Wednesday, October 14, 2009

News - 10/14/09...

Warner Bros. Animation names 3 new vice-presidents

Warner Bros. Animation has assembled the final pieces of its new senior executive team, naming Peter Girardi to the newly created position of senior vice-president for series and alternative animation, and appointing Ed Adams as senior vice-president for business and legal affairs and administration.

Additionally, Burbank, California-based WBA has named former Cartoon Network executive Jay Bastian as vice-president for series.

The announcement was made Friday by Sam Register, WBA's executive vice-president for creative affairs, and represents the completion of the division's executive restructuring under Warner Bros. Television President Peter Roth, who oversees TV animation for the atudio. Girardi and Bastian will both report to Register, while Adams will report to Roth.

Working closely with Register, Girardi will oversee the creative for WBA series, and will spearhead the development and production of animated programming for non-traditional animation markets and mediums, including alternative outlets for adults, emerging digital platforms DC and, among others, as well as direct-to-DVD releases, in conjunction with Warner Premiere.

Also reporting to Register, Bastian will manage the day-to-day production activities for WBA's current television series, which include Batman: The Brave and the Bold, returning for a second season this fall on Cartoon Network, and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, a new animated program debuting later this year on Cartoon Network. He will focus on the development of animated comedy and traditional television programming for kids 6 to 11.

In his position, Adams will direct the day-to-day activities of WBA's non-production operations, including business affairs, legal affairs, finance, planning and administration for the division. He will oversee negotiations of WBA's deals with producers, writers and performers for its TV series, direct-to-DVD releases and content for digital platforms, and will supervise the division's business and legal affairs staff.

"We are in the midst of ramping up development and production at WBA," said Register. "By bringing Peter Girardi, Ed Adams and Jay Bastian into the fold, we are making a strong statement about our future intentions and the many avenues of animation we are pursuing."

An acclaimed producer and a leading designer in the field of digital media, Girardi comes to WBA after 13 years as executive creative director of Funny Garbage, a company he founded in 1995 and built into one of the premier producers of interactive experiences for the World Wide Web and the digital space. FG has created Web sites, cartoons, TV programs, CD-ROMs, kiosks, record albums, motion graphics, books and print campaigns for a wide variety of clients, including Time Warner, Nike, Microsoft, Viacom and Bloomberg. In 1999, Girardi became the youngest person ever given the prestigious Daimler-Chrysler Award for Design Excellence.

Most recently, Girardi's work has focused on television production. He executive produced and served as production designer on the series Minoriteam and Saul of the Mole Men for Turner's Adult Swim, and was production designer and puppet designer for Comedy Central's Crank Yankers. He also created the main title design for Warner Bros. Animation series The Batman, Teen Titans and Duck Dodgers, as well as for the theatrical motion picture Friday After Next.

Girardi began his career as a graffiti writer, painting on New York City subway cars and creating visuals for computers while at the School of Visual Arts. He later became a producer and designer at the Voyager Company, a prominent producer of CD-ROMs and laser discs.

Adams comes to WBA after more than a decade of business affairs, legal and operations experience at leading companies in the animation industry. Immediately prior to joining WBA, Adams was head of legal affairs at DreamWorks Animation. There, he oversaw a department of 20 that handled all business and legal affairs responsibility for the company, including negotiations for above- and below-the-line agreements, rights acquisitions, employment and labor agreements (including unions).

Prior to DreamWorks, Adams was vice-president for business affairs, business development and sales at Cookie Jar Entertainment, where he spearheaded sales for the company in the areas of home video and publishing, and negotiated/closed a number of deals across home video, new media and merchandising.

Before Cookie Jar, Adams maintained his own development, business affairs and business development consultancy, providing business counsel across a broad range of subjects to a number of clients in film and TV production, as well as publishing. He was also senior counsel for business and legal affairs for Cartoon Network Studios, and for Turner Television as well. Prior to that, Adams was an associate attorney in the entertainment and intellectual property practice of the law firm then known as Katten Muchin & Zavis, and he began his entertainment career as an associated at Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler.

Bastian comes to WBA after spending the last 11 years in the original series department at Cartoon Network. During his tenure, he was the executive in charge of production of 10 original animated series, supervising the initial development and day-to-day production of such long-running programs as Ed, Edd N Eddy, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Justice League, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy and, most recently, Chowder. He was also the executive in charge of production of such CN original long-form programs as Ed, Edd N Eddy's Big Picture Show, Underfist: Halloween Bash, Billy and Mandy's Big Boogie Adventure and Wrath of the Spider Queen.

Before Cartoon Network, Bastian was the manager of development and acquisitions at Lightyear Entertainment in New York City. While in New York, he also performed color rendering for six years on the independent animated films of Faith Hubley at The Hubley Studio, and Emily Hubley at Hubbub, Inc. Bastian graduated from Hofstra University with a BA in Communication specializing in film.

British Animation Awards launches call for entries

The British Animation Awards launched a call Monday for entries to next year's awards.

Held every two years, the BAAs celebrate and recognize British animation talent, with Nick Park, Tim Burton and David Shrigley among the past winners.

The categories for the 2010 awards include Best Animated Special, Best Children's Pre School Series, Best Children's Series, Best Music Video, Best Commercial Craft, Best Commercial: Director, Best Film/TV Graphics, Best Short Film, Best European Feature, Best Sound Design and New Media: Best Commissioned Animation. In addition there, will be a Children's Choice Award (chosen by a panel of children from finalists in the children's category) and a Public Choice (voted for by cinema-goers across Britain).

The 2010 awards will be held in London next April 8. The closing date for entries is November 30.

"The UK is a hotbed of animation talent, and we can't wait for the 2010 entries to flood in and make our judging job one of the most difficult but enjoyable around," said BAA director Jayne Pilling. "The last two years have been another successful and innovative period for British animation, and we're looking forward to once again celebrating and recognizing the best the industry has to offer."

Voted by peer-group juries, with additional zwards voted for by the public, the British Animation Awards is the only ceremony in Britain to recognize all forms of animation. The BAAs reward the work of students and established animators, feature and short films, animated graphics for film and television, children's and adult television series and specials, music videos and commercials.

To download an entry form, or for more information on the 2010 British Animation Awards, visit

EXCLUSIVE: Todd McFarlane Describes His Plans For New 'Spawn' Animated Series

Say what you will about the live-action movie, but HBO's late-'90s animated series "Todd McFarlane's Spawn" was one of the most faithful adaptations of a comic book to ever hit the screen. Taking full advantage of the network's restriction-free environment, the 18-episode series managed to offer the same violence, sex and dark, adult-oriented tone that made McFarlane's "Spawn" comic such a success.

And now the Emmy-winning series could be headed back to television.

I spoke to McFarlane about his recent announcement that the "Spawn" animated series could be returning to production in 2010, and got the lowdown on why next year could be a big one for the popular Hellspawn, and what form his big comeback could take if it happens.

"I had a lot of people saying they loved the animated series more than the movie, because the movie was PG-13 and HBO wasn't shy about going into the R range with the series," said McFarlane of contrast between the 1997 "Spawn" movie starring Michael Jae White and the 1997-1999 animated series which cast Keith David as the voice of Spawn.

However, even all the power of a Hellspawn wasn't enough to avoid a pair of nasty legal disputes that stalled new Spawn-related projects for the last ten years. Now, with the bulk of the legal wranglings settled, McFarlane says he's preparing to unleash an animated Spawn on the world yet again.

"We developed another 85-minute, movie-length storyline, but things got complicated near the end and there were some legal issues, so it got frozen because of that," explained McFarlane of the long delay between the animated series' final, award-winning season and now. "Recently, we were able to come to a compromise where everybody is happy. As a result of that, at the end of this year—as long as both parties do what they're supposed to—then all the rights come back to me."

"Not only do I get the rights, but I get all the work that was done," he added. "And the work is fairly extensive."

According to McFarlane, not only is the story for the 85-minute "Spawn" feature written, but "the characters are designed, the background is there, and we've even done the voice recording."

"It stalled right at going overseas to find a studio, so it's pretty far along," he explained.

McFarlane said the question isn't whether Spawn will return with a new animated series, but whether the new "Spawn" series will kick off with that full, 85-minute pilot or a series of individual episodes cut from the pilot. And this time around, he hopes that the animated series will have a much better connection with a potential live-action "Spawn" movie he described to MTV News last month.

"[The animated series] has a lot of the same dark sensibilities as the movie I've talked about," said McFarlane. "This animated story is fairly compatible with the ideas I talked about with the movie. They would go hand-in-hand fairly well."

So, when will we know more about Spawn's return to the animated world?

"Arguably, January 2 I can go into Hollywood and start knocking on doors," said McFarlane.

Wild Wind by Leo Campasso

Twenty-one-year old Leo Campasso, an animator at Buenos Aires studio HookUp Animation, created Wild Wind in his spare time. The short is an experiment that combines pixel-style characters with traditional cartoon animation principles. The results are a lot of fun and prove that one need not associate pixel animation with stilted, boring movement . Interesting sidenote: Leo said in his email to me that he’s been animating since he was twelve when he got his hands on a copy of Flash 4.

A high-res version of the film can be downloaded here.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Hollywood Reporter on Imagi's "Astro Boy" Gamble

The Hollywood Reporter has taken a look at how the fortunes of Imagi Animation Studios will be dependent on the reception for Astro Boy, the new CGI feature film adaptation of the manga and anime by Osamu Tezuka which has premiered in Hong Kong and Japan and will debut in North America on October 23, 2009. The report states that the initial reaction from Japanese audiences was good, although it does not cite box office sales for the movie so far. The article also repeats Imagi's financial difficulties over the past two years since their TMNT remake was released in 2007, and also notes that Imagi is currently "focused on the search for a hero concept of Chinese origin."

Peter Bagge Signs Deal for "The Bradleys" Pilot with Fox

Fantagraphics is reporting that Peter Bagge has signed a development deal with Fox for an animated prime time series based on Bagge's The Bradleys comics. Bagge has a pilot script deal and the network has ordered a pilot.

"Dexter: Early Cuts" Animated Web Shorts Start October 25, 2009

Showtime will begin a 12-part series of animated shorts based on their hit show Dexter starting on October 25, 2009. Titled Dexter: Early Cuts, the series will show glimpses of the titular serial killer's past and the evolution into the character he depicts on the show. The series will be written by Dexter producer and writer Lauren Gussis, with Dexter star Michael C. Hall reprising his role. Each episode will feature a different illustrator, including Andres Vera Martinez and Ty Templeton.

USA Today on Tinker Bell's Wardrobe Makeover for "Lost Treasure"

USA Today has taken a brief look at the costuming changes in store for Disney icon Tinker Bell in Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, the upcoming direct-to-video movie from Walt Disney Studios. Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter expresses his love for the character, calling her his "absolute favorite character of all the Disney characters" and noting that the costume change was called for because of the movie's autumn setting, where "the weather is cooler, and her outfit should reflect that."

Briefly: Cricket 'Toon for India; Kong Maquette for Sale; "Up" Still Up Overseas

* Cartoon Network Asia and Animasia are teaming up for a cricket-themed animated series to air on the network's Indian feed in the second half of this year. [World Screen]

* An original stop-motion maquette used to bring King Kong to life in the 1933 movie King Kong will be going up for auction on November 24, 2009, at Christie's in London. Sale price is expected to be £100,000 - 150,000 (US$160,000 - $240,000) [Reuters]

* Disney/Pixar's Up continues to show strength in the overseas box office, taking the #1 overseas spot again last weekend with a $21.7M take to bring its total overseas gross to $257.4M. [Hollywood Reporter]

Stars Play Truth or Dare for SpongeBob’s Anniversary

Nickelodeon’s yearlong celebration of the 10th anniversary of SpongeBob SquarePants will culminate Nov. 6 with the premiere of a one-hour special event titled “Truth or Dare.”

The special features SpongeBob and pals reminiscing through a series of never-before-seen flashbacks, while celebrity guests such as Rosario Dawson, Craig Ferguson, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, LeBron James, Pink, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and Robin Williams appear as themselves in live-action sequences.

“Over the past decade, SpongeBob has become one of the most beloved characters in television history,” said Brown Johnson, president of animation at Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. “And we’re excited to cap off the year’s celebration with this star-studded special anniversary event.”

To celebrate this on-air event, a dedicated SpongeBob category will be available on Nickelodeon VOD during the months of October and November that will include a two-minute sneak-peek of “Truth or Square” in October. The event will be fully simulcasted on Nickelodeon Mobile.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Schaal, Clark Join Toy Story 3 Cast

Lee Unkrich, director of Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 3, has announced the casting of Kristen Schaal and Blake Clark in the film, as well as an extension of the theatrical run of the 3-D versions of Toy Story and Toy Story 2.

According to Unkrich, Schaal will play an unspecified new character in the new film, set for release June 18, while Clark will voice the role of Slinky Dog that was previously played by the late Jim Varney. Schaal has been a regular on the HBO TV series Flight of the Conchords, while Clark is a veteran TV actor who appeared on such programs as Home Improvement.

The message did not specify how much longer the double-feature release of the first two films would run. They were originally set to run for two weeks.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Prep and Landing Arrives Dec. 1 on ABC

The Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new half-hour animated holiday special, Lanny and Wayne the Christmas Elves in Prep & Landing, is set to air Dec. 1 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.

The special tells the tale of a pair of elves that prepares and secures all the homes around the world for Santa Claus’ annual visit. When one of the elves misses out on a promotion, he’s partnered with a rookie and together they face an expected challenge.

John Lasseter is executive producer on the project, with Dorothy McKim producing and Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton directing.

The special features the voices of Dave Foley, Sarah Chalke and Derek Richardson.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Tech, Animation Giants Converge in Italy for VIEW

VIEW, Italy’s renowned computer conference on digital convergency, will celebrate its 10th anniversary with presentations from the likes of Pixar, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light & Magic, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Rainmaker, Double Negative and Blue Sky Studios.

Set for Nov. 4-7 in Turin, Italy, the conference will feature a keynote address from composer Michael Giacchino, who received an Oscar nomination in 2008 for his score for Ratatouille.

Highlighting the conference are computer graphics pioneers Glenn Entis, who co-founded PDI, was chief visual and technology officer at Electronic Arts, and now heads a digital media business investment fund; and Ken Perlin, 2008 recipient of the computer graphics achievement award from SIGGRAPH and professor in the media research laboratory at New York University.

Other presenters include Industrial Light & Magic’s Roger Guyett, who supervised effects for Star Trek; and Jeff White, associate visual effects supervisor for Transformers 2; Henry LaBounta, chief visual officer at Black Box, an Electronic Arts studio; and EA’s Jonathan Knight, who will present Dante’s Inferno.

Speaking on stereoscopic 3-D are Bob Whitehill, stereoscopic supervisor at Pixar; Jayme Wilkinson, stereoscropic supervisor at Blue Sky Studios; and Rob Bredow, CTO, and Danny Dimian, senior CG supervisor, at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Details on the program and registration can be found at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Comet and Toonzip Hire Alien Babysitters

Korean studio Toonzip has teamed up with Toronto-based Comet Entertainment to produce a new animated series titled Dodopam: Alien Babysitters. The 52 X 13 animated series follows the adventures of five aliens who find themselves in modern-day Manhattan and have to take care of human babies until they can return to their planet.

“This is a great opportunity for us to work with Toonzip to create a cutting-edge project that will not only be entertaining, but will also teach children about the importance of spreading joy and harmony in this world,” says Raquel Benitez, Comet’s CEO. “We’re looking forward to delivering this great CG-animated HD series that keep the whole family hooked on the aliens' adventures.”

Comet’s recent projects include the 2009 animated feature Around the World For Free, the adult toon series Limo Guy and the anthology package, Fantastic Tales. Toonzip also introduced the new CG-animated children’s series Robot Arpo, co-produced with Malyasian studio Centraline at the recent MIPCOM market in France.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

SPIDER-MAN 4 Director Loves the Lizard

MTV News scored an exclusive phone interview with Sam Raimi and took the opportunity to quiz him about the upcoming 'Spider-Man 4'. Specifically, they tried to get the goods on the villain of the piece.

Raimi was mum on the specifics but admitted that he loves the character of The Lizard.

"There's a great story there in the Marvel comic books about Dr. Connors," Raimi said, referring to the scientist (played in previous films by Dylan Baker) who tragically turns himself into a reptilian monster.

Raimi also admitted he's less familiar with the Carnage character, who is a spin-off from part three's villain, Venom. But for this go-round, Raimi aims to return to the finely-honed story-telling that made the first two films great. The villain will act in service to that.

"What we're trying to do right now is really understand the journey Peter is going to go on this time and have the villain maybe be a counter to that growth, something that he has to overcome," Raimi told MTV. "Or maybe he has to grow in a way to overcome the villain, because there always seem to be stories of coming of age, of a young man growing up and learning things about life, so once we are identifying the exact movement that Peter has to grow to, I think the villain—and we're trying this right now; we're trying to choose a villain based on who would be the proper counter to that growth, so we really have dramatic conflict."

Here's the audio of the interview for Raimi's complete comments:

Roland Emmerich still game for Stargate sequel film?

Given the complex mythology built up around Stargate SG-1, Atlantis and now Stargate Universe, it's easy to forget that the whole thing started in 1994 with director Roland Emmerich's movie, starring Kurt Russell as Jack O'Neill and James Spader as Daniel Jackson.

In the years since, Devlin has told us that he still wants to produce the two sequels he and Emmerich always envisioned, and Emmerich told us over the weekend that he's also game, though that means overcoming some rights issues and his natural aversion to doing sequels.

"Whew, it's a tough one," Emmerich told us in an exclusive interview in Jackson Hole, Wyo. "I mean, I constantly keep talking about it with Dean, too. I mean, we also keep talking about an Independence Day sequel, but it's just, like, such a ... tough thing to do in these days."

In 2006, Devlin told us: "We would just continue the mythology of the movie and finish that out. I think the series could still live at the end of the third sequel. So we're going to try to not tread on their stories."

"When we created the original Stargate, we always envisioned it as a trilogy, and, unfortunately, the way in which the movie got made, we didn't really have control over [it]," Devlin added. "I think it will be very exciting to actually get to go do parts two and three."

Last Friday, Emmerich said: "It was probably good that we never did these sequels, because it forced us always to do something new. ... In general, I'm not a big fan of sequels. I'm just not a big fan of sequels. Because it's very rare that a sequel really works for me. Like, for instance, Aliens was a great sequel. But most of the time they're kind of a lesser version of the first one."

Another consideration: Russell is now 58 and Spader is a rotund 49 (as anyone who's seen him on Boston Legal can attest), and that may be a bit long in the tooth.

Not to say they couldn't recast, though, and it would be fascinating to see how Emmerich and Devlin's Stargate mythology would have diverged from the elaborate universe we've seen developed in the TV shows.

Heroes shocker: Original cast member will die soon

For those of you still watching, there's big news about NBC's Heroes: Someone will die!

At least that's what E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos reported:

Sources over on NBC's Heroes confirm to me that a major death is in the works, and this is not one that will go unnoticed by even the most casual fan.

It is huge

Well ... we've heard this kind of thing before. Haven't all them died at one point or another? Only to be brought back to life? Claire? Sen. Petrelli? HRG? Peter? Matt? Niki/Jessica? She really was killed, but Ali Larter is still in the show as another character?

Who are they kidding?

Dos Santos says that the character facing the big dirt nap is male and is one of the original cast.

We're putting our money on poor Greg Grunberg's Matt Parkman, as much as we like him, as he seems to have less and less to do. That, or Zachary Quinto's Sylar, as Zack's got bigger fish to fry these days (hello, Star Trek 2?).

What do you think? Do you even care?

McKellen says which actors are in (and out) of Hobbit

Ian McKellen is expected to reprise his Lord of the Rings role of Gandalf in director Guillermo del Toro's Hobbit movies, and though nothing's official yet, the actor told Empire magazine that he doubts many of his Rings co-stars will appear.

"Unfortunately, there won't be many of the actors going back," he told the magazine. "Unless they're going to put masks on and be disguised as dwarves! Andy Serkis is, at the moment, I think, the only other actor who's doing this film."

Serkis, of course, played Gollum in the Rings movies, and it's hard to imagine any other actor taking on the iconic role.

As for the movies' production, which had been threatened by MGM's financial woes, McKellen said:

"The scripts for the two films will be delivered very soon," he revealed. "Then they'll be budgeted, and then they'll be cast. And they'll be going when they've always said they would be, which is next spring—March or April. Guillermo even told me at one point, 'We're going to film for 383 days.' He's got that artistic autism! [Producer Peter] Jackson's the same; they're very, very, very alike. They also very different, but they've so much in common."

Other Rings actors who are likely to appear in the prequel films include Hugo Weaving as Elrond. Again, nothing's official yet.

Spock pouts! The gag reel from J.J. Abrams' Star Trek

A bootleg gag reel from J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie, which is presumably on the upcoming DVD/Blu-ray, has found its way onto the Internet, and before Paramount got it pulled from YouTube, it wound up on

Click on the link above to watch it before it vanishes from there as well. We'd embed it here, but who needs a movie studio sending cease and desist letters for violating copyright?

The reel of outtakes from Abrams' hit movie contains the usual blown lines, some impolite language, joshing around on set, some dancing, some funny faces, the usual. The Star Trek DVD/Blu-ray drops on Nov. 17.

Ian McKellen Assumes He Won't Be Involved In 'X-Men Origins: Magneto'

Every "X-Men" fan under the sun is waiting to hear what the franchise's next move is going to be. Will Fox pursue "Deadpool" next or will they pursue "X-Men: First Class" instead? Heck, David Goyer recently suggested that "X-Men Origins: Magneto" could be up before too long.

Still, if "Magneto" does make its way to theaters within the next couple of years, it's unlikely that actor Ian McKellen will assume the magnetic mutant's mantle for a fourth time, if only because nobody has supplied him with a screenplay yet.

"There's meant to be a 'Magneto' script floating around," McKellen told Empire Online. "[But] I've not read it, so I suspect it wouldn't involve me."

The acclaimed "X-Men" and "Lord of the Rings" actor acknowledged the already well-publicized idea that "Magneto" would focus on the mankind-hating mutant as a youth, meaning that McKellen's involvement in the project is probably unnecessary.

"I think it would be about the younger Magneto, and the most I could hope for would be to top and tail that," said the actor. "They can't have someone whose face is as lined as mine any longer!"

Sure enough, McKellen and Patrick Stewart were aged down in "X-Men: The Last Stand" thanks to the wonders of modern CGI effects, but that was just a fleeting scene—a whole movie with that technology in effect would be very hard to pull off.

But the actor isn't ruling out a cameo return for "Magneto," particular because Stewart's recent appearance in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" was such a hit.

"Ooh, he was very pleased with himself that he was going in to be in 'Wolverine,'" McKellen said. "It was only an hour's work!"

Ron Moore calls Star Trek's tech "meaningless"

At his recent keynote speech at the New York Television Festival, former Star Trek writer and creator of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica Ron Moore revealed the secret formula to writing for Trek.

He described how the writers would just insert "tech" into the scripts whenever they needed to resolve a story or plot line, then they'd have consultants fill in the appropriate words (aka technobabble) later.

"It became the solution to so many plot lines and so many stories," Moore said. "It was so mechanical that we had science consultants who would just come up with the words for us and we'd just write 'tech' in the script. You know, Picard would say 'Commander La Forge, tech the tech to the warp drive.' I'm serious. If you look at those scripts, you'll see that."

Moore then went on to describe how a typical script might read before the science consultants did their thing:

La Forge: "Captain, the tech is overteching."

Picard: "Well, route the auxiliary tech to the tech, Mr. La Forge."

La Forge: "No, Captain. Captain, I've tried to tech the tech, and it won't

Picard: "Well, then we're doomed."

"And then Data pops up and says, 'Captain, there is a theory that if you tech the other tech ... '" Moore said. "It's a rhythm and it's a structure, and the words are meaningless. It's not about anything except just sort of going through this dance of how they tech their way out of it."

Moore said the retro-technology he used in Battlestar "was really a reaction against Star Trek." He added, "I just decided from the outset that I wanted a phone to look like a phone."

You can watch a video of the complete speech here.

Why you've never seen an Independence Day sequel: $$$

Why has Fox never made a sequel to its surprise $800 million hit Independence Day? In typical Hollywood fashion, it all boils down to deals and money, at least according to ID4 co-writer/director Roland Emmerich, who explained it this way to

Dean Devlin and I are still set to make a sequel likely because we've found some sort of idea and we approached Fox and Fox has not quite figured out how to incorporate Dean's and my deal, and Will's (Smith's) deal. Will wants to do it in some sort of a package they can live with. So it's just been in negotiations now since forever, and naturally Fox says "Why don't you do it without Will Smith?" I said Will is essential for us, for this movie and actually for the audience too.

If the deal stuff can be figured out, Emmerich says he'd love to do ID4 2 and added that he and writer/producer Dean Devlin even have "a very cool" story for it. We say come on, Fox, get it together. In the 13 years since ID4 came out, movie ticket prices have increased more than 60 percent, meaning an ID4 sequel could easily pass the $1 billion mark. Surely there's enough money to go around?

This Daybreakers Poster Shows You A Place You Don't Wanna Be When The World Is Ruled By Vampires...

A strikingly cool poster for Daybreakers...easily one of the finest movie posters I recall seeing in some time...has debuted over at MTV.

You can jump to a larger version of it by clicking the teaser image presented here.

If you haven't seen this film's trailer, check it out HERE. I'm told the film is rather good; certainly looks to have promise.

Will a Millennium movie happen without Chris Carter?

Lance Henriksen, the veteran sci-fi character actor perhaps best known for playing former FBI profiler Frank Black in the '90s TV series Millennium, has been talking about a feature-film follow-up/sequel for years and has reportedly been approached by investors interested in mounting an independent production, though Fox owns the rights.

Now comes news, via ScreenRant, that Fox itself may be considering a new independent movie based on the Chris-Carter-created show, with Henriksen but without Carter (who also created The X-Files and co-wrote and directed last year's flop The X-Files: I Want to Believe).

Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

I have heard rumblings that Fox are interested in bringing Millennium back to screens—possibly without the involvement of Chris Carter—and this independent route would seem like a way of doing so. It's also believed that the studio intends to make another X-Files film, and again it's possible that Carter won't be involved ... .

Now, be aware that this is speculation, but also something that I have heard through the grapevine, so there might be some truth to it.

Fans recall that the show, which aired on Fox 1996-'99, centered on Black, a former FBI investigator with a history of mental issues, who is recruited by the mysterious Millennium Group, a private group of former law-enforcement personnel who investigate crimes of the supernatural but whose true agenda remained murky and had something to do with the coming millennial year (2000, though the actual new millennium kicked off in 2001).

The show had a rocky creative history, owing to changing executive producers (Carter, then former X-Files writers Glen Morgan and James Wong, then Carter again), network interference and a rambling and at times incoherent mythology. The show was canceled before it could wrap up; a 1999 episode of The X-Files, titled "Millennium," brought back Henriksen as Black to put a coda on the Millennium TV series.

ScreenRant suggests that a new independent Millennium movie would be spearheaded by filmmaker Brett A. Hart, who directed Henriksen in the indie feature Bone Dry:

I spoke with Hart who had this to say about the project:

"As a tremendous admirer of "The Millennium Series" I'm of course very intrigued by the recent rumors that there may indeed be a full length feature on the horizon. If any one can get "Millennium" made it's Lance, and it's been a long time coming. It's time to give the fans what they've been patiently waiting to see... More insight into the aberrant world of Frank Black ... while further elevating and merging storylines, characterization and visuals... and finally closure for one of the finest series ever created. Let's hope as the title sequence suggest "The Time is near" ... and as I've already publicly stated ... my passion and conviction for the series is so deep that I'd direct "Millennium—The Movie" for free just to see it on the big screen."

Not sure how a movie would work: The millennial changeover has come and gone, and basing a film on that would be kind of like calling a movie "Y2K." But Henriksen remains a great screen presence, and it would be nice to see him glowering as Frank Black one last time.

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