Tuesday, October 20, 2009

News - 10/20/09...

New 'Astro Boy' Images And Clips Hit The 'Net

"Astro Boy" arrives in theaters this Friday, and the studio tag-team behind it have begun releasing a variety of images from the film and new clips to whet fans' appetites for the adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's classic character.

The latest batch of shots and footage not only contains some cool images from the film, but it also features two of my favorite scenes in the film: Astro Boy's battle with a host of robot gladiators, and his showdown with a nasty, mammoth-sized 'bot in which he discovers that he has machine guns... in his butt.

First, here's that clip of Astro Boy discovering his butt-mounted machine guns:

And for the full gallery of new "Astro Boy" images, click HERE:

"Astro Boy" hits theaters this Friday, October 23.

Framestore Spins Out DJ Hero Intro

While it’s likely nothing this year will best the intro to Beatles: Rock Band, this new intro cinematic for DJ Hero is an entertaining piece of CG animation. It was directed by Marco Puig via Framestore.

Animation Veterans Form Bento Box

Veteran animation executives Scott Greenberg, Joel Kuwahara and Mark McJimsey have struck out on their own to form the new production company Bento Box Entertainment.

The company’s founders bring years of animation experience to the company. Greenberg is former president and COO of Film Roman, Kuwahara is a veteran producer on The Simpsons and McJimsey was a longtime producer on the now-concluded series King of the Hill.

Bento Box’s first project is to produce the upcoming animated series Neighbors from Hell for Twentieth Century Fox TV and DreamWorks Animation. The series is set to premier on cable output TBS in the summer of 2010.

The company, based in Burbank, plans to develop and produce both live-action and animated TV series and films, as well as do work in interactive media.

“Our expertise in animation, visual effects and the digital landscape make us both a uniquely qualified colleague for our studio partners and a logical incubator for original concepts and properties that have multi-platform potential,” says McJimsey. “The animation world in particular has enormous timeline pressure and quality control standards that only a handful of production entities can meet. Our ability to surpass those standards has distinguished our past work and we’re excited to utilize that experience to reach an even wider audience with Bento Box Entertainment.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Neil Patrick Harris Sings Along with the Brave and the Bold

Having attempted to take over the world with song once before in Dr. Horrible’s Sing A Long Blog, Neil Patrick Harris is bringing Broadway to Gotham City for an all-musical episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold airing Oct. 23.

Harris plays a new villain called The Music Meister, who tries to conquer Gotham City with the power of his singing voice. Batman and his team-up colleagues, Black Canary and Green Arrow, have no choice but to respond to the musical villain.

In addition to Harris, the special episodes features — as the heroes’ singing voices — Jeff Bennett as Batman, Grey Delisle as Black Canary and James Arnold Taylor as Green Arrow.

The original score is composed by Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion and Lolita Ritmanis, who form Dynamic Music Partners. Lyrics for the songs were written by Michael Jelenic and James Tucker.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Nick Goes All Out for “Shriek Week”

New episodes of The Troop, SpongeBob SquarePants and The Penguins of Madagascar all are set to help Nickelodeon celebrate Halloween as part of the channel’s “Shriek Week.”

Starting Friday, Oct. 23, Nick and its sister channels and websites will feature new Halloween-themed content and games. A new, Halloween-themed episodes and marathons of the net’s most popular series will air each night through the big day itself on Oct. 31.

Highlights include the premiere of a Halloween-theme episode of The Troop on Oct. 23 at 8 p.m.; spooky premieres Oct. 24 of SpongeBob SquarePants at 10 a.m., The Penguins of Madagascar at 10:30 a.m., and at 8:30 p.m. a new True Jackson, VP; new half-hour Halloween specials Oct. 25 of Back at the Barnyard at 11 a.m. and The Mighty B! at 11:30 a.m.

Nickelodeon will treat preschoolers to a “Haunted Halloween Playdate” on Oct. 26, with brand-new premieres of The Backyardigans at 8:30 a.m. and The Wonder Pets! at 10:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, Nick Jr. will airs “Fall into Autumn,” a 24-hour programming marathon of preschool favorites, filled with pumpkins, ghosts, and haunted houses on Oct. 25, beginning at 6 a.m., and repeating on Halloween.

Nick at Nite will kick off a night of Halloween-themed programming with a brand-new Glenn Martin, DDS Oct. 26 at 8 p.m.

Nicktoons, the 24-hour animation network, will air “Ha Ha Halloween” from Monday, Oct. 26 through Friday, Oct. 30, treating kids to a daily dose of double-trouble with back-to-back episodes of Back at the Barnyard at 9 p.m. and an hour of The Penguins of Madagascar at 10 p.m. On Halloween, Nicktoons will air episodes all day filled with spooky humor from 6 a.m. to midnight.

And TeenNick will offer "Now THAT's Scary" programming, which will include marathons featuring episodes of Degrassi: The Next Generation, Full House, What I Like About You, One on One and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch from Monday, Oct. 26 to Thursday, Oct. 29, starting at 8 p.m. and continues Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31 with afternoon marathons starting at 3 p.m. (ET).

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Contest Lets Fan Design Simpsons Character

The Simpsons is giving one lucky fan the chance to create a character for an upcoming episode of the show.

The contest is now open and will run through 11:59 p.m. EDT (8:59 p.m. PDT) on Oct. 24 at thesimpsons.com.

Executive producer Al Jean and series creator Matt Groening will choose the winning entry. Submissions should describe a character’s traits, name or nickname, age, appearance, occupation and catchphrases. Jean also says it should be human.

The winner — to be announced in mid-November — will get a trip to Los Angeles to work with producers and the show’s animation director.

The character will appear in an episode that features Chris Martin of Coldplay and is currently planned to air Jan. 31, 2010, and also could appear in later episodes.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Luxo Jr. Gets the Chair

(Thanks cartoon brew)

MARY AND MAX Wins Grand Prize at OIAF

The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) comes to an end with the highly anticipated closing ceremonies held this evening at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau. Organizers announced the winners of the official competition during the ceremonies.

This year’s event, held October 14-18, was a tremendous success with packed screenings, sold out workshops, high profile networking events such as the Television Animation Conference and the Recruiting Fair. The Festival is a major international film event that attracts 1500 industry pass holders from across Canada and around the world with a total attendance of over 25,000. Although the final numbers are not officially in, there are strong indications that this year’s Festival reached the highest attendance to date.

The 2009 international jury for Short Program, Student and Commissioned Films include: Amid Amidi (USA), Jim Blashfield (USA) and Suzan Pitt (USA). The international jury for Feature Film Competition include: Thomas Meyer-Hermann (Germany), Christa Moesker (Netherlands) and Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre (Canada).

The Festival has a special jury made up of local kids to select the Best Short Animation Made for Children and the Best Television Animation Made for Children. This year’s kids jury included: Tallie Doyle, Tegwyn Hughes, Jamie McCormick, Felipe Bemfica, Isabelle Birchall, Aditya Mohan, Paris Mullin, Quinn Murphy and Eric Ding.

GRAND PRIZE for Best Animated Feature
Mary and Max
, directed by Adam Elliot, Australia

“The film tells a simple and strong story about friendship, deep understanding of the human condition with all its defects. It is a perfect balance between tragedy and comedy.”

Honourable Mention:
My Dog Tulip
, directed by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, USA

“The jury was profoundly touched by one particular film therefore would like to award an honourable mention. This film has an outstanding style and above all, the way in which it allows the audience to identify with the characters and the relationships.”

Nelvana GRAND PRIZE for Best Independent Short Animation
Kaasündinud Kohustused (Inherent Obligations)
- by Rao Heidmets, Estonia

"We selected Obligations because of its compelling portrayal of sexual politics, its disturbing but effective metaphors and the director's bold and provocative vision."

HIT Entertainment GRAND PRIZE for Best Student Animation
Laska (Chick)
– by Michal Socha, Poland

"This remarkably confident animation takes its exotic graphic style to an extreme as its characters carry out an intense, elegant and brutal mating dance."

GRAND PRIZE for Best Commissioned Animation
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, A Journal Diary)
– by Bastien Dubois, France

"A deeply personal and touching documentary. The film buoyantly realizes 3-D space, and combines a hand-drawn feel with a dimensionality that hovers just off the page."

Best Animation School Showreel
Rhode Island School of Design (USA)

BEST Narrative Short
Please Say Something
– directed by David OReilly, Ireland and Germany

"A film that compels us to reassess our notions of aesthetic execution and beauty in computer animation. The film has a fragmented story structure and surprisingly personal character interactions."

Honourable Mention:
Köögi Dimensioonid (KitchenDimensions)
– directed by Priit Tender, Estonia

"Visions of the impossible arise from daydreams in the kitchen; imaginings are born out of the mundane and every action has its surrealist counterpart; Tender creates an entire parallel universe."

BEST Experimental/Abstract Animation
– directed by Jamie Raap and Henrik Mauler, UK

"A series of lavish and mysterious vignettes which use 3-D animation to suggest sculptural metaphors suspended in space."

Honourable Mention for Passionate Art Making: Myth Labs – by Martha Colburn, Netherlands

"Flying in the face of respectable animation conventions, the director's approach is both aggressive and seductive."

Adobe Prize for BEST High School Animation
Did U See That
– by Yuri Rhee, Ha Jung Kim, Paul Kim and Hyun Jung Lee, Korea Animation High School, South Korea

"With simple and strong line drawings the filmmakers create a modern fairytale."

BEST Undergraduate Animation
The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9!
– directed by Jake Armstrong, School of Visual Arts, USA

"An expertly designed, scripted and animated tale of a space explorer and a monster who just wants to play fetch."

Honourable Mention:
Mak the Horny Mac Daddy
– by Ian Miller, University of the Arts, USA

"Mac Daddy is worth this mention because of its uninhibited expressiveness in animation."

BEST Graduate Animation
– directed by Angela Steffen, Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemburg, Germany

"A moving portrait of a child's vision is created through the rich realization of natural form, dynamic animation and sophisticated design."

BEST Promotional Animation
Nick Idents
– by Ljubisa Djukic, Ole Keune and Bettina Vogel, Dyrdee Media GmbH & Co. KG, Germany

"A funny, spare, well-conceived series of network IDs that use Nick's iconic orange colour to humourous and clever effect."

BEST Music Video
Nullsleep "Dirty ROM Dance Mix" - by Stieg Retlin, USA

"A mix of pulsing 8-bit graphics and glitch imagery provide a jolting backdrop to the bloops and bleeps of video game-inspired music."

BEST Television Animation for Adults
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, A Journal Diary)
– by Bastien Dubois, France

BEST Short Animation Made for Children
Nicolas & Guillemette
, directed by Virginie Taravel, France

Honourable Mention:
Enter the Sandbox
, directed by Kevin Adams, Canada

BEST Television Animation Made for Children
Lost and Found
, directed by Philip Hunt, UK

Honourable Mention:
Tom and the Slice of Bread with Strawberry Jam & Honey 'Tom's Band' / 'Tom and the Nice Family' (Tom und das Erdbeermarmeladebrot mit Honig), directed by Andreas Hykade, Germany

The National Film Board of Canada PUBLIC PRIZE
Madagascar, A Journey Diary (Madagascar, carnet de voyage)
, directed by Bastien Dubois & Guilaine Bergeret, France

Canadian Film Institute Award for Best Canadian Animation
Le Tiroir et le Corbeau (The Drawer and The Crow) – by Frédérick Tremblay, Canada

"A poetic, artfully-realized stop-motion film about alienation, love and memories."

Honourable Mentions:
- For its visual variety and inventive animated interpretation of a classic French Canadian folk song, the CFI Award goes to Vive La Rose, by Bruce Alcock
- For its daring, dynamic graphic visualization of the Billy Collins poem, The Art of Drowning, by Diego Maclean
- For its intelligence, wit, and achieving maximum impact with minimal means, The Paper Prince, by Hamish Lambert

OIAF 09 was held October 14-18, 2009 in Ottawa. Events at the OIAF included screenings, panels, workshops, parties and the Television Animation Conference. The OIAF is a leading competitive animation film festival, featuring cutting edge programming, catering to industry executives, trend setting artists, students and animation fans. For more information about the OIAF, please visit www.animationfestival.ca.

Kirstie Kelly & Disney Team for Wedding Gowns Inspired by "Princess & the Frog"

Disney Consumer Products and fashion designer Kirstie Kelly will be producing a couture wedding gown inspired by Princess Tiana, the newest Disney Princess and the star of the upcoming The Princess and the Frog. The gown will join a lineup of wedding gowns inspired by other Disney Princesses, including Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Princess Jasmine, and Belle.

"Handy Manny" Begins Third Season on November 7, 2009

Disney Channel will premiere the third season of Handy Manny on Saturday, November 7, 2009, at 8:30 AM (Eastern/Pacific). The Emmy-nominated pre-school series will introduce 10 new tool characters and also feature a second prime-time special episode. Guest stars this season include Rosario Dawson as a marine biologist, Dale Earnhardt Jr. as a race car driver, Jim Belushi as a drawbridge operator and Giada De Laurentiis as the owner of a pizza parlor.

Upcoming (and New) in North America (and Other English Language Material

Ghibli World reports Paradiso Films, responsible for Studio Ghibli releases in the Netherlands and Belgium, have announced a Blu-ray release for Miyazaki Hayao's Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away).

With Ponyo's Japanese Blu-ray release set on December 8 and the US and Australian release recently postponed, its release date of November 19 would mean their Spirited Away Blu-ray release would be the world's first Studio Ghibli full length feature Blu-ray release.

Paradiso have informed GhibliWorld.com that "it will be an upscaled version of our current master".

According to Hollywood Report UTA has set their sights on Voltron, which a plans for video game and merchandising deals along with "a deal on an animated cable series, which is expected to be imminent."

From the Hollywood Reporter post

The agency hopes Voltron's widespread brand recognition and elaborate mythology, which have served properties like "Transformers" well but doesn't necessarily exist with other board games and toy properties in development, will appeal to audiences and executives.

Upcoming in Japan


Studio Ghibli's Toshio Suzuki has put out the teaser that the renowned home of Hayao Miyazaki's next project will be from a director who has not previously headed a studio effort.

Details are expected to be revealed in December.

Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Goro Miyazaki are also working on projects.

Buzz suggests that the new director may be Hiromasa Yonebayashi.

See Ghibi World's report here

Some have mentioned that the still unnamed director is Yonebayashi Hiromasa, who for example earlier worked as a key animator on Miyazaki Hayao's Gake no ue no Ponyo and Hauru no Ugoku Shiro and as an assistant animation director on Miyazaki Goro's Gedo Senki. Suzuki Toshio is said to have made a comment on this in an interview with him that appeared in the March edition of the Chunichi Dragons Official Fan Club Newsletter. This has not yet been confirmed though.

Nausicaa.net on Yonebayashi's Spirited Away work


Progress has been made on the Studio Bones/Stan Lee collaberation. The anime subcontractor Studio Wanpack reports that it produced the key drawings for the 12th installment of the Heroman anime


Production I.G and TransArts are developing a feature adaptation of Loups-Garous with Blood+'s Jun’ichi Fujisaku directing

The Business

Matt Alt comments on Japanese article "'There's Nothing Worth Watching! The Reasons Behind the Anime Industry Slump"

Cyzo magazine lays down the law with a laundry list of complaints about this season's lackluster anime offerings. "Everything's a sequel," laments an anonymous industry insider quoted in the article. "That means they're basically deliberately ignoring anyone who didn't get into a show the first season."

The superficial issue is the increasing number of short-run series. In the anime industry, a year's broadcast run is broken down into three-month chunks called ??? ("kuuru"), borrowed from the French word "cours" ("course"). A three-month "course" generally consists of thirteen episodes. In years past, a yearlong, four-course run of fifty-plus episodes was commonplace. But these days, most shows are petering out in two courses, and increasingly more with just one.

also on Cyzo's "The Future and Reality of the Anime Industry Visible in 'Databasing,' 'Regional Branding'

Are furry mascots and Japan's countryside the future of Japanese anime...? In the short term, at any rate, the answer appears to be "yes."

Hollywood Reporter on the history of Imagi's Astro Boy project - including the predictable revlation that a sequel could be in the works if the first is successful.

Anime News Network has presented a translated looks at statements made by Square Enix producer Kouji Taguchi (Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Kuroshitsuji, Saki) concerning the buisness of anime and manga.

Among his assertions:

* - Square Enix has made about 30 titles in the last eight years, but not a single one lost money for Square Enix.

* - Compared to games, using anime in the publishing business is actually much easier.

* - One reason manga does not sell well outside Japan is the relative lower amounts of cash that children have

'Do You Remember Love?' Composer Kazuhiko Katoh Found Hanged

Anime News Network reports that Kazuhiko Katoh, the co-founder of two musical bands and the composer of the main theme songs for The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? and Windaria, was found hanged in his hotel room in Nagano Prefecture on Saturday. He was 62. The local authorities believe he had committed suicide, due to two copies of a last will that he reportedly had left in his room.

And the Award (or Nomination) Goes To...

Via Anime News Network - Mamoru Hosoda's Summer Wars anime feature has won the highest award within the Anima't section at this year's Sitges film festival

Green Tokyo Gundam Project's 18-meter-tall (59-feet-tall), "life-size" Gundam statue won one of this year's Best 15 Good Design Awards in Tokyo on October 1.

CNN International, UNESCO, and the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF)'s nominations for the 2009 Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) for Best Animated Feature Film include
Mamoru Hosoda and MADHOUSE's Summer Wars
Mamoru Oshii and Production I.G's The Sky Crawlers
Yoshiharu Ashino and Studio 4°C's First Squad - The Moment Of Truth

The Russian film Pro Fedota-Streltsa, Udalogo Molodtsa (The Tale Of Soldier Fedot, The Daring Fellow) also received a nomination in the category. The ceremony for the third annual APSA will be held on November 26 on Australia's Gold Coast.

The Piracy Thing

Though we've talked about internet pirates before, the IATSE is focussing on it as never before, as are the talent guilds. And it isn't just them:

Piracy is the entertainment industry's biggest headache, according to two of its most prominent players -- WME topper Ari Emanuel and Walt Disney chairman Robert Iger.

"It's really important for us to get into a discussion about piracy because if we don't get a handle on it, the industry will go away," Emanuel declared ...

"In South Korea, it obliterated the secondary market so much so that we closed our home video operations," Iger added ...

There is a tendency among the world's population to take a "who cares?" attitude toward the piracy thing. IA officers, attending conferences overseas, report that lots of foreign officials maintain a "If big American conglomerates get ripped off by piracy, that's a good development, yes?"

In point of fact, the development sucks, because the final outcome will be that the movie and television businesses end up going the way of the record industry, watching their business models get shredded, witnessing entertainment profits shrink to non-existence.

For citizens not in the movie and teevee business, this negative outcome would be an inconvenience. For those working in features and television, it would mean full-blown disaster. The wage and residual structures that have existed for half a century would slowly dissolve, the studios would restructure, and the pension and health plans that entertainment employees have relied on for five and a half decades would weaken and shrink, perhaps irreversibly.

So yeah. Internet piracy could end up being a major deal.

The problem is, none of the conglomerates really know how to effectively combat this big, ugly vulture. As internet broadband increases around the globe, more and more people dip into the deep trough of content and help themselves without paying a centavo or pfennig. It's just Rupert, Bob Iger, and Sumner Redstone after all, and they're already rich. So who cares?

Welll, anybody who works in the entertainment business, that's who. Because if there's no enforcement of copyright law, if internet pirates remain beyond the reach of law enforcement or significant penalties (Big fines? Long jail sentences?) employees in the movie/t.v. biz are going to be in deeper trouble than they already are.

And anybody who is paying attention knows they're not in the catbird seat now.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

A Fine Example of "Unfair"

Since we're talking about bad and unfair things ....

[The American Family Association] is slamming 7-Eleven for choosing to stock the November issue of Playboy, which will feature cartoon character Marge Simpson on the cover.

"Most American dads know the dangers that porn represents to young males," AFA Special Projects Director Randy Sharp said in a press release. "It’s irresponsible of 7-Eleven to display porn in front of boys who pop into 7-11s for a hot dog or a Slurpee."

Marge Simpson? Porn? I think not.

Besides, I believe it to be a good thing that "This is the closest [little Alex and young Johnny] will ever get to finding out if the carpet really does match the blue drapes." Don't you?

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Motion Comix!

The L.A. Times (and You Tube) get a bit breathless as they tell us of the Next. New. Thing.

The future is now for motion comics

...[W]hat is that, a moving comic book? Yep! But isn't that ... animation?

Actually NO. Animation, as it is defined today, is hundreds of thousands of animation cells drawn by a studio of animation artists who adapt ONE creator's work to a simplified version -- a version that has as few actual lines as possible. Done well, it can be brilliant -- BUT, it can never be the original artist's work ...

On [October 28] the first "true" motion comic, the first issue of Marvel's
"Astonishing X-Men," will be presented in a world premiere at 14th Street-Union Square as part of MarvelFest NYC 2009. It will be outdoors and projected -- yes, I did just say "projected" -- on the side of the massively large, now closed, Virgin Megastore ....

Actually, YEAH. It is animation. Slightly different animation than we've been used to, but animation.

See, there was this other cartoonist/ comics artist, big in his day, who invented the whole genre. He did stuff like this:

All hand-drawn by one artist, just like "moving comic books." And if you can find people who think this isn't animation, you send them to me and I'll help them get their heads screwed on right.

Motion Comics. That art-form the old comics artist Winsor McCay was practicing a century ago ... back when he invented it.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

'Wolverine 2' Will Feature New Characters And New Fighting Styles, Says Producer

It's already well-known that Hugh Jackman wants to bring Logan to Japan for "Wolverine 2," reportedly following the storyline from the Japan-set Chris Claremont and Frank Miller comic book run.

That's definitely still the plan according to producer Lauren Shuler Donner, who recently gave a massive update on the "X-Men" film universe to Empire Online.

Donner went into such detail on the "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" sequel's plotline that she even called out specific new characters.

"This movie will really focus on the relationship between Wolverine and Mariko, the daughter of a Japanese crime lord, and what happens to him in Japan," said the producer.

According to Donner, "Wolverine 2" will not only boast the exotic new locale for everybody's favorite fast-healing mutant, it'll also showcase a new fighting style for the character.

"Wolverine will be fighting in a different style to what we've seen before," she described. "Mariko's father has this stick-like weapon, so Wolverine will have to fight against that. There'll be samurai, ninja, katana blades, different forms of martial arts — mano-a-mano, extreme fighting."

The sequel, which Donner described as "the furthest along of all the X-Men projects on the boil," is likely to shoot in Japan due to Fox's desire to create the most authentic film possible.

"Also, by the way, we are looking to have the Japanese Fox executives involved in helping and counseling us, because it's a different culture and we don't want to portray the way they speak, dress and act in an inaccurate way," she added. "I think it's likely the characters will speak English rather than Japanese with subtitles."

EXCLUSIVE: Sam Raimi Confirms Bruce Campbell Will Have 'Meaty Role' In 'Spider-Man 4'

As we reported last week, much about "Spider-Man 4" is still in flux: Gary Ross is currently hard at work on a draft of the script after getting notes from director Sam Raimi and they claim they're still figuring out which villain makes the most sense to compliment Peter Parker's character growth in the picture. What's more, beyond the return of franchise stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, few decisions about the cast have been made.

All of which makes comments that Raimi's buddy Bruce Campbell made last month extremely interesting, when he told Access Hollywood he'd have a major role in the new film.

When MTV News had a chance to talk to Raimi, of course we needed to know if Campbell was speaking the truth. After sneaking into cameos in the first three "Spider-Man" flicks, has the "Evil Dead" star really nabbed a major part in the fourth installment?

As soon as I asked Raimi this question, he burst into laughter, as you can hear if you click on the video in this post. "I promised him we would write something because I really love putting him in the pictures," he then said. "I promised him a good, meaty role."

So there's your confirmation that Campbell will indeed have a significant part in "Spider-Man 4." But might that mean he'll play a villain—possibly Mysterio—as some web speculation has suggested? As of now, nothing is set in stone.

Of what role the actor will eventually play, Raimi admitted, "I don't even know what it is yet."

New 'Iron Man 2' Action Figures Revealed

When it comes to discovering subtle movie spoilers, action figure fans have learned to turn to toy shelves. That's why when these "Iron Man 2" toy images surfaced, it was worth taking a close look to see if the plastic articulated any new information about one of 2010's most anticipated super hero films.

Marvelousnews has a look at the toys, revealing Iron Man Mark I and Iron Man Mark II as the first action figures ready for public view.

Both armors appeared in Iron Man's cinematic debut in 2008, meaning that while they're not likely to make an active return to the franchise, they'll help flesh out Tony Stark's armory.

The new toys don't appear to reveal many details about the plot of the upcoming sequel, but the box art does seem to cement the subtle changes in Stark's Iron Man armor – namely the new triangular chest piece. While the circular chest piece from the first film fit around Stark's life-sustaining arc reactor, the triangle shape might suggest the movie presence of the armored avenger's signature "uni-beam" laser weapon.

Standing at just under four inches tall, the movie franchise's smaller scale coincides with Hasbro's recent line of Marvel Universe action figures, meaning that Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark suit won't clash with his comic book counterpart's in terms of size.

Hasbro hasn't released further official character announcements, but if the "Iron Man 2" trailers are any indication, Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Don Cheadle as War Machine seem like shoe-ins to receive the toy treatment. Whatever the case, Iron Man toy collectors will face plenty of potential plastic purchases in 2010.

Who is most likely to die on Heroes?

Last week we reported that a Heroes shocker was in the works and an original cast member would die soon. Indeed, the Heroes writers are killing off a major character who, as E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos reported, is male and was part of the original cast.

We chatted with Heroes executive producer Adam Armus, and he says the rumor is true. "We always pull surprises on Heroes. That's all I have to say. It is an epic battle. It's an epic struggle between two very well-loved characters, and it's going to be really compelling," says Armus.

Armus added: "To say goodbye to one of those people, it's really painful for us. It's really a hard thing to do... We have a deep love for the actors and for the characters, and, you know, these are families. These are real tragedies to get over if you do kill some of these people," he says. He also promises that no actors were actually harmed in the making of the series.

So who will actually bite the big one, hit the dust, check out, take a dirt nap, kick the bucket, get taken for a ride, be sent to sleep with the fishes, end up six feet under or cash in their chips? We rounded up the most plausible theories being discussed and ranked them from most likely to least likely, along with insightful comments from regular Heroes watchers assessing the pros and cons of each:

1. Matt Parkman (played by Greg Grumberg)
Why it could, should be Matt:
Smm comments, "Suppose Matt takes himself out to protect everyone from the 'evil' Sylar in his head."
CH comments, "I figure it's Matt. Once Sylar gets his memory back (and you know he's going to) he's going to want revenge on the man who locked him up inside his own mind."
Greg Hill comments, "It has to be Matt Parkman **** he's had it coming since he died in the first episode of Lost (he was the pilot). Come on Matt **** die with dignity *"

Will it be Matt? Matt's mental battle with Sylar makes him a good candidate to die. He's not already dead or dying, like other characters we could name, so it wouldn't be cheating and there would actually be a surprise if he died. We actually like Matt, but with head Sylar tormenting him, it's not looking good for him to live happily ever after with the wifey and baby.

2. Nathan Petrelli (played by Adrian Pasdar)
Why it could, should or won't be Nathan:
Devon comments, "I think the obvious answer is Nathan. I mean... he's already dead. And now he's been shot up and Sylar has regained his body, and there's supposed to be this big arc with Sylar joining the circus as he struggles to remember who he is... so where does that leave Nathan? Dead."
Mamatink123 comments, "Duh, its Nathan, he no longer has a body to be in."
Jorge Jose Herrera comments, "Kristin said that it was shocking. Nathan and Hiro getting killed off is not shocking. Nathan is already dead. All they will do is stop using Adrian Pasdar. Hiro has the brain tumor, so I expect him to die soon. My money is on Peter, HRG or Sylar."

Will it be Nathan? Nathan is a popular choice, but he is indeed already dead. He died presumably for real last year, and then Nylar (or Nathan/Sylar) even was shot and buried again this last week. And since he woke up as Sylar and went to the carnival, it seems like a good possibility we might be saying goodbye to Nathan this year. Although you never know. It's not much of a surprise if either Nathan or Sylar dies, since Zachary Quinto's movie career is very hot right now.

3. Sylar (played by Zachary Quinto)
Why it could, should or won't be Sylar:
Sting comments, "Everyone knows it's Sylar they just don't want to face the facts. Sylar character is pretty much at the end of his cycle theres not much they can do with him. They tried killing for powers every season. They tried good sylar twice. They tried powerless sylar. they tried unbeatable Sylar. They tried two sylars. Now theres nothing left after this story for him. It's a warp. The only other main characters it could likely be is Hrg or Peter because Nathan is dead and we would see hiro or Mohinder coming."
lethargic comments, "The rumor has been out there for a while now that Hiro will go back to save Charlie from Sylar and end up killing him, which would result in changing almost everything that has happened since the first season."
wildbuf says, "If it's Sylar or Claire remember: 'If they still have their head, they ain't really dead!'"
Meg comments, "Sylar wasn't an original cast member. He didn't show up (in the flesh) until the seventh or eighth episode and he wasn't part of the main cast until season two."

Will it be Sylar? Indeed, Sylar was talked about, but didn't show up 'til later in season one. So does he count as an original cast member? Beyond that, co-executive producer Armus states that it will be an "epic struggle between two very well-loved characters." Is Sylar a well-loved character? Or is he a character we love to hate? Losing Sylar would be a major surprise, and he's a strong possibility, considering that carny Samuel has potential to take over the villain business. And again, Quinto might just want out, making Sylar a strong candidate to die ... again.

4. Noah Bennet, aka HRG (played by Jack Coleman)
Why it could, should or won't be Noah:
Doc comments, "My money's on Noah Bennet. Makes perfect sense in terms of isolating Claire."
VichusSmith comments, "I think it'll be Noah. Really, where does he have to go from here?"
Mike comments, "This thing with Hiro having a brain tumor, and Nathan's 'kind-of-dead, kind-of-not' have to be curveballs to throw everyone off the trail. Killing off Noah would be pretty huge."

Will it be Noah? While HRG isn't involved in much of anything involving an epic struggle these days, the death of his character would be a major surprise and would draw Claire back into the hero business in a flash. So perhaps that epic struggle is coming, or perhaps HRG is safe.

5. Mohinder Suresh (played by Sendhil Ramamurthy)
Why it could, should or won't be Mohinder:
starwarsfans comments, "Have you noticed Suresh hasn't been in ALL season? It HAS to be Suresh."
seekupjw comments, "Here's who won't be killed off: Peter, Sylar, Hiro, HRG, Parkman. The rest * crap shoot. My money is on Suresh. He's been absent from the show this season aside from Peter mentioning him once referring to his ability. He's been a major player throughout the entire series until they ruined his character a season or so ago by giving him powers and turning him into a douche. I'll bet they can't figure out how to write him in so he's out. And Nathan is ALREADY dead."

Will it be Mohinder? Oh, one can only hope, considering we've never recovered from the creepy Suresh of the past. Mohinder hasn't been around these days, but Armus promises he will return and his absence will be explained. If he returns only to get killed off, that could work, depending on how they do it and where that epic struggle comes in. Still, we're putting our money on a more major character at this point.

6. Hiro Nakamura (played by Masi Oka)
Why it could, should or won't be Hiro:
Heather comments, "I'm gonna guess Hiro considering he used to be a fan favorite and he has that whole brain tumor thing going on."
Vicki comments, "It must be Hiro because he's already sick. I'd rather it by Sylar though. He's so mean!!!"
Steve says, "It's Hiro...they've been saying he's got a brain tumor all season...it's a no brainer...no pun intended."
Gill Avila says, "Can't be Hiro or Ando. In the future Hiro outgrows his accent and Hiro and Ando duke it out."

Will it be Hiro? Let's put it this way: If it isn't Hiro, it's time he got better. If it is Hiro, he's been dying for a while. Again, he'd need to get into an epic struggle, but that's possible and he is well-loved. The rumor about him going back to save Charlie and killing Sylar has possibilities, and it would probably only take a drop of Clair's blood to fix him. One way or another, we think Hiro's going to stay around.

7. Peter Petrelli (played by Milo Ventimiglia)
Why it could, should or won't be Peter:
Kibler comments, "I think Hiro and Nathan would be the obvious choices, so if it's a shocking death, I'd go with Peter or HRG."
Rose comments, "I think it may be Peter. I love his character and he's been getting the shaft since he lost his powers. He did not have alot of screen time in the last few seasons, not like he did in season one. I would really miss him. I don't think Hiro because that would be too obvious. Maybe he will time travel and fix himself before he gets a tumor."
Someone comments, "Please be Peter, please, please, please!"

Will it be Peter? Well, Peter dying would be a big surprise. It'd be a little too big and it seems unlikely. However, if Nathan dies, it would have big repercussions for Peter and Mommy Dearest.

8. Ando Masahashi (played by James Kyson Lee)
Why it could, should or won't be Ando:
Nancy comments, "It's got to be Ando. He's been on since the beginning but always as a sidekick. Losing him will be sad but maybe then Hiro will learn english and no more subtitles."
OurPrecious comments, "It's going to be a cop-out and be Ando."
Trudi G comments, "I reckon it's gonna be Ando * I mean, he's all set to have a happy future with Hiro's sister, and that can't happen, lol!"

Will it be Ando? We do like Ando. But let's face it, if he died only Hiro would notice. Well, him and the people who do the subtitles.

Who do you think it's going to be?

(Thanks SciFi Wire)

Megan Fox Changes Her Tune on Transformers.

Looks like Megan Fox is done trashing Transformers.

While promoting Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen earlier this summer, the actress, 23, said on CBS' Early Show that the sequel made no sense and could cause "a migraine headache." She later dissed director Michael Bay, calling him "Hitler" and "a nightmare to work for." Her remarks prompted unnamed crew members to post online that Fox is "dumb-as-a-rock."

But while accepting the sci-fi actress award Saturday at Spike TV's 4th annual Scream Awards in Los Feliz, Calif., Fox told the crowd she appreciated all the film has done for her.

"I don't usually do this, but I wanted to say something," she began. "There have been a lot of false reports about how I feel about this movie. I just want to be very clear that I've always felt I'm a very ordinary part of an extraordinary film."

She added that "the movie took me out of obscurity and gave me a career, and I'm completely grateful to everyone involved with this franchise."

She seems to have patched things up with the film's director, who has revealed the film's third installment will be out July 1, 2010.

"Megan Fox, welcome back," he recently wrote on his online forum. "I promise no alien robots will harm you in any way during the production of this motion picture. Please consult your Physician when working under my direction because some side effects can occur, such as mild dizziness, intense nausea, suicidal tendencies, depression, minor chest hair growth, random internal hemorrhaging and inability to sleep."

No comments: