Thursday, November 26, 2009

News - 11/26/09...

Happy Thanksgiving!

More good words for Princess

As reviews start to pour in, The Hollywood Reporter describes The Princess And The Frog as “Disney brilliantly rediscovering hand-drawn animation and the value of story. The best Disney animated film in years, it dates back to the days when Walt Disney was a person, not a brand”.

Brutal Legend Jams With Dethklok at Titmouse

Titmouse Inc’s Edward Artinian directed and animated this spot below, which promotes the new Brutal Legend video game from Electronic Arts. The heavy-metal game features the voice and likeness of Jack Black, who plays a roadie charged with saving the world, and here he joins the cast of Metalocalypse. The spot was created to play during the Dethklok Tour 2009, which wound down last week. Most of the scenes in the spot were animated in Flash, while lighting was handled in After Effects.

Fortune on Albie Hecht's "Worldwide Biggies" iPhone Animation Initiative

Fortune magazine has taken a look at Albie Hecht's new Worldwide Biggies studio, which will debut a new animated character Bigby in an iPhone app rather than as the lead of his own animated television show. Hecht is a former president of Nickelodeon Entertainment, overseeing the production and development of SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and Blue's Clues, and sees the move as a step towards a new business model for developing animated properties.

Screen International Talks to Directors of Three "Best Animated Feature" Contenders

Screen International has spoken with three of the contenders for this year's Best Animated Feature Academy Award: Pete Docter (Up), Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox), and Henry Selick (Coraline). Each discusses the origins of their respective films and digs into some of the difficulties they encountered in making their movies.

ASIFA-East’s Evening of Calendars and Films

What do PBS, NPR, The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and ASIFA-East all have in common? They all survive on donations in order to survive. Last week ASIFA-East held the first ever calendar fundraiser event featuring art from a number of NYC animation superstars.

On hand to sign the calendars and share their films were nine out of the twelve artists who contributed artwork. The audience was treated to a sneak peek of Bill Plimpton’s newest feature Cheatin. Michael Sporn showed a couple of his favorite shorts while Debra Solomon shared a few songs from her newest film for HBO, Getting Over Him in Eight Songs or Less. Candy Kugel brought her award winning piece Command Z and George Griffin shared a film he made 30 years ago as a younger man. Jen Oxley screened a couple of her latest shorts made for Sesame Street and Xeth Feinberg showed a few of his latest Xethtoons. Emily Hubley played one of her classic films Octave and Signe Baumane showed a few of her lesser known Teat Beat of Sex shorts which are always uplifting. Mo Willems, who was not in attendance, sent along a sneak preview of his newest short Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.

In addition to the featured artists, Dick Rauh (President of ASIFA-East from the late 1960s through 1989) was there to lend his support and didn’t know why we hadn’t thought to do a calendar before.

Having all that talent in one place at the same time made for a fantastic event. The animation veterans were able to catch up with each other while those newer to the field were able to meet and get advice from artists whose work they have admired for years.

If you missed the event, don’t worry, there is still time to pick up one of our ASIFA-East full-color calendars (SRP $10) and have Mr. October (John Dilworth) autograph it for you by attending our December 9th event. So come out and show your support for ASIFA-East by buying a calendar or two for everyone on your holiday list. All proceeds go to ASIFA-East and count as a charitable donation on your taxes.

(Thanks asifa east)

Turkey Links

With Thanksgiving upon us, time for an early Holiday linkfest, starting with Samurai Jack traveling to the Big Screen:

STAR TREK director J.J. Abrams will be joining former Hanna-Barbera president Fred Seibert to produce a feature film version of the hit Cartoon Network animated series SAMURAI JACK. The $20 million film will use a combination of traditional cell animation and stereoscopic 3-D ...

Creative Talent Network's Animation Expo, held this past weekend at the Marriot across from the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, was a well-attended success. Tina Price put in a lot of hard work to make the expo happen, and the event, based on eye-witness reports, came off wonderfully well:

The first Creative Talent Network Animation Expo kicked off Friday at the Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Burbank, drawing hundreds of students and professionals for an exhibition in a region that is widely acknowledged as the animation capital of the world.

The event featured seminars from innovators like
“Hellboy” comic book creator Mike Mignola and entrepreneurial animator Don Bluth, who split off from major studios to create “The Secret of NIMH.”

The event was an opportunity for animators to learn from industry pioneers, while also promoting their own work, said Tina Price, who founded the Creative Talent Network.

TIME Magazine thinks highly of The Princess and The Frog.

Big Fun on the Bayou -- ...Musker and Clements, the New Old Men, have bucked the odds and made a cartoon feature that is true to vintage Disney traditions (like wishing upon a star) yet moves with a contemporary verve and bounce. In an amazing year for animation, The Princess and the Frog is up at the top. Go on, give it a big kiss.

Jeffrey K. explains his studio and ambitions:

"I say our movies always have to have five Wow Wees, " says Katzenberg, in something of a Botticelli moment. "What's a Wow Wee? You see it and you go, Wow. Wee." He explains how Chris Sanders, director of the upcoming How to Train Your Dragon, wanted a beast that could breathe fire under water. "I mean, what kind of particle physics would it require for that to happen? Fire in water?" asks Katzenberg. "Our tech team goes, 'Okay, we'll figure it out.' " He grins. "Did anyone here tell you Jeffrey's Law? More is never enough." ...

"I saw Rupert Murdoch the other day and said, Would you like to be Rupert Murdoch? And I went, No, I don't think so. Would I like to be Steve Jobs? No. I admire him like crazy, but I don't envy him. I don't want Mark Hurd's job at HP. I couldn't do Mark Hurd's job -- I don't have the talent or ability. ... Do I want to be Bob Iger? Bob is doing an outstanding job running Disney. I'm happy for him. ... But actually, I wouldn't want that job. No. I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing." ...

You think that hand-drawn animation has been neglected? What about the Ray Harryhausen school of movement?

From Prince Achmed to The Fantastic Mr. Fox: Great moments in stop motion animation: ... Stop motion was the domain of European animators in the 30s and 40s, and it wasn't until Hansel and Gretel: An Opera Fantasy (see above), released in 1954 by RKO, that American animators gave a go at a stop motion feature. However, the characters in the film, called "kineman", were very advanced, containing realistic attributes and magnetic feet - and they took fifteen years to develop ...

The powerhouse Disney Channel, which was born back when Rom Miller was Chairman of Diz Co. in the early eighties, names a new President.

Walt Disney Co. named Carolina Lightcap as the new president of Disney Channel Worldwide.

The new post puts Ms. Lightcap, 42 years old, in charge of a unit that has become increasingly essential to Disney's broader business. The Disney Channel has generated some of the company's most successful recent properties, including the
"High School Musical" series and its offshoots, and has served as the launching pad for pop-music stars Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato.

Artist Todd McFarlane discusses an animated Spawn:

What's the status on the Spawn animation?

The animation, we've put about a year and a half of work into it; ...then we got into a bit of a legal tussle. So it got boxed up and put into a corner. But at the end of this year, all that work and all those rights come back to me. So I'll have them in my hand on December 31st, and I'll walk into Hollywood probably the next month and start going, "Hey! Here's what we got!" And if anyone wants to bring the animation back, we're a year and a half into it. So we could literally hit the ground running. We don't have to develop it; it's done. We've got 90 minutes of it scripted, voiced, backgrounds, characters -- everything is done other than finding the studio to actually do the frame-by-frame ...

Enjoy your Fri ... oops ... Wednesday.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Death Star Attacked For Star Wars Uncut

More great Star Wars reinterpretations are emerging from the Star Wars Uncut project. Here’s Kiwi Chris Stapp’s take on scene 450:

Muppets’ Mission To Mercury: Bohemian Rhapsody

Of all the amazing musical guests who appeared on The Muppet Show during its 5-season run, somehow Freddie Mercury and Queen never appeared. This week, however, Mercury’s talent and memory live on in this new video from The Muppets. Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang tackle Bohemian Rhapsody. I suspect this was directed by longtime Muppet-man Kirk Thatcher, and Artie Esposito likely performed Kermit.

In related news, did you know you can design your own Muppet at the Muppet Whatnot Workshop at FAO Schwarz?

EXCLUSIVE: Ryan Reynolds On Green Lantern's Costume And Deadpool's Debut

All week long, we've brought you exclusive interviews with the actors and filmmakers we're most thankful for in 2009 — including "Star Trek" duo J.J. Abrams and Chris Pine, Quentin Tarantino (who told us about his comic book inspiration for "Inglourious Basterds"), and "Iron Man 2" actor Sam Rockwell. Heck, we even heard from Stan Lee about what he's thankful for this year.

Now, we're wrapping things up with an actor poised to have a very big year in the comics scene: "Green Lantern" and "Deadpool" star Ryan Reynolds.

In our extensive interview with Reynolds, he discusses his work on the upcoming comic book movies, his debut as Wade "Deadpool" Wilson in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," and his critically praised performances in the romantic comedy "The Proposal" and indie film "Adventureland." But we all know which films you're here to read about, so here's what Reynolds had to say...

MTV: All these things we're talking about are things you set in motion. You pursued them, you kind of went after them. Does that make it a little bit more gratifying?

It's incredibly validating and gratifying when you can see that you can manifest something that you desperately want or a goal that you have. This is a difficult industry to get anything made, let alone a passion project, so when you see people understand what your vision is and come aligned with that common goal, it's pretty cool. I'm including all the creative types that are actually involved with "Deadpool" and "Green Lantern," because those guys want to make an authentic movie, and that's something a few years ago studios disregarded.

MTV: You have done everything from a publicity tour with Betty White to trying on the Green Lantern costumes. So, in looking back at the year, is there a moment that sums it up, that encapsulates what 2009 was about?

I think, seeing the prototypes for the Green Lantern costumes was a huge moment. It was a moment when I was like, "This is happening, and it's happening in the right way." That's a pretty cool, definitive moment for me.

MTV: Were you happy with the incarnation of Wade Wilson and Deadpool in "Wolverine"? Do you think you captured what you wanted to in the first look at Wade?

Yeah, I think the initial moment of the sequences that involve Wade, I think it did. It's always difficult to fully embrace something that isn't perfect, in terms of staying true to the source material. So it was a little bit frustrating. I really wanted to play Wade, and I really wanted to play Deadpool, and it would kill me to see someone else play them. I had a kind of ham-fisted attitude that it had to be perfect, but it doesn't. The movie's called "Wolverine," it's not called "Deadpool" or "Wade." I thought it was a nice little wink and tip of the hat to things to come. Finding the tone of that character alone is such a difficult prospect. I've been in so many meetings lately about "Deadpool" and meeting all these writers. Everyone is always looking for that one line, "What is that character?" and for me it's kind of like, "There's a guy, and he's in a highly militarized comedic fame spiral." That's not an easy thing to write -- an entire screenplay, let alone a franchise. I had a blast playing Wade. Every line I had in that was stuff I thought he would say. It wasn't something that a writer said to me. It was fun to really create that character, including everything he spits out of his awful mouth.

MTV: Does your love of "Green Lantern" and Hal Jordan go back far?

I've known about "Green Lantern" my whole life, but I've never really followed it before. I fell in love with the character when I met with [director] Martin Campbell. When I sat down with him, I really got what it is that this guy is all about. When you have a guy like Martin Campbell, part of his charm is that he has ba--s of titanium, and the other part is that he's slightly crazy, and you have to be to take on something with the scope of "Green Lantern." He's less of the director and more of a general. He just really knows strategies, he knows the intricacies, and his attention to detail! It's infectious. I sat down with him, and I could not even believe what he was saying. When I went to the meeting, I was entirely cynical. I thought, "What the hell, I'll see what they have to say," and I left the room with a completely different perspective.

To read our full interview with "Deadpool" and "Green Lantern" star Ryan Reynolds, head over to

King Kong's tiny metal skeleton sells for $218K

A 22-inch skeleton used in the climactic scene of the 1933 movie King Kong in which the giant ape climbs the Empire State Building has sold for about $218,000 at a London auction, Reuters reported. The figurine was sold as part of the Christie's popular culture sale Tuesday.

The armature, complete with aluminium skull molded from a wooden carving, was once covered with cotton, rubber, liquid latex and rabbit fur, but that has since rotted away. It is believed to be the only model of its kind.

The model survived thanks to film fan Eugene Hilchey, who set out to gather as many King Kong artifacts as he could from 1949 onward. He got hold of the auctioned model in 1967 when the miniature department where it was being kept was closed for demolition.

All of your questions about V's frustrating cliffhanger

Questions, questions, questions. You'd think we'd just finished watching the season finale of Lost or FlashForward instead of the fourth episode of ABC's V, but Tuesday night's "It's Only the Beginning" gave us plenty to contemplate after one mother of a cliffhanger.

While it's hard even to call it a midseason finale after a scant four episodes, we're guessing that's probably the best way to describe it, since you'll have to wait more than three months for the final nine episodes to appear in March 2010.

(Huge, mega, alien spoilers ahead!)

At the end of "It's Only the Beginning," we were left feeling that it might just be the end, judging by the size of the alien armada waiting to pounce on Earth. Our four freedom-fighting heroes don't seem to have a chance against the Vs, even with the Fifth Column in their corner. But it's fun to watch Anna (Morena Baccarin) squirm when things don't go her way.

Here's some of our thoughts—and yours, from's V forum—about the questions that popped up after the cliffhanger.

Will Father Jack survive?

Kingtycho thinks he knows better. "Will he make it? How did the one visitor survive the explosion, and how did he find Father Jack?? (he better survive, he's too much an asset to the show right now)"

Well, kingtycho, our best guess is that he'll make it somehow, since he's a star. But why the Visitor would escape the explosion and follow Father Jack (Joel Gretsch), and NOT CALL ANNA before he tries to kill him ... we're at a loss. What purpose does killing him serve when Jack could be used to find the other resistance fighters? We're thinking Anna is not going to be happy with that V, and she can be scary.

What's all this skinning business about?

And when are we going to get to see a what's underneath the Vs' human suits?

Ryan (Morris Chestnut) mentioned skinning in a negative way, like it was the worse thing ever for a V. And then one of the Fifth Column gets skinned by one of his own to protect another Fifth Column V named Joshua. It has to do with sharp blades, it seems to hurt a lot, and the Vs are very scared of it. But why it's a bad thing we don't know yet. It implies the human suit is not just a suit to the Vs.

Lost_Behrings wrote, "If we see Anna tap-dancing down the halls of the V ship with a brand new pair of alligator-type shoes, I think I know where they came from."

You are so right, Lost-Behrings. She is such a bitch.

Is Chad Decker (Scott Wolf) actually going to die?

Will the Vs help his brain problem, or are they just messing with him?

Apparently no one really cares if Chad's brain is about to explode. But did the Vs put something into his brain, OR was something there all along, OR is there NOTHING in Chad's brain at all? We think it's the last one, and they're just messing with him to get him to do their bidding.

What does Anna have planned for Tyler (Logan Huffman)?

Oh, this was a popular one. There's just so many possibilities from sfmacy's "Boy Toy!!!" to nagsmth's belief that "she wants grandkids."


bopper7373 added, "who cares, if we have to wait 'til March to find out..."

Bugaboojda wrote, "I think that Tyler is going to become the leader of the human Peace Ambassadors who will rally all of the youth to defend and protect the Vs."

And here's our favorite from Will_Casity, "Exploit for aggression testing to identify if humans can be controlled through their aggression, since bliss will not work on them. And if that doesn't work, then they will use him to make babies."

What's up with putting SOMETHING in our flu shots?

Ginmartini70 has issues with the plot that has the Vs tainting our flu-shot supply with something called R6. "Americans sure love there conspiracy theories. Look for the anti-vaccine crowd to start quoting V, and for millions to start the theory that vaccines are being developed by extraterrestrials."

Lostwarrior25 so does not agree. "Seriously? It's a show about aliens... SCIENCE FICTION. Nobody's gonna freak out about flu shots. They are not needed anyway, just eat healthy."

(We don't agree with this, BTW. We followed our doctor's advice and got the flu vaccines.)

Who is John May?

He's maybe a legend or the leader of the Fifth Column rebels, and the Web is abuzz with the possibilities as to who he is. Could he be Marcus, Anna's right-hand man? Or perhaps Ryan? Or maybe someone we don't know yet?

According to VickyVicious, she thinks it just might be Marcus (Christopher Shyer). "For some reason I have a feeling that he's a good guy. And maybe happens to be John May. There is just something about him that is off. And I feel like if he isn't a good guy after all then he is a bad guy, like really bad. Beyond bad. Evil."

As for 2Tizacuv, he wrote, "I am hoping that John May will be a cameo surprise, like Marc Singer, Michael Ironside or [Robert] Englund to play that part." For those of you too young to remember, they were stars of the original V miniseries.

Do we puny Earthlings have a chance?

Especially with a gazillion V ships waiting to pounce on us?

Well, Gitchee thinks, "The armada we saw at the end of the show was mentioned in other discussions, and some were wondering if it could be the Fifth Column. So, I went and re-watched the ending. Anna's last words were 'What you've seen today Tyler, is only the beginning.' Then she looked upward into the distance and the scene rapidly zoomed through the galaxy to the armada. That leads me to believe it is not the Fifth Column, but instead is the Visitor's invasion fleet."

We're going with an invasion fleet, otherwise they'd just pop by and blow up Anna. After all, there were way more than 29 ships in that fleet.

Will there be that half-alien baby after all?

Looks like we're in for a V/human child now that Valerie (Lourdes Benedicto) is preggers with Ryan's child. Think he's going to tell her he's an traitorous alien reptile bastard BEFORE she gives birth?

Aerosimms had a realization. "You know, I was thinking of this and then realized - it's Morris Chestnut! As long as he doesn't have to take off his human suit - she can hang out in denial. I definitely would. Because she's a psychologist, she can rationalize it by saying she's studying V psychology."

"Do we really know who Valerie's baby daddy is?" Tandona wrote. "What if she got pregnant while visiting the health center? Her boyfriend is a V and he is probably not going to be so irresponsible to get her pregnant without a plan."

Irresponsible baby daddy or not, we also think Morris should keep on his human suit and just take off his shirt more often.

When is someone going to eat a guinea pig?

"So much for another show with 5 years of interlocking mysteries with a 100 loose ends. If you want aliens here they are. Infiltrators and traitors don't blink. Even though 5th Column is the wrong term here, we have Ryan (not Gunn from Angel) taking on his own people, while Tyler is all set to kiss off human-kind for a cute blond. As the show was barreling fast down the road I was sure there was going to be a guinea pig sighting," wrote Lost_Behrings.

We can only hope.

Why is ABC making us wait until March to see more?

Wcman17 ranted, "What a crock of doo-doo that this won't be back until March of 2010...That's 4 months away....what gives? I'm sorry, I won't be watching in the 4 months I will have found something else to watch....ABC, you already do this with LOST.....why do you subject the public to this kind of game?"

"It's a little sad, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the government that was getting this show cancelled," added conspiracy theorist seb_V.

Conspiracy theorist GGordonGoodgame commented, "Did I miss something? V was pulled off the air at the insistence of the White House. Look for next season to have a whole different feeling to it. The show was a great start...The head writer was fired for his parallel references to the current government attempt at a Marxist takeover...Look for next season to have a much more 'predictable' bad guy...A Sarah Palin look alike with a Wasilla accent...Wouldn't surprise me a bit."

wipurfield3 also ranted, "I hate you people! 4 episodes! Seriously! It's no wonder that network tele is losing to cable."

Well, we don't have a lot to add to those comments. Enough said.

And how did you feel about the "midseason" finale and the long, long wait for more V? Or have you lost interest completely?

V lives: Ratings halt their decline for midseason finale

Like an alien spaceship slowing for a landing, the ratings for ABC's V slowed their weeks-long decline last night for the show's fall finale, leaving a bit of hope for the show's fans that the alien-invasion saga would continue.

According to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog, the audience for the fourth and final installment of the year drew 9.2 million viewers and a 3.1 rating, matching last week.

This signal of potential stability—and the fact "V" is halting above the 3.0 watermark—makes it very likely that ABC will bring back the alien invasion drama in the spring. In fact, the network ran a promo at the end of the episode saying "V" will return in March, even as ABC's publicity department continues to say that no decision has been made.

Last week, we speculated that the show would not be back if the ratings continued to plunge. We're going to go out on a limb again and suggest that ABC will take a look at DVR viewing, which tends to bump up the numbers of sci-fi shows, and decide then whether it's worth bringing the show back.

V helped ABC edge out CBS for the win among the adult demographic, with CBS topping the night among total viewers.

Fox's 24, sci-fi series, get debut dates in January

Human Target

There's a raft of new and returning sci-fi/fantasy series coming to Fox in January, including Human Target and Past Life, and the network has finally set dates for their premieres.

On Sunday, Jan. 17, 24 returns at 9 p.m. ET/PT, with the first half of its two-night, four-hour season premiere, Variety reported. 24, which adds new cast members Freddie Prinze Jr. and Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff, will also air for two hours on Monday, Jan. 18, before settling into its normal 9 p.m. slot the following week, on Jan. 25.

The new series Human Target, which stars former Fringe cast member Mark Valley and features a guest role by Battlestar's Tricia Helfer, will then take over the Wednesday 9 p.m. slot starting Jan. 20.

In February, Fringe will take a hiatus after its Feb. 4 episode, leaving room for Past Life, a supernatural-tinged series, which will debut with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m., before settling into its 9 p.m. slot on Feb. 18, the trade paper reported. (As announced last May, Past Life was originally slated for Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)

Fringe will return on Thursday, April 1, after Past Life completes its run.

Dollhouse airs its series finale at 9 on Jan. 22.

Van Damme, Lundgren back in new Universal Soldier! (video)

We know this trailer's been out there for a couple of days, but I mean, seriously, how can we not watch it over and over and over?

It's the new trailer for Universal Soldier: Regeneration, a straight-to-DVD sequel to 1992's Universal Soldier and its follow-up, 1999's Universal Soldier: The Return, and it brings back not just the Muscles From Brussels himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme, but also his nemesis from the first movie, Dolph Lundgren.

Dolph Lundgren!

We have a special place in our tiny hearts for these cheeseball, sci-fi kick-ass action movies, and we're beside ourselves with joy about the reunion movie.

(And who remembers that 2012 director Roland Emmerich was behind the first one? Us neither.)

In this new sequel, some military group has to reactivate Van Damme's undead UniSol Luc Deveraux in order to stop a new Universal Soldier played by mixed martial artist Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski. The surprise is that Luc also has to deal with a resurrected Scott (Dolph).

Regeneration, which was originally subtitled A New Beginning (a la Friday the 13th?), is coming to DVD and Blu-ray in February.

Our favorite lines from the first one:

Veronica: I figured you had to be French or something because of your accent.

Luc: What accent?

Are you psyched??

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