Tuesday, July 21, 2009

News - 07/21/09...

Phineas and Ferb Creators Talk About Emmy Nom!

Since Disney’s popular Phineas and Ferb series was nominated for an Emmy in the Special Class category (for the episode titled “The Monster Of Phineas-N-Ferbenstein”) we contacted the show’s creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh to hear what they had to say about the good news.

“We’re thrilled and feel like we’re back in grade school,” says Povenmire, who was also nominated last year for Best Title Theme and Best Music and Lyrics. “It really helps that the Academy created this Special Class category for animated half-hour shows that have two 11-minute episodes. It used to be that the Emmys would always go to shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy and just one slot saved for shows made for kids. But this year, it’s great because we share the category with SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Of course, the 2009 Emmy nominations were record-setting because Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy managed to land in the Best Comedy category and will be competing against shows such as 30 Rock, Entourage, The Flight of the Conchords, How I Met Your Mother, Weeds and The Office. This is the first time an animated show has been running in this category since The Flintstones was nominated in 1961—and lost to The Jack Benny Show.

“I was really pleased for Seth so I texted him said this must mean that you peaked three years ago!” jokes Ponvenmire, who used to work on Family Guy three years ago! “It’s Emmy Logic, you always get the Emmy three years after the show has peaked."

Marsh adds, “It’s amazing that all these years nothing has won against The Simpsons and King of the Hill. It’s also great to be running with SpongeBob. We’d love do a lot of smack-talking against Stephen [Hillenburg], but he’s such a nice guy…and we hope nice things for him.” “In other words, you’re going down, Stephen!” jokes Povenmire.

All kidding aside, both Povenmire and Marsh are pleased with the way Disney has supported their show from day one. “It felt kind of strange for us that a studio has been behind our show from day one,” adds Povenmire. “Usually, they wait until you get the numbers!” “They gave us a lot of freedom and enough rope to hang ourselves with,” says Marsh. “It’s a great position to be in."

Povenmire and Marsh met as layout artists on The Simpsons and worked together on Nickelodeon’s Rocko’s Modern Life. Povenmire came up with the initial idea for a show after he doodled a boy with a triangle-shaped head in a restaurant. The triangular-head boy became Phineas, and the show came to center on the adventures of two stepbrothers who come up with wild adventures to fight boredom and the annoying snooping of their older sister. The series debuted on the Disney Channel in 2007 and has been garnering great ratings on the kids’ network and its new, sister station Disney XD.

The Phineas and Ferb team is now working on the show’s third season. Povenmire says they’re busy hammering out a special Christmas episode. “We’re closing in on our 100th half-hour and that’s a lot of stories considering we’re doing two 11-minute episodes at a time,” says Marsh. “We’re also getting more and more people involved with the songs. We just did a song with Richard O’Brien who is part of our regular voice cast. Rocky Horror Picture Show fans remember him as Riff-Raff in that movie.”

Since Phineas and Ferb has been one of the few breakout hits of Disney’s TV division in the past couple of years, it puts the creators in a great position. “It really makes us unique right now,” says Marsh. “But there are some new shows that are coming out in the next couple of years that look fantastic. The long-term effects of our showis that they’ll have the resources to develop more animated shows and give the artists the freedom to stick with their vision.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

TV-Loonland Plants Shows in Asia

TV-Loonland has scored deals for several of its animated children’s series with major broadcasters in Asia.

Disney Japan has bought the TV rights for all 52 three-minute episodes of Leon, while Cartoon Network Japan has picked up the comedy series Raymond, 78 x 7 min.

Meanwhile, Pat & Stan (39 x 7 mins., a 30-min. special and 350 shorts) has gone to Nickelodeon Asia for airing throughout the region. EBS has scored the rights to over-the-air broadcasts in South Korea, where talks are underway for DVD rights with a key partner.

Additional deals include ATV Hong Kong taking on the Little Princess seasonal specials and Well Go USA taking pay-TV rights for Rainbow Fish in Taiwan.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Flood of Anime Coming to FUNimation, Anime Network

Anime distributor FUNimation has announced at this weekend’s Otakon the acquisition of several popular series for broadcast and DVD, while Anime Network has just made hundreds of episodes of anime available online.

FUNimation deals include the broadcast and DVD rights to the features The Last Wizard of the Century, Captured in Her Eyes, Countdown to Heaven and The Phantom of Baker Street from TMS Entertainment.

The company also announced it has DVD, broadcast and digital to the first season of Casshern Sins from Tatsunoko Productions.

It also announced said it has acquired the original masters for the entire Dragon Ball Z anime series, episodes and films, and will release all as the Dragon Box for the first time in the U.S. The first of seven such Dragon Boxes will be available this fall. 

Anime Network Online’s deal includes more than 350 episodes of various anime episodes, all of which are now available at theanimenetwork.com.

Among the new series is Cromartie High School, a fan-favorite series about students at a Japanese reform school.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Go Anpanman Sets Guiness Record for Characters

Popular Japanese children’s cartoon series Go Anpanman has made the Guiness Book of Records for having the most characters in a series, with some 1,768 having appeared on the show since it began in 1998.

According to Variety, the series sells more than $1.1 billion of character products a year. It also has sold some 50 million manga volumes in its history and produced 20 feature cartoons.

The series was created by 90-year-old Takashi Yanase, who told the trade paper he hopes the show will be praised more for “its quality than its quantity.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Potter Dazzles, But Ice Age Has Legs

It was a magical first weekend for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, even as the animated 3-D feature Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs showed staying power.

The sixth film in the Potter series grossed $79.5 million this weekend to bring its five-day opening total to an impressive $159 million.

In second place was Ice Age, the third film in the series from Blue Sky Studios and Fox, pulling in $17.7 million, for a domestic total of $152 million.

The 3-D edge was a major element in Ice Age’s strong showing. The film edged out both Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which took in $13.7 million, and last weekend’s box office champ, Bruno, which grossed $8.4 million — a huge 72 percent drop in business from the previous weekend.

The 3-D appeal has worked well for Ice Age overseas, where it has grossed more than $330 million in its first 10 days of release, according to Variety. The film’s impressive performance has it on track to surpass Transformers’ performance, but will likely come in second in the year-to-date global gross rankings to Potter.

The success of 3-D, CG-animated features also continues to boost the Disney-Pixar film Up, which grossed $3.2 million domestically in its eighth week of release, making for a total $279 million. While Ice Age opened in many markets around the world simultaneous to its U.S. release, Up has yet to open in many major foreign markets and has so far grossed about $48 million overseas

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

"Pup Named Scooby-Doo" actress Cathy Cahn dies, 55

Actress and comedienne Cathy Gail Cahn, a member of the voice cast of the 1988 Hanna-Barbera series A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, died July 6 in Los Angeles. She was 55.

A member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, she portrayed Woodstock in the off-Broadway musical Snoopy! in San Francisco, Boston, New York and Los Angeles, for which she won a Drama-Logue Award.

"She steals the show without uttering so much as a chirp," Sam Birnkrant of the Evening Outlook said in a typical review. "Cathy Cahn captures the wry tone of Schulz's strip more truly than anybody else in the cast.... Her quirky antecedents are Laurel and Hardy and Harpo Marx out of Harry Langdon. What a bird!"

She guested as Fifer Pig in the 2001 House of Mouse episodes The Stolen Cartoons, The Mouse Who Came To Dinner, Clarabelle's Big Secret, House Of Scrooge and Pete's House Of Villains, and supplied additional voices in the 2001 episode Timon & Pumbaa.

Born in New York on April 26, 1954, she attended Hamlin's Urban School, Antioch College and the University of California, Berkeley, from which she received her advanced degree.

She studied with Marcel Marceau's Master Class in her birthplace, and was in many theatrical, TV and film productions.

Cahn was interested and active in theater and saving the environment, and volunteered in political causes. "She had infectious humor and was a delight to all who knew her," family members and friends said.

She was a lung transplant recipient 14 years ago and was awaiting a new transplant. She had just completed Sick Chick, a short documentary which she wrote and starred in. It was previewed June 26 and is soon to be released.

Cathy Cahn is survived by her mother Muriel, sister Melanie, stepfather Aurelio Lioi, aunt Dr. Bunny Duhl and many cousins.

Two memorials are planned: one in Los Angeles at the 24th Street Theater at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 25, and another in San Francisco at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations in Cathy Cahn's name to the Screen Actors Guild Foundation at 5757 Wilshire Boulevard, #124, Los Angeles, CA 90036 or www.sagfoundation.org.

The Awesome Chronicles of Manny and Khan

Someone posted one of the shorts from The Cartoonstitute, Cartoon Network’s former shorts program. Since they are no longer running cartoons, we might as well embed it here and take a look. Note, the sound is bad and the ending is cut off. Regardless, the heavily Spumco-influenced Awesome Chronicles of Manny and Khan by Josh Lieberman and Joey Giardina has funny drawings and pleasing design… things no longer of interest to CN.

(Thanks, Joshua Bailey)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry Runs Science of Animation Exhibit

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, Florida, will be running an exhibit on the making of an animated cartoon through September 7, 2009. The exhibit uses Cartoon Network characters to show the many different technologies and techniques at work to create animation, including "bullet time" effects, stop-motion animation, and voice-over recording. Admission tickets will also allow attendees to watch the IMAX show of experimental animated short films.

Ghibli News

Nausicaa.net notes that Ghibli's Blog has stated that the next, non-Miyazaki-directed Ghibli movie is due to hit Japanese theatres in 2010. The studio previously indicated that co-founder Isao Takahata is developing a new project. The staff and nature of the 2010 movie has not been revealed.

HitFlix will be presenting Ponyo screening July 24th

Toshio Suzuki and Mamoru Oshii Conversation Fan Translation: Suzuki Toshio no Ghibli Asemamire – Episode 45: Ponyo vs The Sky Crawlers

O: And his wife is scary (Laughs), real scary. So he’d never actually do something like that in reality, but he brings all his feelings and thoughts that would make him a John and puts it all into the world of animation. It’s-I’m sure that all of that went into those plants, and those jellyfish, and the marine life.

S: Yes yes yes yes. It comes out looking like that, but it’s about old age! (Laughs)

O: That’s right. All of that, whether it’s the jellyfish, the fish, or the 5 year old girls, that’s all an old man’s world. I mean, throughout that whole movie, you only see children and the elderly. There’s the mom and the dad, but other than them… Where are all the other adults?

S: Good old Mamoru Oshii. What’s interesting about you, Oshii-san, is that a person as logical and theoretical as you was still looking at the art. It’s because you’re looking at the art. To be totally honest with you, at first, what surprised me the most when I was looking at the rushes was that car scene. A character licks their ice cream, then the car shows up in front of you, right? Then the steering wheel gets jerked left. What surprised me was how there was no intensity at all there.

VIZ Ponyo releases official 4-volume full-color PONYO Film Comic, a PONYO Picture Book, and THE ART OF PONYO, which presents a comprehensive collection of original art, sketches, character designs and storyboards from the film. Walt Disney Studios will release PONYO throughout North America on August 14, 2009.

PONYO FILM COMIC, Vols. 1-2 · Rated ‘A’ for All Ages · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $11.50 CAN · Available August 4 · Vols. 3-4 · Available August 11, 2009

PONYO PICTURE BOOK · Rated ‘A’ for All Ages · MSRP: $19.99 U.S. / $23.50 CAN · Available August 4

Hardcover of the colorful and easy-to-read book using colored animation cel art from the feature film combined with simplified text.

The Art of PONYO · Rated ‘A’ for All Ages · MSRP: $34.99 U.S. / $39.99 CAN · Available August 11

A comprehensive soft cover edition that features striking watercolor and pastel concept sketches and layout pages from the film, as well as interviews with production principals and the complete screenplay to give an inside look at the entire creative process behind PONYO.


GhibliWorld.com on Hayao Miyazaki comments on Ponyo's unique end credits. "The end rolls exist only for the staffs' parents, who live in the home countries of the staff, so that they can expect to find their sons' or daughters' names on it. If our films are made for small kids though, the end roll must consider about its style."

Ponyo DVD Box Set

Background Art of Porco Rosso

Ponyo Fanart

Going Hollywood

Hollywood Reporter's Risky Business blog has delved into the efforts to kickstart the live action of combining giant robot Voltron. ImageAtlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven, Richard Suckle and Steve Alexander, the producers behind "Get Smart" and "The International" (and Roven of course also produced "The Dark Knight") have acquired the rights to make a live-action feature based on the robot-lion property, pushing the project forward after several years in development with the Mark Gordon Company.

Live action Voltron hit some legal trouble last year.

According to Anime News Network, World Events Productions (WEP) attempted to serve Toei Animation with a law suit concerning the live action adaptation of Voltron on Monday.

While Toei produced Hyakujuu Ou Golion (King of Beasts Golion), the anime localized as "lion" Voltron and Kikou Kantai Dairugger XV (Mechanized Fleet Dairugger XV), localized as "vehicle" Voltron, Koplar Communications licensed the rights to that original anime and produced the Voltron localization.

The relationship between Kopar and Toei went to the courts in 1999 when Koplar's WEP production company created the CG Voltron: The Third Dimension, leading to new agreements between the companies in 2000 , and future head-aches trying to suss out who had the rights to what.

For more on the dispute between Kopar/WEP and Toei that ensued following Variety's report concerning the Voltron live action, check out Anime News Network's blow by blow here.

New The Last Airbender character photos

Upcoming in Japan

Previews -

Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror - Production I.G's CG animated film

Rita et Machin

Fresh Precure! Omocha no Kuni wa Himitsu ga Ippai!?


Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

Thanks to GodMars DX for the head's up on this

Via Anime News Network
Asked about the status of Satoshi Kon's work at Otakon, Madhouse founder Masao Maruyama said he couldn't provide too many details, he did say that Kon is finishing up storyboards and key animation for the project, and that things are moving according to schedule.


The third anime incarnation of Black Lagoon will be a direct to video OVA scheduled for 2010. Directory Sunao Katabuchi, character designer Masanori Shino, voice actress Megumi Toyoguchi and production studio Madhouse are all back for the new incarnation of exotic heroic bloodshed anime. The previous two Black Lagoon anime TV series adapted the manga up to the still running "El Baile de la muerte," a storyline whose length is approaching all of Black Lagoon manga that preceded it.

Blu-ray re-release of the original anime series are being planned.


A new television adaptation of modern girl meets Warring States period dog demon boy Inuyasha Kanketsu-hen (Inuyasha Final Chapter) is in the works. The anime will broadcast on Japan's YTV this fall and cover the story in volumes 36 to 56 of the manga


The Noitamina late night block of anime, aimed at audiences who are not traditionally anime fan, will feature an adaptation of Hideo Okuda's Naoki Prize winning short story collection Kuchu Buranko (Trapeze). Director Kenji Nakamura will reunite with his Ayakashi - Samurai Horror Tales (Bakeneko) and Mononoke character designer/chief animation director Takashi Hashimoto at Toei Animation.


The Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Memorial Box Blu-ray Disc set will Gundam Frag (framement) short films adressing life in the Universal Century (the time line featured in the original Mobile Suit Gundam and it's follow-up, as opposed to alternative histories featured in Gundam re-relaunches and re-imaginings such as Gundam Wing, Gundam SEED and Gundam 00)


Kemono to Chat (Cat with Creatures), a four panel comic strip about a high school girl who can speak with cats, is being adapted into anime.

The 30th anime movie dedicated to robot cat from the future Doraemon, Gekijouban Doraemon: Nobita no Ningyo Taikaisen (Doraemon Movie: Nobita’s Great Merman Sea Battle), is schedule to pen in Japan in March 2010.

Weekly Shonen Magazine will feature a new manga by creator of absurd highschool delinquent comedy Cromartie High School, Eiji Nonaka. Written by Nonaka and illustrated by Maru Asakura (090 - Eko to Issho), Double J will feature the "surreal, cute, and strange life" of four girls, who Nonaka drew in animal character costumes (kigurumi).

After a health related hiatus, Tomoko Ninomiya returned to work on conservatory drama Nodame Cantabile on July 7 in preparation for its return to Kiss in the issue due out July 25th. Nodame Cantabile intends to end the manga when the final live action adaptation is released in Spring 2010.

Live Action

Noboru Ishiguro confirmed the rumors that SMAP's Takuya Kimura is attached to plans to develop a live action Battleship Yamato movie.

Tatsuo Nitta's Shizukanaru Don - Yakuza Side Story, a yakuza manga that been running since 1989, has been adapted into a second live action movie with Shizukanaru Don: Shinsho (The Quiet Don: A New Chapter) opening September 5th. The story follows a mob heir who leaves the family business to become an underwear designer who is forced to mix his career and family business. Yoshihiko Hakamada plays the lead and Hideo Jojo directs.

Daimajin Kannon Revealed: Sneak peek at the all-new character! - a look at the new TV series feature the giant samurai statue come to life

Geharha: The Dark And Long Hair Monster (Chouhatsu Daikaiju Gehara) will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan on September 30th and will include English subtitles

Anime on American TV

Syfy has renewed and expanded a content licensing deal with Starz Media's anime distribution arm, Manga Entertainment. The new agreement renews the weekly Ani-Monday programming block on Monday nights from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET.

As part of the new season of Ani-Monday, a new, two-hour programming block on sister channel, Chiller will air horror-based anime programming on Mondays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

Ani-Monday and the Chiller anime block will feature a collection of movies, series and shorts from Starz Media's anime distribution arm, Manga Entertainment.

Titles to be aired include season two of Gundam 00 from Bandai entertainment, “Gurenn Lagann,” “RaveMaster” and motion comics based on the popular “Street Fighter” series. The Chiller anime block will include “Blood: The Last Vampire”, “Ninja Scroll” and episodes of “Descendants of Darkness.”

Worth Checking Out...


Otaku Diaries Part 1: Lies, damn lies, and statistics

Speaking of statistics, What Japan Thinks: Neon Genesis Evangelion liked by many Japanese - also Japanese girls love big mechs too

On Sci-Fi Japan, Tim Eldred's SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 6: BE FOREVER YAMATO…and the Kitchen Sink

Twitch reviews the Oshii written Musashi

To all of those out there who began to have visions of a full on samurai epic when the heard Ghost In The Shell director Mamoru Oshii had scripted a new animated feature based on the life of legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, I have a piece of advice. Disabuse yourself of those notions right now. Yes, Musashi: The Dream Of The Last Samurai does indeed boast a script by the legendary animator and, yes, it is very much rooted in the life of the swordsman. But forget epic. For that matter, forget narrative. Musashi is in no way, shape or form a narrative feature. Rather it is a type of animated documentary, essentially an hour and fifteen minute essay written by Oshii laying out his own theory on the roots of Musashi’s fighting style.


FUNimation's Soul Eater trailer

Full sized Tetsujin 28 in the works

Nerv’s Asuka Evangelion W-02 Wrist Watch

The Gundam Big Face Encyclopedia

Kobun Shizuno directed El Dorado animation

Photo Op at 1/1-Scale Gundam's Shoulder Auctioned

Gundam director likens giant robot replica to Statue of Liberty

The full sized Gundam is also hosting weddings

Osaka Abandons Totoro Lawn Art Due to Copyright Issues - a 10-meter-wide was being trimmed into the lawn of Shinyuhigaoka plaza


What if Anime characters’ eyes shrunk?

Andrew WK recently twittered "Recording and producing the 30TH ANNIVERSAY GUNDAM ALBUM, finishing a remix, and finishing a reggae jam for a VOLCOM release."

Gerard Butler to voice Dragon's Viking

Scots have done well for DreamWorks Animation. Mike Myers turned Shrek into a faux Scottish ogre and the studio's biggest franchise. Now DreamWorks has the real deal its 2010 animated fantasy film How to Train Your Dragon: Scotsman Gerard Butler voices Stoick the Vast.

"I play a Viking," Butler said in a group interview in Beverly Hills, Calif., after a Saturday press conference for The Ugly Truth. "It's actually about Vikings. It's a world of Vikings fighting dragons."

Fellow Scotsman Craig Ferguson joins Butler in the cast. "I love Craig," Butler said earlier in the press conference. "He plays my best friend. He plays Gobber."

Based on the Cressida Cowell book, Dragon centers on a young Viking who comes of age and befriends a dragon instead of hunting him. While he's learning valuable lessons about judging creatures for what's on the inside.

"It's called How to Train Your Dragon," Butler said, adding: "Normally that would sound way more innocent than it does in this press conference. It's a DreamWorks animated movie for kids, or maybe it isn't. It might be a huge con. 'Oh, that's what that meant.'"

How to Train Your Dragon opens March 26, 2010.

Why Bill Nighy's now voicing toons: Astro Boy, Rango

Bill Nighy voices Dr. Elefun (right), friend of Astro Boy creator Dr. Tenma (Nicolas Cage).

Bill Nighy has a voice made for animation, but he's actually done precious little voice-over work ... until now.

Nighy—the British actor who's played Davy Jones in the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean films and Viktor in the Underworld trilogy—will throw a one-two animation combination punch with Astro Boy and Rango.

Bill Nighy

Based on the beloved Japanese manga by Osamu Tezuka, the big-screen adaptation of Astro Boy will be an origin story about the little robot boy with superpowers who returns home to Metro City to save it from a military threat and also to reconcile with his estranged "father." The movie is helmed by David Bowers and features a voice cast that also includes Nicolas Cage, Freddie Highmore (as Astro Boy), Eugene Levy, Donald Sutherland, Kristen Bell and Nighy as Astro Boy ally, Dr. Elefun.

"I didn't really know about Astro Boy, but as soon as ... a few things were explained to me, I was so pleased to be in Astro Boy," Nighy said. "They have statues in Japan of Astro Boy. They have whole stores, obviously, dedicated to Astro Boy. I love Astro Boy. I've seen some of it and it looks really smart and really cool. I'm hoping to go to Tokyo in October for the premiere. I'd love to be there, because it will be such a big event."

Nighy added, "I love the images. I love the script. I love the whole spirit of the thing, the idea that this boy, who is supposed to be a robot without any emotions or emotional life, in fact, quite the reverse is true. And then you have a deeply contemporary story about—guess what—the threat to the environment and how military development can harm the world. But, mostly, I just love the figure of Astro Boy and the kind of tragic but heroic elements about him. And Elefun, he's the voice of reason. He's the voice of compassion and sense, and he also has an instinctive understanding that, although a robot, Astro Boy has some kind of inner life."

Recording his dialogue for Astro Boy, Nighy found himself all alone in a booth. That wasn't the case, however, with Rango, an animated action-adventure with Johnny Depp as the voice of a household pet on a journey of self-discovery. The film is directed by Gore Verbinski, who helmed the Pirates trilogy, and it features the voices of Depp, Nighy, Isla Fisher and Abigail Breslin.

"I'm a rattlesnake with a machine gun," Nighy said. "That was done like a sort of radio play or like rehearsing a theater play, where everybody was in the room at the same time. And they filmed it. Crash [Mark "Crash" McCreery], who did all the drawings for Pirates—which people may not have seen, but he's an incredible artist—he's done all the images, all the animation, the drawings. I only just did [my voice over] at the beginning of the year, so it'll be a while. But I got to meet Harry Dean Stanton. I didn't know what to say. Suddenly he was there, and I couldn't think of anything to say."

Astro Boy will blast into theaters on Oct. 23, while Rango is slated to open on March 18, 2011.

Turning Meatballs from a kids' book into a film

The title of the new animated film Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs—based on the children's book by author Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett—evokes a world full of weird events and wild jokes. Appropriately, it's that sense of oddball, nonsense humor that drew directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller to the project, although they knew they would need to combine those elements with a compelling story.

"The book is really very short," Lord told reporters during a group interview in Culver City, Calif., last week. "It doesn't have a whole lot of characters. It's a very simple plot, and it luckily works well as a movie structure—sort of like the Jurassic Park plot, which was like, 'Wouldn't it be neat if there were dinosaurs? Yeah, wow, that'd be really neat. Oh, wait, that would be really bad and horrible and dangerous—let's get out of here!' That's basically the plot of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but with food instead of dinosaurs."

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs follows the adventures of an amateur inventor, Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), whose food processor accidentally get shot into the heavens, causing all sorts of exotic cuisine to rain down (literally) from the skies. The movie also features the voices of Anna Faris, Bruce Campbell, James Caan, Bobb'e J. Thompson and Andy Samberg.

Key to making the book work as a film was adding an emotional arc and relatable characters, Lord added: "Characters that you're following that you care about. So it was actually kind of exciting to be able to make all that stuff up from scratch while trying to keep as many of the memorable visual moments in the book."

Lord and Miller's previous work includes writing and producing episodes of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother and co-creating the short-lived MTV animated series Clone High.

Miller explained that the duo was initially contacted to develop another project for Sony, but added that he and Lord subsequently convinced them that Cloudy was the film they were destined to make. "We saw that they had the rights to this book, and it was both mine and Phil's favorite book growing up," Miller said. "So we basically ignored the other project and grabbed them by their lapels and made them let us do this."

Miller said that the development period of Cloudy from pitch to production was remarkably short and left them a little shellshocked when time came to collaborate with the artists and animators who would bring the film to life. "We finally decided to take the plunge, and literally from one day to the next we were on How I Met Your Mother, and then we're here in this room with 50 animators, storyboard artists, visual development artists, going, 'So, what's your direction for the movie?'" Miller recalled. "We were like, 'That's weird—we thought we'd meet with you guys and figure that out.' It was a big leap to direct a movie, and thank God we had tons of amazing support and great artists."

Miller said that the collaboration ultimately made for a better experience and, he hopes, a better film. "In animation, every part of the process makes the previous part obsolete," he said. "You start off with this script, and you're like, 'Great, this script is perfect.' And then you start storyboarding, and you're like, 'Nope, that doesn't work at all.' The storyboard artist contributes ideas, and you have the team of 10-15 people that are all beating stuff up like an art critic, and just the thing kind of evolves. And if you do it right, it gets better each time. You put it in the editing bay and cut that together, and you're like, 'No, we have to add this shot.' So if you're open to it, you can make your movie much better all the way through the process. And then like forget when the animators come in--they have their own ideas about how to interpret this stuff."

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs opens Sept. 18 and will be previewed at Comic-Con in San Diego this week.

Number One for the Weekend

For a long time I've thought: "Okay, The Simpsons has got a two-season order, even as it cuts artistic staff and squeezes wages, but then that's it. The series goes bye-bye and we see the occasional special (maybe) and a couple of feature films.

But with this going on, I wonder ...

The networks capped off a slow weekend with yet another low-rated Sunday night with little original fare.

Airing all repeats, Fox finished first for the evening with a 1.4 adults 18-49 rating and 5 share, according to Nielsen overnights, just ahead of No. 2 CBS’s 1.3/4.

A repeat of “The Simpsons” was the night’s No. 1 show, averaging a 2.0 at 9:30 p.m ...

The question that crops up is: Does the Fox network walk away from a franchise that is still delivering? Twenty years after it started?

I guess that depends on items such as: Can the voice cast be re-signed? Is there a sizable benefit to stockpiling still more episodes on top of the hundreds News Corp. and Gracie Films already have?

I don't know the answers to these queries, but no doubt that, if the price and circumstances are right, Rupert's minions will want the series to go on ... and on ... and on.

I mean, why they hell not? If it's still a cash cow?

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Big Stars

Bill Damaschke ... one of the Big Fish at DWA ... is half right:

"We cast people at the beginning of their comedy careers who are big stars by the time the movie is released," he says, referencing Jack Black, a relative unknown when the studio tapped him for "Shark Tale" ...

... Because what he leaves out is that DreamWorks Animation also casts a lot of mega stars as voice actors in their movies. Not saying that's necessarily wrong, but they're the ones who kind of started the trend. Pixar and Blue Sky Animation do it far less ....

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Warner enlists veteran comic writers for superhero movies

Warner Brothers, still flush from the more than $500 million generated by The Dark Knight last year, has hired veteran comic-book writers Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison and Marv Wolfman to act as consultants and screenwriters for upcoming comic-book movie adaptations, according to The Hollywood Reporter .

Johns previously worked as 1978 Superman director Richard Donner's assistant and co-wrote with Donner the recent "Last Son" Superman story arc for Action Comics, which utilized fan favorite villains General Zod, Ursa, and Non, the trio of Krytonian criminals exiled into the Phantom Zone at the start of Donner's Superman. Other noteworthy works by Johns include a long stretch writing Justice Society of America and stints scripting The Flash, Green Lantern and Booster Gold.

Morrison is best known to comic book writers for his penchant for deconstructing comic book heroes, as he did with Animal Man. Other noteworthy superhero works by Morrison include the graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, the depiction of the Joker in which was said to have been studied by Heath Ledger for his portrayal in The Dark Knight, All-Star Superman, Batman, RIP and The New X-Men.

Wolfman is the grand old man of the three, having worked in comics steadily since the 1970s and having been editor of Marvel's line after Roy Thomas stepped down. Aside from writing titles like Fantastic Four and Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, Wolfman wrote the acclaimed Tomb of Dracula comic and DC's epic Crisis on Infnite Earths.

The trio of vets are working on treatments that will be in keeping with various superheroes' continuities, while at the same time be accessible to wider audiences unfamiliar with decades of comic book history and back-story.

Johns has apparently created a treatment for a Flash movie to be scripted by Dan Mazeau. Other projects are in very early stages of development, so Warner Execs are keeping mum, for the moment.

'Iron Man 2' Filming Completed, Jon Favreau Parties Like It's 2009

Back on April 6, we brought you the news that "Iron Man 2" filming was officially underway -- or more accurately, director Jon Favreau brought us the news via Twitter. Now, a few weeks shy of four months later, Favreau has reported (via Twitter) that filming is completed on the much-anticipated sequel to the 2008 blockbuster.

"We just wrapped principal photography," posted Favreau on Saturday, immediately following it with, "Next stop, San Diego."

The director had been posting updates on the conclusion to various cast members' photography throughout the day, including the final scenes at Tony Stark's workshop. And when all was said and done, Favreau and the "Iron Man 2" cast and crew did exactly what one might expect "Iron Man 2" star Robert Downey Jr.'s comic book alter ego to do after a hard day's work: they partied.

"Just closed down the Iron Man wrap party. We went nuts," Favreau posted early this morning (though "late Sunday night" is probably more appropriate). He even posted a blurry image of himself manning the turntable at the late-night "Iron Man 2" party.

"Next stop San Diego," indeed.

Tim Burton Talks 'Batman,' Superhero Trends And 'The Dark Knight'

It's been 20 years since Tim Burton's "Batman" introduced a moody Michael Keaton to movie audiences, effectively re-establishing the caped crusader as an obsessive loner after extended periods of live-action and animated campiness. While the more whimsical elements of 1992's "Batman Returns" sometimes overshadow Burton's legacy of gothic motifs, his two films' darker take on Batman and the Joker are echoed in Christopher Nolan's Bat-blockbusters.

MTV spoke with the "9" producer ahead of his appearance at this year's Comic-Con in San Diego about his time with the franchise and his take on cinematic superheroes -- namely, Nolan's acclaimed "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight."

"These [movies] are great. When I got involved with [the Batman franchise] many years ago things were ripe for a different interpretation," Burton told MTV News. "When you look at character novels and [regenerated characters], they're such strong things that they can take reinvention."

"At the time for the '89 'Batman' it felt different at the time to make it darker," he added. "That still is the trend to this day. At some point maybe it'll go back to Adam West!"

Even though it seems unlikely that Batman will go-go dance onscreen again anytime soon, Burton's point is already being proven by the partially West-inspired "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" on Cartoon Network. While retaining his tragic origin and unbreakable focus, this Batman dresses in lighter colors, cracks jokes and regularly smiles. The same goes for comic books with Dick Grayson's more upbeat personality seeping into his role as the new Batman.

Fan-favorite author Grant Morrison even cited the Adam West era as one of his inspirations for DC's current, well-received "Batman and Robin" series.

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