Monday, June 29, 2009

News - 06/29/09...

Transformers 2 kills in its opening five days with $200M

Alien robots have transformed into box-office superstars with $200 million in ticket sales domestically in just five days.

There's apparently no stopping those giant freaking robots: Michael Bay's much-hyped sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen raked in an estimated $200 million in ticket sales domestically in just five days, the Associated Press reported.

That includes $112 million domestically in the sequel's first weekend and $201.2 million since opening Wednesday. For its first five days, that puts the Transformers sequel second only to last summer's The Dark Knight, with $203.8 million.

This was the biggest opening weekend of the year, surpassing the $85.1 million debut of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in early May.

The sequel began with $60.6 million in its opening day Wednesday.

Disney's Floyd E. Norman speaks in San Bernardino

Pioneer African-American cartoonist and animator Floyd E. Norman, who worked on projects at Disney when Walt Disney was head of the studio, will speak next Wednesday, July 1 at The Art Institute of California-Inland Empire in San Bernardino.

At 12 noon, Norman will talk about his work as a story artist and animator at Disney and Pixar, as well as many other studios where he has worked.

Born in 1936, Norman worked as an in-betweener and animator on Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone and The Jungle Book, along with various animated short projects at Disney in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

After Walt Disney's death in 1966, he left Disney to co-found the AfroKids animation studio with animator-director Leo Sullivan. Norman and Sullivan worked together on various projects, including the original Hey! Hey! Hey! It's Fat Albert television special, which aired in 1969 on NBC.

Norman returned to Disney in the early 1970s to work on Robin Hood (1973). He was a layout artist on Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch (1974), an animator on Jabberjaw (1976), character designer and key layout artist on The New Fred and Barney Show (1979), and key layout artist on The Kwicky Koala Show (1981).

More recently, he has worked on Toy Story 2 (1999) and Monsters, Inc. (2001) for Pixar and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) and Mulan (1998) for Disney. He continues to work for the Walt Disney Company as a consultant on various projects.

Norman has also published several books of cartoons inspired by his lifetime of experiences in the animation industry: Faster! Cheaper!, Son of Faster, Cheaper! and How The Grinch Stole Disney.

A columnist for and, he was named a Disney Legend in 2007.

The event will be in Rooms 161 and 162 of 630 East Brier Drive in San Bernardino. Admission is free.

Cartoon Network/Adult Swim Announce Comic-Con Schedule

Cartoon Network and Adult Swim will be having a strong presence at this year’s Comic-Con. The cabler announced its healthy slate of panels, fan events and special signings at the event (July 23-July 27) today. Included in the festivities are Robot Chicken/Titan Maximum panels, a sneak peak of Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, and programs devoted to Chowder, The Misadentures of Flapjack, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ben 10, The Venture Bros. and the new movie, Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins.

Adventure Time with Finn and Jake

Here is the complete schedule of events (all subject to change):


ADULT SWIM: Robot Chicken w/ Titan Maximum
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Location: 6A

Moderator: Keith Crofford, vice president of production Adult Swim
Seth Green (co-creator, Robot Chicken and Titan Maximum), Matthew Senreich (co-creator, Robot Chicken and Titan Maximum), Tom Root (head writer, Robot Chicken/co-creator, Titan Maximum) and Doug Goldstein (head writer, Robot Chicken) with Chris McKay, Breckin Meyer, Kevin Shinick, Mike Fasolo and Dan Milano discuss the popular Adult Swim series Robot Chicken. They also discuss the upcoming new stop-motion animated series Titan Maximum, slated to premiere on Adult Swim this fall.

Robot Chicken

4:15 – 5:15 p.m.
Location: Room 6A

Moderator: Brian Miller, senior vice president and general manager Cartoon Network Studios
Come join us for a panel celebrating three of the best comedies from Cartoon Network Studios. First up is a sweet treat with Chowder, including special guests C.H. Greenblatt (creator), Tara Strong (voice of Truffles), Dwight Schultz (voice of Mung Daal), and Dana Snyder (voice of Gazpacho). Then set sail with The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and creator Thurop Van Orman (voice of Flapjack) and Steve Little (writer, voice of fan favorite Dr. Barber). Finally, hold on to your seats for a sneak peak of the new series, Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, with creator Pendelton Ward.


10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Location: 6B

Moderator: Sam Register, executive producer
Gotham takes over San Diego as Diedrich Bader (Surf's Up), the voice of Batman, returns to headline a panel alongside executive producer Sam Register (Teen Titans), producer James Tucker (Justice League Unlimited), producer and story editor Michael Jelenic (The Batman) and voice director Andrea Romano (Superman Doomsday). Fans will enjoy a discussion and lively Q&A as this dynamic and creative team look back upon the show's incredible first season and provide an exclusive look at what season two holds for the Caped Crusader.

LUCAS PANEL: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Building the Universe
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: 7 AB

The Clone Wars expanded the scope of Star Wars beyond anything seen in the feature films—but Season One was just the beginning. Get a rare glimpse into the epic scale of the ongoing galactic conflict with supervising director Dave Filoni and key production staff from the series. Find out insider secrets about building the Star Wars galaxy, making the first season of the groundbreaking series and what’s to come in Season 2!

LUCAS PANEL: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Behind the mic
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Location: 7 AB

Season Two of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is coming in hot, and you can believe that the talented voice cast has something to say about it! Join supervising director Dave Filoni as he talks with the actors behind your favorite Clone Wars characters, and get an intimate look at the animated antics inside the recording studio and what’s ahead in Season 2.

4:45 – 5:45 p.m.
Location: Room 6A

Cult comedy favorite and BAFTA-nominated, The Mighty Boosh, comes to Comic-Con for the first time to celebrate the airing of all three seasons on Adult Swim, and the BBC’s DVD release, just two days before the convention begins. Inspired by the Perrier Comedy Award-winning live comedy show, creators-stars Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, along with actors Michael Fielding, Rich Fulcher and Dave Brown, will be on stage to discuss the world of The Boosh.

LUCAS PANEL: The Star Wars Spectacular
5:15 – 6:15 p.m.
Location: Hall H

Get all the latest news from the Star Wars universe, including some of Lucasfilm’s most tightly-guarded secrets! Join our galaxy of guests from The Clone Wars and beyond, including supervising director Dave Filoni, voice talent from the show and more!


11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Location: ROOM 6DE

Moderator: Tramm Wigzell director of development, original series Cartoon Network
It’s all about Ben 10 at this panel featuring director Alex Winter and cast members from the live-action movie Ben 10: Alien Swarm coming this fall on Cartoon Network. Also appearing are Ben 10 Alien Force producer Glenn Murakami, story editor Dwayne McDuffie and Yuri Lowenthal (voice of Ben). Make sure not to miss an exclusive look at what’s coming next with a sneak peak of Generator Rex and the first images from the upcoming series, Sym-Bionic Titan, by creator Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory).

ADULT SWIM: Series Development and The Venture Bros.
6:00 – 7:15 p.m.
Location: 6DE

Moderator: Keith Crofford, vice president of production Adult Swim
Fans will get the chance to hear from the Adult Swim development team and get a first look at upcoming Adult Swim programming. Nick Weidenfeld, director of development for Adult Swim and Matt Harrigan, executive producer/series writer for Adult Swim will give highlights of what’s in the tube for fall 2009. Then, Jackson Publick (co-creator), Doc Hammer (co-creator), Jon Schnepp (co-director), James Urbaniak (voice of Dr. Venture) and Mike Sinterniklaas (voice of Dean Venture) discuss the hit animated Adult Swim series The Venture Bros. and give fans insight into the future of the series.

The Venture Bros.

WB PANEL: Zoinks! Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins
12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Location: 6DE

Come join everyone’s favorite Great Dane as Warner Premiere & Cartoon Network present Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins. The all-new, live-action/CGI film reveals the origins of the Mystery Inc. gang on their first mission together. Be the first to witness the film, then stay for a fun-filled panel featuring director Brian Levant (Beethoven, Snow Dogs), producer Brian Gilbert (Wrong Turn, Skinwalkers) and introducing the all-new live-action cast: Robbie Amell (Life With Derek, True Jackson VP) as Fred, Kate Melton as Daphne, Hayley Kiyoko as Velma and Nick Palatas as Shaggy. Also expected to attend is Frank Welker, a member of the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! voice-cast, who provides the voice of Scooby-Doo for Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins, which will premiere on Cartoon Network and be distributed by Warner Home Video in Fall 2009.

Adult Swim Booth: 3351

Friday, July 24
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Robot Chicken Signing
With Seth Green, Matt Senreich, Breckin Meyer, Chris McKay

Saturday, July 25
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Robot Chicken Signing
With Seth Green, Matt Senreich, Doug Goldstein and Tom Root

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
The Venture Bros. Singing
Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer

Saturday, July 25, 8 – 11p.m.
Location: Skate San Diego


Thursday, July 23, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Chowder & The Misadventures of Flapjack Signing - Autograph Alley
C.H. Greenblatt, Tara Strong, Dana Snyder, Thurop Van Orman, Steve Little

Saturday, July 25, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Ben 10 Alien Force Signing - Autograph Alley
Glen Murakami, Yuri Lowenthal, Dwight McDuffie

Sunday, July 26, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins Signing - WB Booth
Robbie Amell, Kate Melton, Hayley Kiyoko, Nick Palatas

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Thomas Hauls £1 Million for Autism

The U.K.’s National Autistic Society has announced that its partnership with HIT Entertainment’s Thomas & Friends brand has helped raise over a million pounds (approx. 1.65 million USD)¬. The collaboration began in 2001 when HIT granted Thomas’ image rights to the NAS, and the two organizations have since orchestrated numerous fundraising initiatives involving the brand. Early this month, NAS launched the first Train Walk—a series of sponsored walks themed on the Thomas & Friends property which took place across the country, attracting over 4,500 supporters, parents and children and raising funds and awareness for the cause.

Thomas the Tank Engine and his trainyard friends seem to have a special appeal to autistic children: A 2007 study conducted by NAS and HIT reveled that 98.8% of parents of these children consider their kids fans of the brand. As Victoria Bushell, brand manager for Thomas at HIT Ent. says, Thomas & Friends holds a very special place in the hearts of young children and their families. We are delighted to be working with the NAS who continue amazing work in reaching out and supporting families of children with autism.”

As for the amazing million-pound mark Thomas has helped achieve, NAS chief executive Mark Lever hopes it’s just the beginning: “We are delighted that the support of Thomas & Friends continues to help us make a difference to the over half a million people affected by autism in the U.K. today.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Top 10 Anime Properties of Spring 2009

According to iItalicnterviews with retailers, distributors, and manufacturers, here are the top ten Region 1 anime properties for spring 2009, through all channels:

1) Afro Samurai Resurrection
2) Naruto
3) Dragon Ball Z
4) Ouran High School Host Club
5) Cowboy Bebop Remix
6) Yu Yu Hakusho
7) Fullmetal Alchemist
8) Pokemon
9) Bleach
10) Code Geass

Details Announced for 13th and Final "Gathering of the Gargoyles" Convention

Details have been released for the 13th Annual "Gathering of the Gargoyles" convention, which will also be the last gathering of fans and creators of the Gargoyles TV series. This year's convention will be held between August 21-24, 2009, at the Hilton in Universal City in California. Special guests this year will include show creator Greg Weisman and actors Marina Sirtis (Demona), Keith David (Goliath), Bill Fagerbakke (Broadway), Thom Adcox (Lexington), and Elisa Gabrielli (Obsidiana). Registration is currently open now at the Gathering of the Gargoyles website.

The full announcement follows:

Gathering 2009 Newsletter #8 – June 23, 2009

In this issue: Marina Sirtis! Guest Update! Hotel Reminder! Dates to Remember!

All good things…

From 1997 to 2009, the fans of Gargoyles have pulled together to celebrate the show we love so much. Our camaraderie has been a joy and an inspiration. In the twelve years since that first small convention in New York City, many of us have forged lifelong friendships, grown both personally and professionally, and taken away unique experiences from the phenomenon that is Gargoyles fandom.

But, just as a gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air, eventually all good things must come to an end.

We, the fans, have all taken Gargoyles full circle. It is with bittersweet regret that the staff of The Gathering of the Gargoyles announces that this year's convention will be the last. Thirteen conventions have made for a run lasting longer than many of us ever imagined when we gathered for the first time in 1997, and for that we should all be very proud. But do not despair, as we are most certainly going out with a bang!

We are very happy – no, we are ecstatic – to announce that joining us for our final outing will be none other than the voice of Demona herself, Marina Sirtis! She joins an all-star guest list that already includes Gargoyles voice actors Keith David (Goliath), Bill Fagerbakke (Broadway), Thom Adcox (Lexington), and Elisa Gabrielli (Obsidiana). And lest we forget, Greg Weisman, the creator of the show, will be joining us, as well, along with at least a dozen other guests from the Gargoyles writing and production team.

So please join us in our last hurrah, our shout in the night, our 13th Annual and final Gathering of the Gargoyles. This will be the one to remember. This will be your last chance to experience The Gathering before it's all over for good. It's not too late to grab it. Let's make this a party to remember!

To register, visit: http://www.gatheringofthegargoyles.c...istration.html

Convention Guest Update:

As revealed above, The Gathering of the Gargoyles is delighted to announce that Marina Sirtis, voice of Demona on Gargoyles and Star Trek: The Next Generation's Counselor Deanna Troi, will be one of our many special guests!

Newly confirmed special guests from Gargoyles and The Spectacular Spider-Man also include:

Bill Fagerbakke - Voice of Broadway (G)
Vanessa Marshall - Voice of Mary Jane Watson (S)
Joey Mason - Color Supervisor / Background Painter (G)
Doug Murphy - Storyboard Artist (G)
Daran Norris - Voice of J. Jonah Jameson (S)

Our complete guest list now features over 30 industry professionals, with even more to be announced in the coming weeks! As always, for complete details, please visit:


Hotel Information:

The Gathering 2009 will take place August 21-24, 2009 at the fabulous Hilton in Universal City, located at the main entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk!

Hilton Los Angeles / Universal City
555 Universal Hollywood Drive
Universal City, California, 91608
Telephone: 1-818-506-2500
Toll free: 1-800-HILTONS

The Hilton is offering a block rate of $159 per night (double occupancy) to Gathering attendees who call for reservations by July 23, 2009. Please mention that you are with "The Gathering of the Gargoyles" when calling to receive this special rate. For more information and a link for online reservations, please visit:

The Hilton has informed us that our room block is filling up fast, so please don't delay in making your plans to join us!

Dates to Remember:

July 23, 2009 – Deadline for hotel reservations at the Hilton Los Angeles / Universal City to receive the Gathering's discounted block rate.
July 31, 2009 – Final day of pre-registration.
August 7, 2009 – Deadline for Music Video Contest submissions.
August 21 – 24, 2009 – The 13th Annual Gathering of the Gargoyles.

Questions? Comments? Contact us at:

- The Gathering 2009 Staff

Briefly: New "Guardians of Luna" Site; "Animation in Process"; "Get Stoked" Tour

* A new pre-launch site for the revamped Guardians of Luna is now open at A mailing list is available on the site for those interested in ongoing updates.

* Andrew Selby will be publishing a new book in September 2009 titled Animation in Process, which will show "how artists, designers, filmmakers, programmers, directors, writers, and producers have seized the chance to entertain using a versatile and compelling medium." [AWN]

* TELETOON has announced their plans for the Get Stoked Tour, which will be traveling throughout Canada from June 25 - Aug 7, 2009 to promote the debut of the new animated series Stoked. [Press Release]

Stanchfield "Drawn to Life" Panel at San Diego Comic Con '09 and Don Hahn will be hosting a special panel at this year's San Diego Comic Con International dedicated to the recently published Drawn to Life two-volume set, edited by Hahn and publishing the animation lectures of master animator Walt Stanchfield. The panel will be held on July 23, 2009, from 12:00 - 1:00 PM at Room 32AB in the San Diego Convention Center. Hahn will moderate the panel, which will also host panelists Glen Keane, Eric Goldberg, Tom Sito, and Ruben Procopio.

Michael Jackson Animation on South Park

Thriller and Off the Wall are undoubtedly some of the best albums of all-time (Rolling Stone puts them at #20 and #68), but I’ll never forget South Park’s ruthless 2004 Michael Jackson episode, The Jeffersons. Here’s a clip that features Cartman and Jackson singing on a miniature train. We’ll miss you Mr. Jackson… I mean Jefferson. Watch the full episode at

Pixar’s Helm Undertook Flight Lessons at SCAD

Some strong character animation in Pixar Animator Neil Helm’s CG short Flight Lessons, which he produced at SCAD in 2008. It’s been accepted to numerous festivals, including the 2009 Bitfilm event.

Simon Pegg is an Ice Age Weasel

This is our first look at Simon Pegg’s character in Blue Sky Studios’ upcoming Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which is in theaters July 1st. Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek) plays a one-eyed weasel named Buck.

Cartoon Conglomerates and the Wider World

It's good to remember that no matter how much we think that the U.S. of A. is the center of the 'toon universe, it's really not. There's a big, multi-colored tapestry out there.

Nickelodeon announced on June 17 that it will launch ChinaToon, a 1-hour branded block dedicated to showcasing original Chinese animation ...

As the premier original Chinese animation block created by an international broadcaster, ChinaToon becomes the first region-wide platform for Chinese animators to showcase their programming to vast audiences across the region.

“Chinese animation is gaining immense popularity and critical recognition internationally. ChinaToon will be the vehicle to bring this unique animation genre to a wider audience,” said Indra Suharjono, Executive Vice President and Managing Director for MTV Networks South East Asia and Greater China. “We are proud to introduce ChinaToon and its exciting lineup of Chinese animation programs as new members to Nickelodeon’s family of top-rated programs that kids of all ages in Asia love,” she added.

What's striking is how good old American mega-companies are right in there partnering with the locals, subsidizing regional cartoons in various markets. Job number one, after all, is getting eyeballs to look at your product, and putting home-grown stuff into the mix seems like a good way to increase viewership.

It's pretty to think that everybody everywhere wants Cars or Bugs or Huckleberry Hound 24/7, but such is not always the case.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

What to expect in Toy Story 3 (hints: new characters, adult themes!)

You know animator Angus MacLane's work even though he's not one of the Pixar marquee stars like John Lasseter or Brad Bird: MacLane lent his talents to WALL-E, for which he accepted the film's Saturn Award on Wednesday. He also directed the short BURN-E, which appears on the DVD. He got his start at Pixar while Toy Story 2 was in the pipeline, and he's currently working on Toy Story 3 animation. Since he and Pixar got their start with the franchise, he says the third film represents their adulthood.

"I feel like we've grown up making these movies, and each of the films represents where the filmmakers were at the time of making the films," MacLane said in an exclusive interview in Burbank, Calif. "Certainly we're approaching this film 10 years later, so I think we're sort of coming at it from the standpoint of [Andy] has grown up, and we've grown up with these toys, and we have a reverence for them, but we also have different things as a priority."

Lee Unkrich takes the directing lead on a story dealing with Andy's going off to college. The prospect of Andy's outgrowing Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody was first raised in Toy Story 2. So what is a Toy Story with Andy basically grown up?

"I think that's a question we've tried to figure out ourselves," MacLane said. "I can tell you Andy's room is in the movie. That's about all I can say." Whether it's the Andy's room we know or Andy's teenage room, MacLane would not tell.

With a specialty in character movement and motion, which brought many of WALL-E's silent sequences to life, MacLane has had a chance to introduce new toys into the Toy Story world. "Oh, I've had a lot of fun with new characters," he said. "I've spent a lot of the time on the show on new characters. That's one of the things I did work on on this film, was a lot of preproduction and developing on the new characters, just help out getting them ready to go for the film." On Toy Story 2, MacLane was in charge of the "crazy" Buzz Lightyear, fresh out of the box at the toy store, still thinking he's a real space ranger.

MacLane assured fans that he and his Pixar colleagues take Toy Story 3 seriously. They would not make a cheap knock-off sequel (ahem, Disney). And he said the new installment will mark the true conclusion of a trilogy.

"Toy Story 2 was one of the first films I did starting at Pixar, so I feel a real kinship with the characters, specifically Buzz Lightyear," MacLane said. "So I really wanted to get back in there and animate. To give you a sense of the responsibility they feel, there was a T-shirt made in the story department. The back of the T-shirt said, 'Franchise Guardian.' It's not something we do lightly. We go back into that mythology with the intent to continue a story that needs to be told, a story that we believe in and a story that, to be really honest, having seen the movie, is amazing. I'm not worried about it, but in finishing it, we want to make sure it's the best film it can be, and it's fit to stand alongside the other films on the shelf."

Toy Story 3 is due in theaters in 2010.

Video Games -- Non-Union Frontier

Over the years we've gotten calls from disgruntled animators, technical directors and designers at video games studios. For some reason, these folks have been disgruntled by the long hours that chop the dollars of their weekly paychecks into small pieces when tabulated on an hourly basis.

But the game industry, even though it uses a lot of the same skill-sets and technologies as the cartoon biz, has been a tough nut for union organizers to crack -- not just for TAG but other unions as well. Our experience has been meetings followed by management getting wind of the discontent, and then ... no more meetings or rep cards. Even SAG hasn't achieved much leverage over the games industry. The actors have some contracts, but they are paltry.

Aside from that, it turns out that the video games industry is a lot like the movie business. Big cash flow overall, but a lot of misses along with the game console blockbusters:

The phrase "hits driven business" gets thrown around a lot these days, but in the case of video games it really is true ... [A]ccording to Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR) – as reported by Forbes – roughly 20 percent of video games that make it to market are actually profitable. To think that 80 percent of video games only break even or lose money for publishers is somewhat alarming ...

Games are pretty much like movies in the ratio of successes to failures, kissing cousins in fact. Which maybe explains why movie companies buy them. .

Warner Bros. has emerged as the only bidder for Midway Games, all but assuring that it will take control of the bankrupt publisher previously owned by Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone and become a major force in the video game industry

... Redstone, who took control of Midway in 2004, was never able to bring the troubled company to profitability. He sold it at a huge loss to a private investor last November in exchange for a $700-million tax write-off that has since led to a lawsuit from the publisher's creditors ...

Cynics might say: "Of course games are tough to organize now. The business isn't as healthy as it was a couple of years ago ..." but in my experience, the health of a company isn't what gets it to sign a union contract. Leverage is.

Movie and cartoon studios signed union contracts in the late thirties and early forties when the depression was still dragging pocketbooks down and corporate profit margins were minimal. But union-friendly labor laws had recently been passed in Washington and film workers were motivated. to change the status quo.

When games employees get to a place where they desire to organize their workplace ... and corporations' power is trimmed back (like, people don't fear for their jobs when the sign a union representation card) ... we might see more Midways and Electronic Arts coming under labor agreements.

In the meantime, the Warners, News Corps and Viacoms will go on pursuing game companies, becuasethe possibility of finding a rich vein of gold among all the pyrite is simply too tempting to pass up.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Save Taz!

And now, no joke, is a Public Service Announcement:

Apparently Warner Bros. is supporting the effort to Save the Tasmanian Devil by donating the character (and a bit of animation) to the cause.

(Thanks, Dave Carter)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Toy Movies

Where Dan Meth sees Hollywood updates of classic toy and cartoon properties going. He’s not far off:

(Thanks, Sterling Sheehy)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

How will the Avengers movie succeed in bringing Iron Man, Cap and Thor together?

Marvel Studios executives are so busy producing Iron Man 2, prepping Thor and coordinating everything with The Avengers that the only person available to accept the studio's Saturn Award was head of marketing Doug Finberg. (Finberg accepted the Saturn Award on behalf of Iron Man on Wednesday in Burbank, Calif.)

He updated us on Marvel projects: Finberg confirmed that the working title of the Captain America film is The First Avenger: Captain America. That would both introduce Cap and lead into the concept of The Avengers, which would follow. "It's something we're considering, and really at the end of the day, everyone is going to know that he is Captain America," Finberg said in an exclusive interview.

Earlier in the week, Avengers screenwriter Zak Penn told an audience at the L.A. Film Festival that he is running around between Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America production offices to make sure his script coordinates with the introduction of key superheroes, and, of course, his script has to be done before the other films are. Finberg was confident that all teams could unite for a solid Avengers film. "Having everybody on board and really being able to actually work as a team together and develop the Marvel cinematic universe is what's most important to us," Finberg said.

The long-term plan is to introduce Thor and Captain America, then combine them with Iron Man to form the Avengers. But that still only accounts for three members of the famed superhero team, four if they throw in the Hulk. Could Penn introduce any new supporting superheroes in the Avengers film itself? That's not off the table, according to Finberg. "I think that really remains to be seen," he said.

After some contractual hiccups, Samuel L. Jackson signed on to continue playing Nick Fury, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., in the Marvel universe films. Expect him to play a major role in the upcoming films, with the possibility of his own film down the road, Finberg said. "Well, we have a multi-picture deal with him, so obviously we're in business with him for a while to come, and we really enjoy working with Sam," he said.

Thor will be another case of Marvel's trusting a director to bring a unique vision to their property, as Sam Raimi did for Spider-Man, Bryan Singer did for X-Men and Jon Favreau did for Iron Man. "Kenneth Branagh at the head of it all is really the critical thing to us, to really create his vision" of Thor, Finberg said. "He and [Marvel honcho] Kevin [Feige] are working really closely together."

As for Iron Man 2, which is currently in production, Finberg assured fans they can expect more of the same action and improvisational drama courtesy of star Robert Downey Jr. There may be no way to manage fan expectations for the sequel to a $300-plus-million-grossing film, but Marvel is committed to pleasing them.

"It really is more to come," Finberg said. "Ultimately, the final expectation, the final verdict, is with the fans, and that's something that the team of Marvel does a phenomenal job at, actually making the best movie from the material they can."

Iron Man 2 is due out May 7, 2010. Thor is next, on May 20, 2011. Then Captain America on July 22, 2011, and The Avengers on May 4, 2012.

The stars say: Think it's hard to figure out Heroes now? Wait until next season

Adrian Pasdar at the Saturn Awards

As always, the season finale of NBC's Heroes teased the next one: Sylar shape-shifted into Nathan's body, and Adrian Pasdar played a bewildered "Nathan" who started to show signs of Sylar's old watchmaking skills. This bothered Angela Petrelli (Cristine Rose), who just wanted to take her son out to lunch.

At the Saturn Awards on Wednesday, Pasdar said that he's not going to play Sylar so much as play somebody trying to imitate Nathan. (Pasdar took home a Saturn Award for best supporting actor on a television series.)
"That's the irony," Pasdar said. "I don't feel like I'm playing Sylar. I feel like I'm playing a guy who's playing Nathan. You see what I'm saying? I'm not trying to act like Sylar. Sylar's trying to act like Nathan. A little tic ... here, a little compulsive, obsessive behavior somewhere else."


In a separate interview at the awards ceremony, Rose suggested that it might only get harder to follow who is playing whom on Heroes: The upcoming "volume five" has Sylar and Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) morphing into a variety of of co-stars and day players. "I just read episode 403 yesterday," Rose said. "What happens then, my mind has been so baffled, but it's a lot of fun. Yet another huge change comes for me in episode 403."

Nathan Petrelli began as a corrupt politician who was willing to let New York explode. He ultimately sacrificed himself to stop his brother, Peter, from blowing up, but later worked with the government to capture people with abilities. Pasdar suggested that his journey in the next season will finally redeem Nathan.

"I think there's going to be a good redemptive nature to his behavior this year," Pasdar said. "Somehow we're going to try to get out from underneath the dark cloud that surrounded the first couple years of his perception of what his power might be, his ability. It's nice to think it might end a little lighter. It might end with a martyrdom kind of behavior thing in order to sacrifice [himself] to serve the world."

As for that crazy episode 403 Rose mentioned, it includes the usual Petrelli parental issues. Nathan will be managing his shape-shifting, and their interaction will revolve more around Rose's Angela. "It's classic Mama Petrelli," Pasdar said. "It's more on her consistent behavior than it is on mine. I have a little bit of a shift going through my character, so she's more solid. It more resonates around her gravity pull than mine."

Rose added that the new season will spend comparatively less time with all characters. "All the stories are much smaller than they were, so each episode will be fewer people," Rose said. "So it'll be smaller stories for everyone, but I'm happy that they write my name in the script."

Both actors defended the changes in the writing staff, most notably the abrupt departure of Bryan Fuller for a second time. "Actually, there haven't been that many changes," Pasdar said. "People come and go. The core of the writing group has been there from day one. The show will end up being remembered for what it is, not for what people thought it might become or wished it had. The show is the show. You have to work with the mechanics that you're given, and we have some tremendously talented writers that work very hard every day to sculpt and craft the show. So it's my job to say what they interpret as the character. The arrivals and departures, I love Bryan Fuller. He's a good friend."

Rose confirmed that she is still working with writers who have written Angela since the beginning, with only one new addition she has yet to meet. "Well, Adam [Armus], Nora Kay [Forster], Aron [Eli Coleite] and Joe [Pokaski] are still there, and Michael [Green]. A new gentleman, I think his first name is Carlos, is coming in, but I have not met him yet."

Heroes returns Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT non NBC.

Is Iran using Lord of the Rings to quell protests?

As security forces and protesters continue to clash in Iran, the government has begun using propaganda and entertainment in an attempt to quiet the populace, TIME magazine has reported—and it turns out that a Lord of the Rings marathon on Tehran 's Channel Two is part of that plan.

The newsweekly was contacted by a resident of the capital, who asked for anonymity. He or she reported that "Iranian television usually treats its viewers to one or two Hollywood or European movie nights a week. But these are not normal times, so it's been two or three such movies a day. It's part of the push to keep people at home and off the streets, to keep us busy, to get us out of the regime's hair. ... Channel Two is putting on a Lord of the Rings marathon as part of the government's efforts to restore peace."

The writer shared that many viewers are finding a political subtext to Peter Jackson's trilogy:

"I wonder which official picked this film, starting to suspect, even hope, that there is a subversive soul manning the controls at seda va sima, central broadcasting," wrote the anonymous Iranian. "It is way too easy to find political meaning in the film, to draw comparisons to what is happening in real life. There are themes that seem to allude to Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the candidate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims to have defeated: the unwanted quest and the risking of life in pursuit of an unanticipated destiny. Could he be Boromir, the imperfect warrior who is heroic at the end, dying to defend humanity? Didn't Mousavi talk about being ready for martyrdom?"

Visit TIME magazine for further analysis.

Scarlett Poster for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra!

Paramount Pictures has provided us with the new poster of Rachel Nichols as Scarlett in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, opening in theaters on August 7th. Directed by Stephen Sommers, the big screen adaptation also stars Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Byung Hun Lee, Sienna Miller, Ray Park, Said Taghmaoui, Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans and Dennis Quaid.


According to AICN, a hush-hush “Smallville” telefilm could be in the works – it’d follow the events of the show’s upcoming ninth-and-final season, and offer audiences a glimpse at something they were certain (because originally said it’d never happen, since this show is supposed to be all about Clark Kent) they’d never see…. Tom Welling in the Superman suit.

An untried scooper (like how we’re not judging?) told the site that he’s gotten a hold of some signage being prepared for next months’ Comic Con.

Here’s what said scooper says :

On black, with crimson/red text in the same font lettering that Smallville uses, and a transparent grey Superman "S" watermark behind the text: METROPOLIS CHRISTMAS 2010 Then at the bottom is a banner advertising the Smallville presentation.

This could be nonsense… but if not, it could be a great send-off for “Smallville”. Wonder if Michael Rosenbaum will reprise his role as Lex Luthor for it?

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