronization of audio and video tracks by utilizing the simple timeline. Mix and match audio, video, images and animated components to create digital shorts and animations
• HD video support and professional output.

Anime Studio Pro 6 is available at the suggested retail price of $199.99, with upgrades available from $129.99. The software can be ordered direct from Smith Micro at, and from software outlets.

Anime Studio Pro 6

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Fleischer Studios illustrator Jean Godwin dies, 88

Jean Matthews Godwin, an illustrator for Fleischer Studios in Miami, died peacefully in her sleep June 2 at her Knoxville, Tennessee home. She was 88.

A graduate of Ponce de Leon High School and the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, she worked on the 1939 Fleischer feature film Gulliver's Travels, as well as the studio's Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor series.

Born in Dayton, Ohio on July 23, 1920 to Thurman and Florence Staeger Matthews, she moved with the family to Coral Gables, Florida in 1932.

She worked for prestigious Miami interior designer Haygood Lassiter, who decorated President Harry S Truman's "Little White House" in Key West.

While volunteering at the Veterans Hospital (Biltmore Hotel) at the end of the Second World War, she met Harold T. Godwin, a decorated veteran. They married in 1947, had two sons and lived in Coral Gables until retiring to Missouri and later Knoxville.

A past president of the Biltmore Heights Garden Club of Coral Gables, she was active in the city's beautification projects.

Besides her husband, Jean Godwin is survived by sons Rodney and Kenneth Godwin, both of Knoxville; grandsons Andrew and Brian; and sister Margaret Matthews Burgess of Coral Gables.

A graveside service was held Monday morning at Miami Memorial Park.

"D'Oh!" wins battle of the kids' TV catchphrases

"D'Oh!" is Britain's favorite children's television catchphrase, according to a poll of 7,431 adults conducted by TheBabyWebsite.

Homer Simpson's classic curse, which was written as "annoying grunt" in the script of The Simpsons, was first used in a short episode on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1989. It soon became his trademark and is occasionally used by Bart, Lisa and Grampa as well.

"D'Oh!" was even added into The New Oxford Dictionary of English in 1998 with the definition "used to comment on an action perceived as foolish or stupid" -- and was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001.

The Simpsons scored another catchphrase in the top 10 with "Eat my shorts," ranked in 18th place.

TV fans placed Fred Flintstone's
"Yabba Dabba Doo!" in second.

Fred's catchphrase, said to be originally derived from the Brylcreem advertising jingle motto
"A Little Dab'll Do Ya!"
, was heard regularly during the six years that The Flintstones aired.

"We were really surprised by how many of the catchphrases have stood the test of time,"
said Nigel Crawford, whose TheBabyWebsite ordered the research.

's "By the power of Grayskull!" takes sixth place in the poll, while "What's up, Doc?" by Bugs Bunny is in 10th place.

Other cartoon catchphrases in the top 20: "I taught I taw a puddy tat" (Tweety on
Looney Tunes; #11), "Oh my God, they killed Kenny!" (South Park; #12), "If it wasn't for you meddling kids" (Scooby-Doo; #14), "Can we fix it, yes we can!" (Bob the Builder; #15), "Is it a bird, is it a plane… no, it's Superman! (Superman; #16); and Cowabunga Dude (Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles; #20).

The top catchphrase from a live-action show was the Daleks' "Exterminate!" from
Doctor Who
, coming third overall in the poll.

Disney Art at NOMA

Here’s an early heads up, The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) will host a special installation of Disney animation art on November 15th to tie-in with the release of The Princess And The Frog.

Dreams Come True: Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studio will present over 600 pieces of original production art, displayed in separate rooms dedicated exclusively to Silly Symphonies, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and the Frog.

This special exhibit will only be in New Orleans from Nov 15 to March 15, 2010 (there will be a fundraising gala on Saturday evening, November 14th). For more information check the NOMA website.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Boston Globe on Pixar's Success and the Hollywood Studio System

The Boston Globe has published a feature article examining how Pixar's techinques for continuing success with critics and audiences can trace their lineage back to the heyday of the Hollywood Studio Era ("a period roughly coinciding with the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, 1933-1945"). Writer Mark Feeny notes that, "what most distinguished Studio Era Hollywood was a devotion to three principles: a corporate approach to creativity, being in it for the long haul (rather than just a one-weekend killing), and reaching every part of the moviegoing public," to which Pixar has added "unfailing creativity and innovative use of computer technology," which leads to their success. Several Pixar employees also discuss the environment at Pixar, including Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) and Pete Docter (Monsters Inc., Up).

Briefly: Digital Domain's Keith Sintay Profile; Ben 10 vs. Ofcom

* The Detroit Free Press has profiled Digital Domain animator Keith Sintay from a "directionless kid" from Livonia to a top animator whose portfolio includes Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, DreamWorks' Shark Tale, and Sony's Open Season and Surf's Up.

* Cartoon Network has run afoul of British media watchdog Ofcom for violating regulations governing ads for merchandising by sponsoring episodes of Ben 10: Alien Force with the tie-in video game. []

Nick Franchises Strong in Recession; Hints at Blu-ray and "Avatar" Complete Set

Home Media Magazine has taken a look at how Nickelodeon's strong franchises, such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer, have helped it weather the current economic downturn, with DVDs like SpongeBob vs. the Big One and Dora and the Three Little Pigs performing strongly in the market. The article notes new franchises and old favorites coming to DVD soon, including The Backyardigans, Ni Hao, Kai-lan, and Olivia. The article also states that Nancy Rachman, VP of home entertainment for Nickelodeon’s kids and family group, "hinted at the possibility of an Avatar complete collection boxed set, possibly this year" to tie in with the live-action adaptation scheduled to hit movie screens in 2010, and that "Nickelodeon is working with Paramount to decide if any Nickelodeon titles will make sense for Blu-ray Disc."

New Poster For '9'

FSR has the exclusive first look at one of the strangest looking animated films to hit theaters in a while.

9 is a feature-length expansion of Mr. Acker’s short film of the same name. The action-packed tale takes place in a world parallel to our own, in which the very legacy of humanity is threatened. A community of fully mobile rag dolls living a post-apocalyptic existence find one of their own, 9 (Mr. Wood), displaying leadership qualities that may help them to survive. The conflicted but resilient community includes 1 (Mr. Plummer), a domineering war veteran; 2 (Mr. Landau), an aged inventor; 5 (Mr. Reilly), a stalwart mechanic; 6 (Mr. Glover), a visionary and artist; and 7 (Ms. Connelly), a brave warrior.

Click on the image below to see it really big!

EXCLUSIVE: Robert Rodriguez Says His Live-Action ‘Jetsons’ Movie Will Begin Filming Next Year

Robert Rodriguez has a lot on his directorial plate. He’s rebooting the “Predator” franchise, he’s gearing up for another go at “Sin City,” he’s pushing forward with a “Grindhouse” spin-off called “Machete” and he’s prepping the sci-fi thriller “Nerverackers.” So we were pretty surprised to hear during a recent conversation with the director about one project he’s hoping to launch as soon as next year: a live-action adaptation of “The Jetsons.”

Rodriguez’s updated take on the futuristic ‘60s-era cartoon has been rumored for awhile, but with all of the other films that Rodriguez is attempting to undertake it seemed quite possible that an ambitious new
would remain on the backburner. Not so, as the man himself told MTV News.

“I’ve been developing [The Jetsons] for awhile,” Rodriguez said, adding that he’s hoping to start shooting “next year.”

While the director did confirm that the film would be live-action, he was predictably mum about other details. Adam F. Goldberg (”Fanboys”) penned an early draft of the script, but it has since been reworked.

“We’re writing the script right now,” Rodriguez said excitedly, before declining to drop any hints about the plot or potential casting choices.

So there you have it. “The Jetsons” is gonna happen — and a lot sooner than you probably thought. And we’ll just be left to speculate about potential casting choices for George Jetson, his boy Elroy, daughter Judy, Jane his wife, as well as George’s ill-tempered boss Mr. Spacely and the family’s robot housekeeper Rosie.

Mickey Rourke as WHIPLASH in IRON MAN 2! Come see! Come see!

The good folks over at USA Today look to have gotten our exclusive first look at Mickey Rourke as Whiplash in Iron Man 2! Take a peek below!

I've heard through the grapevine that this scene is crazy and Rourke establishes himself as someone Tony Stark might have some trouble with. I know I wouldn't want to run into this EASTERN PROMISES tattooed creepy hulk of a man in a dark alley somewhere.

I also like that they're veering away from having a totally armored bad guy so we're not just rinse-wash-repeating the last film. I personally can't wait to get a glimpse of the whips in action.

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