Thursday, October 29, 2009

News - 10/29/09...

MightyMoney Team Deposits Octokids Short

If you’re easily offended, then boy do I have the show for you. Actually, please power down your computer and do the laundry. Your gentele sensibilities are no longer needed at this website. The rest of us are about to watch the first episode of Octokids, a re-enactment of the actual, fabricated events surrounding Nadya Suleman’s birth to octuplets. The series is the creation of Steven Chunn, Abed Gheith and Sevan Najarian, who were all part of the House of Cosbys team. Since then, they’ve formed

Wizz Folds Up Origami Spot For Orange

For a recent French Orange campaign, Thomas Tyman and his team at Wizz merged new technology with time-honored techniques. They produced traditional and CG animation, and then project it, frame-by-frame, onto actual paper origami. The agency on the job was Publicis Conseil Paris and Emmanuelle Walker also worked on the project as a 2D animator.

Ice Age 3 DVD Animatic Clip

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a worldwide box office phenomenon. By the end of the year, it will likely be the highest-grossing animated film of all time, eclipsing Shrek 2. It’s already the 3rd highest grossing film in the international market, only exceeded by Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. So it’s safe to assume this 3rd Ice Age film will sell like gangbusters on DVD. It hit the shelves yesterday, and here’s a clip from the animatic:

Monsters Floats DreamWorks Profits

An unexpectedly strong performance from Monsters vs. Aliens brightened up the third quarter results for DreamWorks Animation.

DVD sales of the film helped the company post a $19.6 million profit on revenues of $135 million.

That’s a 48 percent drop in profits and 11 percent in revenues from the third quarter of 2008, though this year Monsters vs. Aliens is the studio’s only release this year while last year the company was riding income from hits Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar: Escape to Africa.

The company has overall done well in the down economy, its stock gaining 85% since February’s all-time low.

The studio’s lineup for next year will be more robust, with How to Train Your Dragon due in March, followed by Shrek Forever After in May and Oobermind in November.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Foothill Signs Gododo Partners at MIPCOM

Foothill Entertainment teamed up with Neptuno Films and Title Entertainment to co-produce the original animated series Gododo.

The companies reached the agreement at MIPCOM 2009.

Gododo is a series about the last surviving dodo, who along with his friend Ducky, follow the arrows through a series of funny adventures. Ian Ellery and Guy Hallifax of the U.K.-Canadian team Phew!! created the series.

“We are enormously happy to have signed our deal with Neptuno and Title at MIPCOM for Gododo,” says Jo Kavanagh-Payne, president of Foothill. “Both companies are extremely talented and we know they will be ideal partners for us on this unique series.”

Neptuno Films was established in 1991 and is one of the largest and most prolific animation studios in Europe, chosen by Animation Magazine as one of the top 10 international animation studios outside of the United States.

Title was founded in 2004 by Canadian industry veterans Frank Taylor and Dulcie Clark and produces a wide array of programming across several genres.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Tinker Bell Named U.N. Ambassador of Green

Tinker Bell, the beloved pixie from Walt Disney’s Peter Pan and her own line of animated DVD movies, has received a unique honor for a cartoon by becoming a United Nations Honorary Ambassador of Green.

The honor was bestowed on the character, who stars in the just-released DVD and Blu-ray feature Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, at a ceremony Sunday at the United Nations building in New York by Kiyo Akasaka, the U.N. under-secretary-general for communications and public information.

Also attending were Lost Treasure director Klay Hall, producer Sean Lurie, and voice actors Mae Whitman (Tinker Bell) and Raven Symone (Iridessa).

Disney’s Tinker Bell was named Honorary Ambassador of Green by the U.N. Under-Secretary-General Kiyo Akasaka (r.), with Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure director Klay Hall (l.), and producer Sean Lurie (far l.) on Oct. 25.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Comedy Central Takes White’s Hounds

Comedian Ron White’s animated project Hounds has found a home at Comedy Central.

Described in The Hollywood Reporter as a “blue-collar Southern neo-gothic comedy,” White will serve as co-executive producer and will voice a character named Chicken who mentors relatives and friends in a small town.

Chris Thompson is on board to write the project.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Magoo’s Christmas Carol panel in NYC

The Paley Center for Media on 52nd Street will be hosting a screening and panel discussion celebrating The First Christmas Special: Revisiting Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm. Following a screening of the show, a panel including animator/author Darrell Van Citters; Judy Levitow, daughter of Magoo’s director Abe Levitow; and Marie Matthews, Voice of “Young Scrooge”, will examine the making of the program and its place in television history. Reserve tickets here.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Mighty Mouse - the New Adventures on DVD

Here it comes to save your day.

This past year I’ve been working with CBS Video and Paramount Home Entertainment on compiling the Ralph Bakshi/John Kricfalusi Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures complete series DVD set — and now you can pre-order it on It’ll be released on January 5th 2010 and bonus materials include commentary by John Kricfalusi, Tom Minton, Mike Kazaleh and Kent Butterworth; three original Terry Toons cartoons (1943’s He Dood It Again with original “Super Mouse” titles, the 1945 Oscar nominated Gypsy Life, and one of the first cartoons Bakshi ever animated on, from 1961, Mysterious Package); and a bonus behind the scenes documentary, Breaking the Mold: the Re-Making of Mighty Mouse with Ralph, John K., Bruce Timm, Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Vicki Jenson, Libby Simon, Mike Kazaleh, Kent Butterworth, Tom Minton, etc.

The 1987-88 series has been beautifully restored and will be released uncut, and the documentary contains much rare behind-the-scenes footage and commentary. Take it from me - this is a must-have. Mike Kazaleh designed the wrap around cover (above, click image to see it larger).

(Thanks cartoon brew)

End of Days

I went to Universal Animation Studios (formerly Universal Cartoon Studios) today. Boxes were stacked in the hallways. Most of the offices were empty. One of the remaining staffers said to me:

"We're finishing the last episodes of Curious George. All the shows have been shipped now, and the last designer is finishing up this week or next. We'll be in post on the show until next March, but we'll be moving to a corner of the black tower's twenty-fifth floor in the next few weeks. Universal will be renting out most of the floor to somebody else."

"... I don't think Universal is making any announcements about closing Universal Animation Studio. They're just not going to have any shows, or do any productions, or have any executives. Recently they haven't had much interest in doing animation. They want to pick up produced projects, but they aren't going to be creating anything here ..."

Which is a shame, since UAS has done some pretty good work over the years.

The studio came into existence in the early nineties, a couple of years after Warner Bros. Animation sprang back to life with Tiny Toons, and Disney TVA was moving into high gear. The last of the slower-witted congloms realized there were tidy sums to be made in television animation. Universal set up its own studio, followed by Viacom with Nick a couple of years later.

Universal, back in the day, proclaimed that it wanted to be a major television producer, and it recruited artists and directors from Warners and Disney. But outside of the perennial money spinner Land Before Time, nothing really took off. U never achieved its own Pinky and the Brain or Duck Tales, never became a major teevee animation producer.

And it's always seemed a little sad to me, because the potential was there. The place just never got running on all eight cylinders.

Adios, Universal Cartoon/Animation Studios. It was fun while it lasted.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

No Monsters V. Aliens II

Today DreamWorks Animation reported that less money was rolling in. No big surprise there, since no newer features have been released in recent months.

No big surprise there. This also wasn't a huge surprise:

... [Chief Executive Jeffrey] Katzenberg also disclosed that the studio did not plan to produce a sequel to "Monsters vs. Aliens," which generated $380 million at the box office but did not fare well in some key international markets. Asked why, he said: "I'd like to tell you there's a perfectly rational, clear and easy answer as to why not, but there isn't."

“There was enough of a consensus from our distribution and marketing folks in certain parts of the world that we would be pushing a boulder up a hill ...”

I've got an explanation: The Three Dee was first rate, but the characters, gags and story didn't gel and catch fire the way Kung Fu Panda did. Mostly, however, MvA was America-centric. How many people in Asia or Europe know what the hell Area Fifty-one is? Or care? And American troops and American Presidents aren't quite the ... uh ... crowd pleasers in other countries that they used to be. And Monsters had plenty of all those things.

(You'll note that the picture did fine in the U.S. of A. But not so fine everywhere else.)

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Comedy Central Does Goode, Circles Sit Down

Cable network Comedy Central has picked up rerun rights to all 13 episodes of Mike Judge’s animated series The Goode Family.

The network also is in talks with Fox for the same rights to another short-lived broadcast series, Sit Down, Shut Up!

Goode Family, which aired over the summer on ABC, will appear on Comedy Central in January. Variety reports Comedy Central picked up the show because it was not widely seen during it network run and to get into business with Judge, creator of Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill.

Sit Down, Shut Up! was developed by Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz from a live-action Australian TV series set in a high school.

Variety also reports that Comedy Central has no plans to produce more episodes of either series. The channel recently commissioned new episodes of the hit animated series Futurama due to strong ratings for repeats of the former Fox show.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

VES Awards Seek Student Submissions

Submissions are now open for the Visual Effects Society’s second annual Student Award, which is sponsored by Autodesk.

The award is open to visual effects created for a student project at an accredited school. Winners receive a free license to Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max or Autodesk Softimage, as well as airfare and two nights’ accommodations to attend the eighth annual VES Awards ceremony, set for Feb. 28 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Beverly Hills.

“The Visual Effects Society’s second annual student award is a platform for students to showcase their work, and for the community to celebrate the next generation of visual effects heroes,” said Stig Gruman, vice president of the Autodesk Digital Entertainment Group. “I encourage students to submit for the award – in addition to publicizing their talent, it could open doors to new opportunities,”

Deadline for students to submit their work is Nov. 30. Rules and procedures can be found at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

9 Story’s Almost Naked Animals, Wibbly Pig Land Abroad

Toronto-based studio 9 Story Entertainment has secured broadcast deals with top global broadcasters for its animated series Almost Naked Animals and Wibbly Pig.

Almost Naked Animals (52 x 11 min.) has sold to Canal+ (France), ABC (Australia) and Noga (Israel Based on the popular website of the same name created by Noah Z. Jones, the animated series has been commissioned by Canada’s YTV and is scheduled for a fall 2010 premiere.

Meanwhile, Wibbly Pig, a new 52 x 10 min. animated series based on Mick Inkpen’s books, has been sold to CBeebies (BBC Worldwide) Latin America. Targeting 2-5 year-olds, the series has commissions from the BBC for CBeebies, in addition to both TVO and Knowledge Network in Canada.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Rare Walt Disney Letter Up for Auction

A rare 1935 letter Walt Disney wrote on studio letterhead to a man in Minnesota is up for auction and expected to sell for between $3,500 and $5,000.

The letter, in which Disney informs the recipient his submission of musical comedy material does not fit in with the company’s plans, is typed on a paper with the orange and black Mickey Mouse Productions-Silly Symphony logos. It is signed by Disney in ink using what is likely a cartoonist’s pen. The lot also includes a carbon of the letter Disney is responding to and the original envelope with stamp attached.

The rare example of this letterhead is part of an auction that includes 600 lots being presented by Cohasco of Yonkers, N.Y. and closing Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. EST.

The full catalog of the auction, including a full description of the Disney letter and an image, can be seen at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Briefly: 2009 EFA Awards; ATHF Holiday Album; West & Plympton Together Again

* The Europe Film Academy has announced the nominees for the best animated feature film for the 2009 European Film Awards: Finland's Niko & The Way To The Stars, Ireland's The Secret of Kells, and France's Mia And The Migoo. [Hollywood Reporter]

* Aqua Teen Hunger Force will release their first holiday album Have Yourself a Meaty Little Christmas on November 3, 2009. [Boise Weekly]

* Kanye West and Bill Plympton will collaborate again on an illustrated book of West's lyrics titled Through the Wire: The Words and Lyrics of Kanye West. The book is due out in November; Plympton had previously done the animated music video for West's "Heard 'Em Say." [Publishers Weekly]

Does Nickelodeon's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Deal Mean The End of Mirage?

Ever since the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” debuted in 1984, their original adventures have always had a home at Mirage Studios. However, with the recent sale of the “Turtles” rights to Nickelodeon, the future of Mirage Studios is no longer clear.

In a post on Newsarama, Tristan Jones—the current writer of the “Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” comics—revealed that Mirage Studios, Inc. will close on December 31, 2009.

“The current crew will become independent contractors on January 1 to get the final issues out,” Jones said. “Mirage will continue to publish ‘Tales’ until the May, 2010 issue - but as of now - that’s the end of the line. Peter [Laird] did keep rights for Mirage to publish 18 ‘TMNT’ comic books per year through the direct market, which would only be based on the current Mirage Universe stuff (eg: a continuation/conclusion to Volume 4).”

Jones also stated that under the terms of last week's $60 million deal with Nickelodeon, Laird can still publish “Turtles” comics “between 32 and 48 pages.” However, Mirage can no longer publish any trade paperbacks.

“What could possibly happen is that say Nickelodeon/Viacom/Paramount/whoever decided to pick up the ball and run in a completely new direction with the Turtles,” Jones elaborated. “They’d be able to license that out to another company, and that company could potentially do anything they like, except publish anything that continues the currently established Mirage Universe, so any comics that would come from another company would be something completely new (what IDW is doing with ‘Transformers’ and ‘GI Joe’ is a pretty good example of the sort of thing that could be done).”

“Peter still owns Mirage,” Jones continued. “So there’s a chance that Mirage could continue publishing but there aren’t any solid plans for anything Turtle related yet (outside of what I just mentioned) or any new IP’s that I’m aware of.”

We've got 6 secrets from the set of V for you

We spent the day on the set of ABC's upcoming alien-invasion series V and learned a few spoilers for the show's debut next week. We also spoke with the show's stars and will be posting what they had to say later this week, but first a few surprises.

♦Alan Tudyk (Firefly's Wash and Dollhouse's Alpha) guest-stars in the pilot as the partner of FBI counter-terrorist agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell); we were told he will now be a recurring character.

♦ The final fight scene in the pilot was reshot and re-edited and now features a sci-fi element: A floating alien device called a "seeker." There is also a machine gun wielded by a major character.

♦ Anyone who has seen the original miniseries on which the new show is based knows that the "Visitors" are actually reptilian creatures disguised as humans. Will we see a full reveal of the aliens in the first four episodes? Producers won't say, but they told us that there will be an off-screen "skinning" of an alien at some point in the initial episodes.

♦ The mothership over New York will feature a mysterious room called a "bliss chamber" designed for the alien Visitors. Its function is unclear.

♦ The Visitors in the new show makes use of an alien alphabet that is identical to the one used in Kenneth Johnson's original miniseries as an homage to that show.

♦ The first four episodes of the show, which will air in November and December before the show takes a hiatus until spring, will end with a series of cliffhangers.

Executive producer Steve Pearlman, meanwhile, explained why ABC will air only four episodes before taking a long break and return to air the balance of the first season's 13 episodes in March.

"From the very beginning, there was going to be a break," Pearlman said on the show's set in Vancouver, Canada. "We were planned originally to be on starting in November, and then we were going to be off the air for about six or seven weeks and then come back on the air in January. And I think ... everybody kind of realized that that would put us up against American Idol ... plus the Olympics."

To avoid competition from those two shows, ABC opted instead to keep the show off the air until March. The show will play out in four-episode chapters, Pearlman added. "These [first] four episodes now have been designed very carefully [that this is] basically the first three weeks of the Visitors being here. ... Episodes one, two and three following the pilot, the story ... becomes much more about: There is no normal anymore, which is the title of the [second] episode."

The fourth episode is slated to air on Nov. 24, Pearlman said. "There are quite a few cliffhanger moments for many of our characters in that episode, and things that hopefully will be big enough events and the viewers will be hooked into these characters enough that the viewers will want to come back and see what happens to them in March." V kicks off on Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Frank Miller's HARD BOILED Waits For SIN CITY

Comics2Film at spoke exclusively to producer Stephen L'Heureux of Solipsist Film who gave us the scoop on his slate of many comic-based films. Among them are two projects in orbit around comics creator and filmmaker Frank Miller: the 'Sin City' franchise and an adaptation of Miller's 'Hard Boiled'.

L'Heureux confirmed for us that the long-awaited sequel 'Sin City 2' will go into production in the second half of 2010. Unlike the first movie, which used the graphic novels as both screenplay and story boards, the sequel will be based on an original script by Miller. As with the original, Miller will co-direct with Robert Rodriguez.

The producer also told us that Miller is hard at work on the screenplay for 'Hard Boiled', based on his comic series from Dark Horse from the early 1990s. Miller is attached to direct that feature.

The ultra-violent comic featured a troubled tax collector named Nixon who slowly begins to realize that his life is nothing like what it seems and he is some kind of robot doing the bidding of a shadowy organization. The book was printed in an oversize format to accommodate the intricately detailed artwork of co-creator Geoff Darrow.

However, L'Heureux told us 'Hard Boiled' is still in the early stages.

"We're still developing it. We got the project in turnaround from Warner Bros and Frank. It's such a pleasure to work with someone like Frank Miller. He's so smart and passionate about story at all levels from 1940s noir pulp to modern film," L'Heureux said.

So when can fans expect to see the movie? The producer said it all comes down to scheduling Miller's time.

"With 'Sin City' just on the horizon I don't think we'd be able to do it with Frank right away. As simple as 'Sin City' seems, it's a very complex scheduling with all these actors and it's a very demanding shoot to be on a sound stage all day long," L'Heureux told us. "We have to space it for Frank. There's also talk, of course, of 'Sin City 3'."

Someone translated that kooky Klingon propaganda video

Two days ago we reported about a viral Klingon video that was creeping around the Web. Today it appears that the Klingons are on the move again. Though their ultimate objectives are uncertain, this new development makes clear some of their immediate intentions.

A new live-action video, posted by the same YouTube account user, "Tanastvar," shows a little girl watching the aforementioned viral video on TV while happily singing along as if she were watching Elmo on Sesame Street. At the end, the camera spins to reveal only the cameraman's goateed mouth. He growls an ominous, "It's working!"

But what exactly is this viral video trying to tell us?

The crew over at had fan Chris Lipscombe (a member of the Klingon Language Institute) do some translating for those of us who only took Klingon 101 in college and never learned more than "Where is the library?"

Although Chris goes back and forth with some of the grammar, below is what he calls a "liberal translation":

We are members of the Klingon Empire!

We have argued with many dozen planets

and we expand to many more every day

Do you want to influence the planet?

But how?

Let's go, we are coming, join us!

Contribute to the enjoyment of Klingon planets

The Empire is good for everyone

The Civilization brings wealth, competitions and good food.

Our Klingon "yeni cheri" are brave, many and fair.

Take spoils from the invasions, and many solders join the Empire

The Empire powerfully protects the important planet from the influence and possible decaying that the dictator (brings ... does something with ....)

Put down your small weapons

Open your hearts

and join the Klingon Empire.

Get ready but conquer

Get justice now!

But that's not all. TrekMovie community member Artun Özsemerciyan connected the background music in the Klingon video as coming from a Turkish children's choir, specifically a song about birds. See the video below for the damning evidence.

It appears that the Klingons are trying to make human children sympathetic to the their cause. But to what end? Indoctrination? Perhaps to make future generations more easily manipulated?

Stay tuned, as we're positive this is not the last we've heard from them.

J.R.R. Tolkien earns $50 million a year while still dead

J.R.R. Tolkien showed up at No. 5 on the annual Forbes list of top-earning dead celebrities this year after raking in $50 million between October 2008-2009. A lot of that money apparently came from a settlement between the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema over the Lord of the Rings movies.

Forbes said Tolkien's earnings potential looks pretty good in the future too since a movie version of The Hobbit is due out in the next few years. Pretty good for a guy who died of a bleeding ulcer back in 1973.

V now has a music video. Does ABC understand this show?

Just after we found out ABC wasn't going to paint big scary red letters in the sky over major cities to promote V, they released a somewhat bizarre music video over on EW to help push the series.

This seems to be par for the course with ABC and V: They're still planning to air it (sort of), but they can't seem to make up their minds about what the show is. It's already been moved around on their schedule a few times, and recently we found out only four episodes will air in November before the series takes an indefinite break.

The concept of a music-video-style promo is a great one, but the tone of the song -- Muse's "Uprising" -- doesn't feel like it matches the pilot of V we saw a while ago. Or maybe we're overthinking it and this is really a brilliant idea?

Finally, we see the Klingons from J.J. Abrams' Star Trek

The Klingons never made it onto the big screen in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot movie, but they do make an appearance on the DVD extras, and Spike has some footage of them below.

If your first thought is that they seem like well-spoken masked Uruk-hai from Lord of the Rings, that's kind of what we thought too. Love the ridged helmets though.

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