Thursday, October 8, 2009

News - 10/08/09...

Matt Groening Says 'Don't Hold Your Breath' For Another 'Simpsons' Movie

FROM MOVIES BLOG: Those shouts of "D'oh!" you're hearing this morning are coming from a nation of "Simpsons" fans who must now come to terms with the fact that another movie about the Springfield's favorite yellow-skinned, four-fingered family is a long way away. How long? At least until the series, now in its 21st season, is finished.

Speaking to filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who is currently working on a 20th anniversary documentary about the series, creator Matt Groening and showrunner Al Jean at least had a good reason for not wanting to board the Hollywood train again so quickly, Variety reports.

"It took 18 years to get around to doing the movie," Groening said. "We got very frustrated. We thought it would take two years but it ended up taking four. Some day maybe we'll do another one -- but don't hold your breath."

For more on Matt Groening's plans (or lack thereof) for another "Simpsons" movie, head over to

Animation Employment, Fall 2009

As of today our records show 2,565 active members employed at various union shops. Here is the breakdown by employer; the figures in brackets are the number of members employed (click the thumbnails for a full-sized version of these charts.)

Like we've said before, animation has become a more dominant part of the entertainment and movie/t.v. business of the past two decades. It's way beyond being a sleepy little niche inside the industry, as it was for the first four or five decades of its existence.

There was a time in the nineties when animation studios resembled miniature versions of the old live-action studio system, circa 1930-1950. Artists, designers and technical directors would be hired, signed to long-term contracts, and would then work for years at a single company.

Today, only DreamWorks Animation owns that business model. For everybody else, the visual effects "project to project" model dominates the profession. People are hired during production ramp up, work strenuously until the feature or television show is finished, and are then sent on their way to the unemployment office.

But you can see a lot of folks are working, if only for a few months.

(Here is the employment chart from June 2006. As you can see, trend lines go up and trend lines go down. By way of contrast, in the Fall of 1989 -- twenty years ago -- TAG had 700 active members. We've done better since.)

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

At the Diz Co.

Inside the hat building, the last of "The Princess and the Frog" support crew departs on Friday. As for the oncoming Rapunzel, it continues to ramp up toward full-bore, pedal-to-the-medal production. One staffer said to me:

"I saw the new story reels today. The picture has improved a lot since the last time I saw it, twelve weeks ago at the last screening. The directors have done a good job with it.

"Sometimes story reels change but don't get any better. This time it's gotten better ..."

I had an animator show me some animation of Rapunzel's love interest, a swashbuckling kind of guy with a swashbuckling name. (Won't reveal it since I don't think it's out yet, but think "Famous screen swordsman.")

On a separate note, a word about the George Nelson lamps that are in abundance on the second floor of the hat building. They came in with the Pixar management team, and they look like this:

My folks had one of these lamps, a big one, in the living room of our La Crescenta house. They hang in the coffee bistro area of the hat building, also all around the second floor of Disney Toons in Glendale, and they are terrific.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Press Release For Upcoming "Batman: The Brave And The Bold" Episode And Soundtrack

Cartoon Network and New Line Records have issued a new press release highlighting the upcoming Batman: The Brave and The Bold episode and subsequent soundtrack release for "Mayhem of the Music Meister!"

The press release is available below to view. Click on the image below for a closer look at the cover art.

Press Release:


Guest Star and Emmy Nominee Neil Patrick Harris Lends his Voice and Singing Talents to a Special Musical Episode of Batman: The Brave & The Bold Airing October 23 at 7:30 PM ET/PT on the Cartoon Network

New Line Records to Digitally Release Batman: The Brave & The Bold: Mayhem of the Music Meister! – Soundtrack from the Animated Television Show on October 24

The Caped Crusader faces a new villain in the upcoming Batman: The Brave & The Bold episode, “Mayhem of the Music Meister!” The episode, from Warner Bros Animation, features the voice of Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) as the Music Meister, a menacing villain who is able to exert powerful mind-control through song. Producers and cast members received a standing ovation following a sneak-preview at Comic-Con this past July and, after much anticipation, the episode will finally air Friday, October 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network.

On Saturday, October 24, New Line Records will release Batman: The Brave & The Bold: Mayhem of the Music Meister! – Soundtrack from the Animated Television Show digitally on iTunes and other digital music outlets. will offer fans the exclusive option of purchasing either a hard or digital copy of the soundtrack. The soundtrack will feature all five original songs from the episode as well as the highly sought Batman: The Brave & The Bold theme.

"Being approached by the producers to do a 'Batman Musical' was a complete surprise and total thrill," said composers Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis and Kristopher Carter. "The phenomenal cast and musicians brought each song to life and we are so happy New Line Records has agreed to release a soundtrack so that this music can be enjoyed by Batman fans worldwide."

"Venture Bros" Season 4 Premieres October 18, 2009

The Venture Bros season 4 will premiere on October 18, 2009, at midnight. The fourth season promises to pick up where the season 3 finale left off, answering whether Brock Samson will return to work for the Venture family and whether the Monarch will ever succeed in killing his hated arch-foe Dr. Venture.

Look, there's no press release for this news, so I had to make stuff up and this is all I got from the Adult Swim press site. Actually, that's a lie, I got more, but you can't have it. Press only. Nice try.

OK, fine. Here, have some stills (click on them to enlarge to full high-definition versions):

Quickdraw Noir

Comedienne Merrill Markoe mashed up a Peter Lorre track from “M” with a Hanna Barbera cartoon, did her own English translation, and added some music by Andy Prieboy. And now it’s all so clear…

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Gigantic Gigantor

Visitors to Kobe Japan will now be greeted by the sight of a 60-foot statue of Gigantor (Testsujin 28-go, to those in the know). This follows the unveiling of a 59-foot Gundam in Tokyo.

Not to be left out, Korea is building a gigantic Taekwon V statue (aka Voltar the Invincible), that will reportedly be more than twice the height of the Statue of Liberty.

Is there any chance we can construct a 60-foot Frankenstein Jr. in Manhattan?

(via Gizmodo, by way of The Beat)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Groening Shares Simpsons Tidbits at MIPCOM

Forget about all the content sale hustle and global TV business deals. Matt Groening’s appearance at the 2009 MIPCOM market in Cannes was the biggest news in town this past week. Sure, Jerry Seinfeld, Lisa Kudrow and Joan Rivers were also here promoting their latest reality/game shows, but it was Groening who outshone all the stars at the confab.

The father of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie was joined by longtime Simpsons show runner Al Jean in a laughter-filled Creative Content session. The duo was interviewed by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), the producer/director of an upcoming documentary about the show, in a packed auditorium at the Palais de Festival on Tuesday evening (Oct. 6).

Spurlock opened the session by reminiscing about the early days of the show when people like George Bush Sr. and Bill Cosby were warning audiences that the show would corrupt the minds of American kids. “But after 450 episodes and becoming the longest-running primetime show in history, the Oxford English dictionary includes a definition for D’oh!”

Photo Identification: (L-R) actor/director Morgan Spurlock (keynote moderator) Matt Groening (“The Simpsons” series creator and executive producer) and Al Jean (“The Simpsons” executive producer).

Groening and Jean talked about the many hours they spend on each show and how the writing staff of 20 aren’t afraid to touch any subject—and pretty much tackle all kinds of material, even having fun with FOX uber-boss, Rupert Murdoch. “The root of the enduring success is that we continue to work very hard and we work all year around and don't take any breaks, which is why we look so tired,” said Jean.

Groening said he believes that the show’s longevity owes a lot to the show’s ability to focus on so many different characters. “Perverts can relate to Mo, clever kids like Lisa—there’ something for everyone,” said Jean. When asked by an audience member who he relates to today, Groening said it was Homer, although he has also mentioned that he also sees himself in Bart and Lisa!

On the subject of their favorite guest voices on the show, the duo said it was pretty amazing to have some of their music heroes--people like Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and The White Stripes doing voices for the show. “We have a list of people that haven’t been on the show,” said Groening. “If we say it publicly, they always say no.” It was also revealed that pop star Prince (who has a reputation for being difficult) came to them with an actual storyline for himself, which pretty much made him look like the most wonderful human being on the planet. Thankfully, he turned them down when he was told that the writing staff decides on the plot!

Jean also noted that Fox gave them total creative control when the show started, because animation in primetime was a new thing back then. He noted, “We still have it, something that wouldn’t happen now but at the time there was no animated show in primetime so they were happy to let us get on with it!”

As far as the future of the show is concerned, Groening and Jean said things look pretty good, because the ratings for the new season have actually been better than last year’s numbers. The voice cast has committed to doing the show for two more seasons after the current one.

Groening said he first realized that the show was a big success when he was building a house and one day some Bart graffiti appear on one of the walls. “I’m not sure they knew whose house it was, but for me, it was a sign!” Groening also shared that he actually collects cool hand-made Simpsons merchandising items sent to him from fans all around the world. When an audience member asked him what his favorite item was, he laughed and said it was a Simpsons bong!

Photo Identification: (L-R) Marion Edwards (President, International Television, Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution), Mark Kaner (President, Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution), Matt Groening (“The Simpsons” series creator and executive producer), Al Jean (“The Simpsons” executive producer) and Gary Newman (Twentieth Century Fox TV Chairman).

On Wednesday (Oct. 7), Groening was awarded a yellow key to the city of Cannes by the mayor. He also received the inaugural MIPCOM Creative Icon Award at a special dinner held at the Carlton hotel tonight.

For more, visit:

Top Photo Identification: (L-R) Matt Groening (“The Simpsons” series creator and executive producer) and Bernard Brochard, mayor of Cannes.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Angelo Rules Is Most-Screened Show at MIPJunior

Cake Entertainment and TeamTO’s unique-looking new animated show Angelo Rules (formerly titled How To Drive Everybody Crazy) was the buyers’ most-watched program at this past weekend’s MIPJunior event in Cannes. Based on the French books Comment Fair Enrager by Sylvie de Mathuisieulx and Sebastien Diologent, the series is slated for delivery by spring of 2010. The beautifully animated production centers on the adventures of a mischievous 12-year-old boy who faces the challenges and adversaries in his life with great humor and ingenuity. France 3 and Teletoon have already committed to airing the show the 78 x 7 minute 3D series.

Here is the complete list of the top 20 most-screened shows at MIPJunior 2009:

1. Angelo Rules (Cake/TeamTO)
2. Canimal (BRB Internacional, Vooz)
3. Almost Naked Animals (9 Story Enterprises)
4. The Jungle Book (ZDK Enterprises/DQE)
5. Bugged (Millimages UK)
6. 1000 Nights (Big Bad Boo Studios)
7. Fanboy and Chum Chum (MTV Networks Intl.)
8. Little Nick (SND)
9. 3rd and Bird (BBD Worldwide, Little Airplane)
10. Sally Bollywood (Zodiak Entertaiment Distrib)
11. Abby Careful (Monster Distributes)
12. K9 (Park Entertainment)
13. 100,000 Whys (Changzou Creative Industry Base)
14. The Classroom (Decode Enterprises)
15. Dino Dan (Breakthrough Entertainment)
16. Small Potatoes (Little Airplane Productions)
17. Majority Rules (E1 Kids/Daro Film Distrib.)
18. Gaspard and Lisa (Chorion Ltd.)
19. Action Dad (Toonzone Studios, Animation Development Co.)
20. Gasp (Moonscoop)

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Cookie Jar Takes on Varsity Merchandise, Entertainment

Look for cheerleading to get a lot more animated under a new deal between Varsity and Cookie Jar Entertainment.

Under a just-announced strategic licensing partnership, Cookie Jar will develop both live-action and animated entertainment based on the leading brand of cheerleading and dance team apparel to start in 2010.

The meat of the agreement will be a licensing program to develop branded merchandise.

“The Varsity brand embodies spirit, pride, passion, athleticism and leadership,” said Lisa Streff, Cookie Jar Group senior VP, domestic consumer products. “Cookie Jar is looking forward to capturing the brand’s essence by developing a licensing program that is unique to Varsity.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Digital Domain Opens Vancouver Post

Digital Domain is opening a new visual effects facility in Vancouver, Canada.

The Oscar-winning facility has appointed veteran production executive Gloria Borders to the post of president of feature film operations to oversee visual effects production in both the new facility and the main Venice, Calif., office.

The move is being funded by an infusion of capital from parent company Wyndcrest Holdings.

The company will build out a 20,000-square-foot studio in Vancouver and expects to employ between 50 and 60 visual effects artists, primarily from Canada, for a 2010 opening. The company expects to employ more than 100 people by the end of next year.

Borders has been working since early 2009 as a consultant for Digital Domain on its expansion plans. She previously was head of studio for DreamWorks Animation and head of post production at Revolution Studios. She also worked at Lucas Digital and Skywalker Sound, and won an Oscar for sound effects editing on Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Zoic Hosts 3-D Salon Oct. 7

Zoic Studios will host Oct. 7 at its Culver City studios an in-depth salon discussion of stereoscopic imaging.

Zoic VFX supervisor Leslie Ekker will host the discussion with Franklin Londin, a 3-D media expert who has been making 3-D photographs, 3-D animation and other 3-D multimedia projects.

Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss topics from animation and compositing to cinematography and projection.

To attend, RSVP to The event will be held at 3582 Eastham Drive, Culver City, CA 90232. For further info, call (310) 838 0770 or online go to

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Nick Makes Second Season Appointment With Glenn Martin, DDS

Nickelodeon has place a 20-episode order for a second season of the stop-motion animated comedy Glenn Martin, DDS.

Produced by former Disney chief Michael Eisner’s Tornante Animation, Nick at Nite says Glenn Martin DDS has become its No. 1 program among viewers ages 2 and up, with 2.1 million total viewers a week for the third quarter of 2009.

The series follows a dentist and his family who travel America in a tricked-out RV, and features the voices of Kevin Nealon, Catherine O’Hara and Judy Greer. The series was created by Eisner, Alex Berger and Eric Fogel.

Glenn Martin, DDS is an irreverent twist on the classic family sitcom, told in the style of Nickelodeon with a kids’ point of view at the center,” said the network’s EVP of development and original programming Marjorie Cohn. “We are excited to continue our partnership with Michael Eisner’s Tornante Animation and to bring even more Martin family adventures to our audience.”

Glenn Martin, DDS has clearly resonated with families in its first couple of months,” added Eisner. “The series is a great fit for Nick at Nite’s new evening programming, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Hugh Jackman Defends 'Wolverine' To Katie Couric, Discusses Plans For Japan Sequel

CBS News anchor extraordinaire Katie Couric has a startling confession to make: she's not exactly a fan of Wolverine.

The journalist admitted as much in a recent interview with "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" star Hugh Jackman, revealing that she isn't quite the comic book adaptation's target demographic. But Jackman insisted that there are plenty of reasons that Couric—and anybody, really—would have a good time with the "Wolverine" franchise.

"Why would you miss [out on] it?" he argued. "A little bit of nudity, I get all of my rage issues out... any rage issues I have are gone! Yeah, you do [have fun]. I wouldn't make them otherwise."

Jackman even said that viewers of the franchise from all ages and demographics have expressed their support for his work as Marvel's clawed mutant.

"It still amazes me that people come up to me from all over the place, all different types of people and all different types of demographics," he said. "It's always strange to me though when people say, 'Oh, my son loves it!' And I go, 'How old is your son?' And they go, 'Three!' I'm slicing people's heads off here!"

As for future installments of the "Wolverine" franchise, Jackman reinforced earlier comments that he's hoping to bring Logan to Japan.

"The whole time from when I began, the one story line that I went and said, 'That's a movie!' while I was reading the comic books, was this whole saga in Japan," he described. "It's really beautiful, different and fantastic. I thought, 'That's a movie.' Now, we've done four movies and we haven't done it yet, so I'm working on that script now. If that comes up to being what I thought it might be, I'll do that."

While Jackman admitted that he couldn't continue playing Wolverine forever, he nevertheless always comes back for more.

"I always say, 'oh, I'm never doing another one,' until I see the script. It has to be something. But in the superhero world, those kind of movies, 'Wolverine' is by far the most interesting," he confessed. "So I'll do eleven more and that's it!"

Gerard Butler In For '300' Sequel, But Unsure 'How Real It Is'

A sequel to “300” is ludicrous, unwarranted, impossible—and perhaps somewhat brilliant. Which is why everyone from Frank Miller to Zack Snyder toMark Canton avoid killing the proposed sequel, but nonetheless insist that if Miller can make it work, they’re in. Now, count in another co-collaborator: King Leonidas.

“I had an incredible time doing the first one, and I think that if the first one was a stand-alone, as a one-off, there’s no bad thing in that,” explained Gerard Butler when we caught up with him recently, saying he’d be willing to bring his character back to life—even if it meant re-animating arguably the most dead person in movie history (remember all those spears?). “But, you know, let’s see what it might bring forward with a second one.”

That said, Butler—who will be seen again on screen next week in F. Gary Gray’s revenge drama “Law Abiding Citizen”—said that he has heard little about it from anyone official. In fact, it’s only fans and journalists who seem to be keeping him up-to-date on the flick, which I’m really, really hoping would be called “301.”

“I don’t know how real it is,” admitted the star.

Arguably the biggest surprise hit of 2007, “300” was based on Miller’s highly-stylized depiction of the legendary Battle of Thermopylae. Shot largely with green-screens on near-empty soundstages, the groundbreaking flick cost $65 million to make and took in $70 million on its opening weekend, on the way to a $210 million domestic gross. Starring then-relative-unknowns Butler, Lena Headey, Michael Fassbender and Rodrigo Santoro, any sequel that would return their characters to life would most likely be a prequel.

Cool! Real Tauntaun sleeping bags coming in Nov.

Remember that Star Wars Tauntaun sleeping bag we told you about a while ago, based on The Empire Strikes Back?

It's coming out for real! IN NOVEMBER!

ThinkGeek, which posted it as an April Fool's joke this year, posted this note:

ATTN Tauntaun Fanatics! We should have the real version of these cool sleeping bags arriving in early November. Initial quantities will be limited, so if you are at all interested in owning a piece of Star Wars history please click the Email me when available link.

And just in time for Christmas!

Here's the original April Fool's ad:

In the sub-zero wasteland of the planet Hoth, only the strong survive... and of course those lucky Jedi protected by the thick skin of a Tauntaun. Now after exhaustive movie viewing research and analysis ThinkGeek Labs has isolated the exact synthetic compounds needed to re-create Tauntaun fur. What have we done with this supreme knowledge? Created a Tauntaun sleeping bag of course.

This high-quality sleeping bag looks just like a Tauntaun, complete with saddle, internal intestines and plush lightsaber zipper pull. Now when your kids tell you their favorite Star Wars movie is "Attack of the Clones", you can nestle the wee-ones snug in simulated Tauntaun fur while regaling them with the amazing tale of "Empire Strikes Back". 
Use the plush lightsaber zipper pull on the Tauntaun sleeping bag to illustrate how Han Solo saved Luke Skywalker from certain death in the freezing climate of Hoth by slitting open the belly of a dead Tauntaun and placing Luke inside the stinking (but warm) carcass. If your kids don't change their tune on which Star Wars film is the greatest ever, you can do your best Jar Jar impression until they repent.

Product Features

* Classic Star Wars sleeping bag simulates the warmth of a Tauntaun carcass

* Built-in embroidered Tauntaun head pillow

* Plush Lightsaber zipper pull

* Great for playing pretend "Save Luke from the Wampa" games

* Teach your children about the best Star Wars movie ever

* Fully Licensed Lucasfilm™ Collectable

* Enough room for adults, plenty of space for kids

* 100% Polyester construction, Machine washable

* Bag Dimensions - 33" x 67" (not including head pillow or legs)

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