Wednesday, January 6, 2010

News - 01/06/10...

Avatar, Up among PGA nominations

The Producers Guild of America have announced their nominations for their Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Avatar alphabetically fronts the list, which also names District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Bastards, Invictus, Precious, Star Trek, Up and Up In The Air. Up is unsurprisingly also a contender for the PGA’s animated film award, alongside 9, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Princess And The Frog.

Video Forecast: Cloudy, Mighty Mouse, Super Friends

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Sony, $28.96 DVD, $34.95 special edition two-disc DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray and DVD) arrives as the week’s major release. The movie, whose success at the box office and with critics exceeded expectations, includes a plethora of special features including a director’s commentary, behind the scenes features, game titled Flint’s Food Fight, a music video and more.

Perhaps even more anticipated by animation fans is Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures — The Complete Series (Paramount, $42.99), bringing the classic late 1980s series home at last. The hilarious series, which had its share of controversy, was a seminal one for its time and featured work by Ralph Bakshi, John Kricfalusi, Bruce Timm and Andrew Stanton.

More classic superhero fare can be found in Super Friends!: Season 1, Vol. 1 (Warner Bros., $26.99), which brings at long last the original run of the classic superhero series home. The two-disc set features eight episodes, 20 minutes of bonus content and an interactive trivia game. Also out this week is Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Vol. 2 (Vivendi, $16.99), collecting episodes of the Marvel-Nicktoons series.

For the kids, a classic returns with a new two-disc edition of Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You — Special Edition (Disney, $29.99). Also out for kids this week are Backyardigans: Join The Adventurer's Club (Paramount, $16.99), Nickelodeon: We Love Our Friends (Paramount, $16.99), Sing Along with Barbie (Universal, $14.98) and Thomas & Friends: Splish, Splash, Splosh (HIT, $14.98).

Lastly, new to HD this week is Battlestar Galactica: Season One (Universal, $89.98 Blu-ray), out on Blu-ray for the first time.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Ozone Releases 3rd Planet Game for iPhone

Ozone Inc. is stepping into the iPhone game.

The Boston-based animation studio, best known for its Emmy-winning animated web series It’s Jerrytime!, has released the arcade shooter 3rd Planet for the iPhone.

The game is a 2D/3D side-scrolling game in which the player is an alien pilot scooping up humans. The game offers six levels of increasingly difficult play, and uses multi-touch features, high-end graphics and immersive sound.

The game, the company’s first iPhone app, is available now through iTunes in two versions: a free “lite” version and the 99 cent full version.

Here’s a look at the trailer:

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

National Critics Honor Mr. Fox Production Design

The Hurt Locker dominated the year-end honors from the National Society of Film Critics, but the group still gave a nod to animation with an unusual nomination for Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The group honored Nelson Lowry for his production design on the Wes Anderson film.

Considered one of the more high brow awards of the season, the group last year went all out for animation and gave its top honor to Waltz with Bashir.

Historically, the group’s choices have rarely matched up with the eventual Oscar winners — which could be good news for James Cameron as the momentum and support grows for Avatar.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)


Apparently, they’re kinda similar.

(Thanks, Dave O.)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Emmy-winning executive producer David Gerber dies

Emmy and Peabody Award-winning TV industry veteran David Gerber, executive producer of the 1970 Christmas special The Night The Animals Talked, died Saturday in the Los Angeles area.

His age was a secret "he kept closely guarded," the Stockton Record reported in its Tuesday edition.

His David Gerber Productions co-produced The Night The Animals Talked, which aired on ABC. Directed by veteran Shamus Culhane, the half-hour program showed the story of the Nativity as seen through the eyes of the animals in the stable.

In 1976, the Brooklyn-born Gerber shared an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series as an executive producer of Police Story. He was also nominated in the category for Police Story in 1974, 1975 and 1977.

Gerber received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special - Drama or Comedy for the 1976 TV-movie The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case. He was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Made for Television Movie in 2006 for Flight 93, and for Outstanding Limited Series in 1984 for George Washington (which also won a Peabody Award).

As an executive producer, studio chief and mentor over three decades, he was also involved in Batman, Room 222, thirtysomething and Police Story, as well as the seven-year-running In The Heat Of The Night and the critically acclaimed First World War story The Lost Battalion, starring Rick Schroeder.

Gerber was the executive producer of Flight 93, based on the real-life story of the United Airlines Flight which crashed into a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. This story told of the heroic efforts of the passengers who prevented the airplane from crashing into the terrorists' assumed target of Washington, D.C. Flight 93 gave A&E its highest-rated viewer audience within its network history.

He was in a small, elite group of producers who were for Emmys in both areas in the same awards year (Police Story and The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case).

As an executive, he revitalized two major TV companies: Columbia Pictures Television in the late 1970s and, from 1986 to 1992, MGM Television.

The late John H. Mitchell, former president of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the president of Columbia Pictures Television, described Gerber as a "producer's producer."

Gerber liked to go against the grain, as he did with Police Woman, the first successful police series starring a female lead; That's My Mama, among the first all-black cast comedies; a pilot entitled To Sir With Love (for the first time featuring a black leading man); Viva Valdez (the first all-Latino comedy); Quark (an offbeat science fiction comedy, created by Buck Henry, that was regarded by critics to be way ahead of its time); the Beulah Land miniseries (a controversial Civil War program that became the 12th highest-rated miniseries of all time); and Needles and Pins (one of TV's first ethnic comedies, located in the garment district). Police Story was the first successful film anthology in primetime.

He was recognized by such groups as the NAACP and Nosotros for his outstanding dramas. Gerber received such important industry awards as the Christopher Awards and the Golden Globe. He also received the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers and Directors, as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Casting Society and the Publishers Guild.

Gerber followed up Police Story with such other realistic dramas as Medical Story, another anthology, and The Quest, a Western series starring Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson, which continues to have a loyal cult following. TV Guide labeled the show the "Mean Streets of the West." Added to the list is Robert Daley's To Kill A Cop (a four-hour miniseries about terrorists in New York) and the four-hour Power, starring Joe Don Baker. based on James Hoffa's life.

Gerber was educated in Brooklyn. After high school, he entered the Air Corps during the Second World War, serving as a radio gunner tech sergeant. His B-17 airplane was shot down over Germany, resulting in Gerber becoming a prisoner of war in Stalag 17B. After the war ended, he returned home to a civilian life and traveled to Northern California, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of the Pacific.

Following his graduation, Gerber joined the ad agency BBD&O as a TV supervisor. The Famous Artists Agency heard about his ability and hired him as a TV packager. From there he became senior vice-president of television at General Artists Corporation. While at GAC, Gerber came to the attention of Twentieth Century Fox Television, eventually moving there to become a vice-president responsible for packaging TV shows. His first successful effort was the long-running Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and the critically acclaimed Room 222, a breakthrough in ethnic comedy.

After having been involved with the sales of more than 50 primetime TV series, as well as selling animated programs television specials and daytime series, Gerber started to produce his own productions, beginning with comedies Nanny and the Professor and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (in which Hope Lange won two Emmys).

His Follow the North Star ABC After School Special won him the first of his two Christopher Awards.

In 1972, Gerber formed his own independent TV production company, and became affiliated with Columbia Pictures Television (formerly Screen Gems). Through this association, Gerber was, in addition to Police Story, executive producer of several other series, including Needles and Pins, Police Woman, The Quest, John O'Hara's Gibbsville, Eischied, Born Free, Medical Story and Lloyd Bridges' Joe Forrester. He also produced the three-hour Lindbergh Kidnapping Case.

During his tenure at CPT, he was named executive vice-president in charge of television production, a post in which he helped to restructure the company's programming from a comedy house to one of dramatic TV. At the end of his own prescribed two-year tenure, Columbia Pictures went from one hour on prime time to five hours.

In 1981, Gerber was called to take over MGM Television, where he was responsible for such series as Today's FBI, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, For Love and Honor, Lady Blue, and the miniseries The Last Days of Pompeii and George Washington.

In July 1986, the newly reorganized MGM/UA corporation appointed as Gerber president of its TV division. In September 1991, he assumed expanded distribution responsibilities as chairman and CEO of MGM Worldwide Television Group. Under Gerber's tenure, 25 movies of the week were produced.

In 1992, due to MGM's organizational crises, Gerber took over all MGM development and started his own company, entering into an exclusive joint production venture with ITC Entertainment. In the spring of 1995, he took over as president of All American Television Production, best known for the syndicated series Baywatch and its spin-off, Baywatch Nights.

In the midst of his two-year contract, All-American was sold to the English media conglomerate Pearson. Gerber then rejoined his former studio, FOX Television Studios, to produce his own films, including Flight 93, which received six Emmy nominations.

Gerber was a member of the University of the Pacific Board of Regents, and was a recipient of a 1988 Career Achievement Award presented by the Stockton Arts Commission. In 1989, he was the University of the Pacific's Alumnus of the Year.

He served three terms as a member of the Executive Board of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, as well as serving three years as a member of its selection committee for the Hall of Fame.

During the early development of the Producers Guild Association, Gerber served many years on its board of directors, where he continues to serve as a member. At the time of his death, he was an active member of the Caucus Steering Committee for producers, writers and directors.

One of David Gerber's hobbies was his 100-acre vineyard in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California, which, he said, "grew from a hobby into a business." The vineyard is supervised by his wife, the former Laraine Stephens. He purchased a historic estate that first became Gerber Vineyards and later was renamed Laraine Winery.

Rhino Freestyles Animation For Beeline

The Tel-Aviv-based animation studio Rhino recently produced this CG spot for the Russian telecommunications company Beeline. It was directed by Natasha Saenko and animated by Jaime A. CastaƱeda and Sean Curran. The agency on the job was Lowe Adventa.

The Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures DVD

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures – The Complete Series is available on DVD today. We don’t highlight much animation aimed at kids on this site, but it’s a safe argument that Mighty Mouse wasn’t. While Mighty Mouse was first introduced in 1942, it was revived several times, and most recently by Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat). Beyond that, the crew Bakshi assembled included some young artists that went on to define the animation industry – like John Kricfalusi (The Ren and Stimpy Show), Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) and Andrew Stanton (Wall-E). Here’s a low-quality version of the title sequence:

Toonbox Begins Shaman’s Quest

Here’s a strong first episode for a new web series, titled Shaman’s Quest. It’s from Russia’s Toonbox Animation Studio.

Birdo Deposits Banco Mercedes-Benz Spot

Here’s a new spot from the Brazilian studio Birdo. It’s for Bank Mercedes-Benz (who knew there was such a thing?), and the agency Salem. It’s simply titled Truck, and it was directed by Luciana Eguti and Paulo Muppet. The two had help on the animation from Rafael Gallardo, Pedro Eboli and William Iamazi Ferro.

New Image, Cast Details For Upcoming "Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths" Feature

The World's Finest has a first look at a new image and respective voice casting news for the upcoming Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated feature from Warner Home Video.

A representative for Warner Home Video has provided The World's Finest with an update concerning the voice cast for the upcoming Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths direct-to-video animated feature. Actors Brian Bloom and James Patrick Stewart are playing two members of the Crime Syndicate for the upcoming DC Universe Animated Original Movie release, with actor Nolan North pulling double-duty.

Nolan North, providing the voice of Green Lantern in the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated feature, will also voice Green Lantern's evil counterpart Power Ring. North is currently known among genre fans for his work as Cyclops in the animated Wolverine and the X-Men, Deadpool in the Hulk Versus feature, Nathan Drake in the Uncharted video game series, among countless other roles.

Continuing the Crime Syndicate roll-call, actor Brian Bloom is providing the voice of Ultraman for the animated feature. Bloom has done extensive voice-work in the video game field, including Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, Halo Wars, Metal Gear Solid 4, among countless others. His resume also includes television and theatrical roles.

Lastly, the evil Johnny Quick is voiced by actor James Patrick Stewart. Well-known for his role as "Keith" in the cult Andy Richter Controls the Universe television series, Stewart has an extensive resume of television and voice-over work, including a stint on CSI, the recent 90210 prime-time revamp, and a recurring role as "Avalanche" on the animated Wolverine and the X-Men series, among other roles. Quick is the Crime Syndicate's villianous take on The Flash.

Click on the thumbnail above for a new image of Power Ring from the upcoming Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated feature. A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the direct-to-video Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated feature debuts February 23rd, 2010 on DVD and Blu-ray disc.

Stay tuned for further Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths updates, including additional exclusive content and more.

DreamWorks Animation LLC

The second half of my day was spent at DWA, where different artists brought up the bomb threat brouhaha from Thursday. Employees were either telling me they spent a long time out on the sidewalk in the rain, or that they had been off on vacation and missed it (and a few sorry that they weren't present for the excitement.) ...

But besides staff standing out on the sidewalk on a drizzly afternoon, there are also a bunch of newer pictures being made.

"We've got the first act of Puss in Boots up on boards. It's got different characters than Shrek, more supporting players and second leads from different fairy tales ..."

And apparently The Croods is coming along smartly.

"The Jeffrey presentation is earlier than it was originally going to be, but we're close to ready. We've got the three acts done, and I have to say this story feels a lot more solid than a lot of pictures I've worked on [around the industry]. Not that there isn't tightening and tweaks tweaks that we need to make, but there's a there there ..."

The quote above is from somebody who I respect a lot and knows good from bad from indifferent. Chris Sanders's other effort at the studio, How to Train Your Dragon, is also getting good internal buzz. Could this be a positive sign? Could this be a portent of top quality animated features to come? We'll know the answer in due course.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Why Winnie?

A question that pops up among people I meet:

"So if Disney wants to resuscitate hand-drawn features, why are they doing another Winnie the Pooh project?..."

That's an easy one.

As I've mentioned before, Disney Merchandising really, really wants a new Pooh feature to goose Winnie merchandise and DVD sales. Diz Co. (according to my corporate spies and stoolies) sells a lot of the old WtP theatrical product but very little of the teevee versions. So the House of Mouse wants a new feature to grease the sales pipeline.

(And Mr. Lasseter, I'm informed, thought new big-screen adventures for the A. A. Milne characters was a good idea.)

But the Wise Old Movie Producer gave me the best explanation of why Disney is making a new epic about the 100-Acre Wood.

"You don't get it, Steve. It's all about selling stuff. People think Cars wasn't so hot? The worst Pixar movie? Well, screw that. It sold jillions of toy cars. The studios want to make money, they don't give a sh*t how they do it.

"So what if Walt Disney Animation Studio is turning into Filmation? The features are there to move merchandise.
The Princess and the Frog is moving lots of Princess dolls. Even if it doesn't sell a lot of movie tickets, there's always the toys.

"Disney Merchandising should pay for the new
Winnie the Pooh feature. They're the ones who'll be making most of the money from this picture ..."

The Wise Old Movie Producer. A classical cynic.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Avatar's Ying and Yang

Even as James Cameron's latest does this ...

By this time next week, James Cameron should have the two highest-grossing films in history.

The amazing feat for Cameron, his Lightstorm Entertainment production shingle and
"Avatar" -- which has topped $1 billion worldwide -- follows the filmmaker's success in 1997-98 with "Titanic," the top-grossing picture ever.

...the world's greatest movie capitalist is ticking off conservatives.

... To say that the film has evoked a storm of ire on the right would be an understatement. ... Big Hollywood's John Nolte, one of my favorite outspoken right-wing film essayists, blasted the film, calling it "a sanctimonious thud of a movie so infested with one-dimensional characters and PC cliches that not a single plot turn, large or small, surprises.... Think of 'Avatar' as 'Death Wish' for leftists, a simplistic, revisionist revenge fantasy where if you freakin' hate the bad guys (America) you're able to forgive the by-the-numbers predictability of it all."

John Podhoretz, the Weekly Standard's film critic, called the film
"blitheringly stupid; indeed, it's among the dumbest movies I've ever seen ...."

I know I'm shirking my national duty, but I haven't seen Cameron's latest. However, the resident teenage film buff around here has viewed it, and his comment reflects what I've heard elsewhere:

"It pretty much has the same plot as Fern Gully ..."

You remember Fern Gully don't you? Bill and Sue Kroyer's 1991 animated feature? It's a picture I do know something about, since TAG represented the writers and artists working on it. Bad guys ravage the rain forest, elves and fairies fight back. Fox released FG, just as it's released this new Gully knock-off. And funny thing. I don't remember, nineteen years back, any collective scream of outrage when that earlier picture came out.

Maybe I was napping.

But I find the anger and disdain about Avatar a trifle silly. It's a sci fi parable set on a far away planet far in the future, for cripe's sake, with the same plot points we've seen in a bunch of Hollywood epics, from Fern Gully to Dances with Wolves to this item:

They Died With Their Boots On, in case you haven't seen it, is a fairy tale history of George Armstrong Custer where the villains are the greedy white entrepreneurs and the Native Americans the good guys, with Custer -- at the climax --the Indians' ally.

Put aside the inconvenient truth that Boots stands history and Custer's actual biography on its head. You can peruse Rotten Tomatoes and find various reviews of this sixty-nine-year-old film without finding one that has a complaint about how Warner Bros. is attacking good old American capitalism.

What I'm saying is, the basic plot of Avatar has been done by Tinsel Town for years without a lot of griping from the Right. And I'm thinking the only reason there are all these complaints now about a derivative science fiction movie is that political discourse in this great land of ours has become even more deranged than usual.

Come on already. Nobody made a peep that Custer sided with the Indians in Boots. So what's the deal with Avatar?

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Via Aint It Cool -

Confirmed: Spider-Man 4 Swings Into A Brick Wall! May 11, 2011 Release Date Currently In Jeopardy!

Beaks here...

Three weeks ago, just before the holiday break, broke the news that Spider-Man 4 was being delayed indefinitely due to a substantial difference of opinion between director Sam Raimi and Sony Pictures on the direction (and the quality) of the screenplay. Sony initially denied this, but, today, the studio is croonin' a different tune: Spider-Man 4 is on hold, and, according to Nikki Finke's source(s), will not be ready to go before cameras this spring. This means you can forget about the film being ready for May 11, 2011.

Though Finke (who is good and sourced up - and, some might argue, sympathetic - with Sony) is leaving open the possibility that an as-yet-undelivered draft from two-time Oscar-winner Alvin Sargent might get the project moving forward again (he received screenwriting credits on the last two Spidey flicks), HitFix's Drew McWeeny sounds a little less optimistic. Sez Drew:

Since that first story ran, I've been hearing some really terrible things about what's going on between Sam Raimi, the studio, and the writers, and I've been starting to wonder if there's any chance they can reach an agreement that will make all involved parties happy.

Sargent is the fourth official writer on Spider-Man 4, following A-listers Jamie Vanderbilt, David Lindsay-Abaire and Gary Ross.

As for the status of John Malkovich and Anne Hathaway being cast as the film's villains, Raimi is reportedly still hot for Malkovich; Hathaway, on the other hand, would cost more than the studio is willing to spend. Seeing as how the series' most effective baddies have been played by respected (and comparably inexpensive) character actors like Alfred Molina and Thomas Haden Church (whose Sandman was easily the best thing about the third film), it's hard to argue with the studio's position on this. When it comes to which villains get worked into the narrative, however, I'll 100% side with Raimi - if only because we've seen what happens when he's forced to deal with a character he flat-out doesn't like (i.e. Venom).

As an unabashed fan of two-thirds of the series, I hope Raimi and the screenwriters and the studio manage to resolve their differences and move forward. That said, if it becomes a question of making a release date rather than a movie, I'd prefer for everyone to part ways and call it a day on this iteration of the web-slinger's big-screen adventures - which, it seems, is a distinct possibility.

There are already rumblings that this delay has much, if not everything, to do with Sony angling for a 3-D Spider-Man 4. Rest assured that the issue right now is the script - but I wouldn't be surprised if, in the interim, the studio makes a rather strident case for 3-D.

Heroes is a hit—as the most pirated TV show, that is

Feel like illegally downloading a Heroes episode? Apparently you (well, we're not accusing you personally, but that guy over there) and 6.58 million other people do on a regular basis, more than actually watch the series live. Yes, shockingly, in 2009 NBC's Heroes and Showtime's serial-killing Dexter actually suffered more pirated downloads than they had actual viewers, according to

While Heroes hovers on the edge of cancellation, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles actually did get canceled last spring. If you do the math, TSCC had 6,340,000 actual viewers + 1,960,000 illegal downloads, which probably would have equaled enough to give it another season. However, it's not that simple.

Most of the downloads come from countries other than the U.S., where they sometimes have to wait weeks or months before the new episodes are available, according to TorrentFreak. Their take ... it's all about availability. "The piracy figures simply show that TV viewing habits are changing."

Our take ... if NBC offered Heroes to everyone outside the U.S. for $1 the day after it aired, they have 6,580,000 extra dollars. Add in some advertising for good measure. We're just saying.

Here is TorrentFreak's list, with actual viewers and then the number of illegal downloads:

1. Heroes—5,900,000 actual viewers vs. 6,580,000 downloads
2. Lost—11,050,000 actual viewers vs. 6,310,000 downloads
3. Prison Break—5,300,00 actual viewers vs. 3,450,000 downloads
4. Dexter—2,300,000 actual viewers vs. 2,780,000 downloads
5. House—15,600,000 actual viewers vs. 2,590,000 downloads
6. 24—12,620,000 actual viewers vs. 2,440,000 downloads
7. Desperate Housewives—15,500,000 actual viewers vs. 2,180,000 downloads
8. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles—6,340,000 actual viewers vs. 1,960,000 downloads
9. Grey's Anatomy—15,640,000 actual viewers vs. 1,740,000 downloads
10. True Blood—12,400,000 actual viewers vs. 1,600,000 downloads

So have you ever pirated anything, matey?

'Iron Man 2' Special: War Machine Creator Addresses 'Iron Man' Casting Change And Jim Rhodes' Debut

EDITOR'S NOTE: With 2009 behind us and "Iron Man 2" just a few months away from hitting theaters, MTV News contacted War Machine co-creator Bob Layton to discuss the character's upcoming debut on the big screen. The conversation covered a wide range of subjects that we're rolling out this week in a four-part series — continuing with today's discussion of Jim Rhodes' debut in the first "Iron Man" and the switch from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle for the sequel.

Over the last 30 years, Bob Layton and David Michelinie have earned a reputation as one of the definitive “Iron Man” creative teams. And according to Layton, his status preceded him when he met Robert Downey Jr. on the set of “Iron Man 2” last summer.

“When I was on the set of ‘Iron Man 2’, Robert Downey Jr. was like 'What did you think? Were you happy?'" Layton told MTV News. “He was so concerned with whether we were pleased with his performance as the character. I told him, ‘Dude, you knocked it out of the park! You were amazing.’"

"I think he was perfectly cast," added Layton. "Everybody there seems to be devoted to the spirit of that character and the series and it really shows in the films. I thought [the first] ‘Iron Man’ was incredibly well done. It was as close to the spirit of what David [Michelinie] and I did as anything could be. [And] I think the second film is going to be amazing.”

The first “Iron Man” movie also introduced a significant change in the relationship between Tony Stark and Jim Rhodes by keeping Rhodes in the military and portraying the characters as equals instead of the classic employer/employee relationship that developed in the comic. As one of Rhodes’ co-creators — along with Michelinie and artist John Byrne — Layton enjoyed the new dynamic onscreen.

“For the most part, I think keeping him in the military was an interesting idea,” said Layton. “The more I thought about it, the fact that he wasn’t an employee of Stark’s actually made their friendship work a little better. Part of the problem with the book is that all of Tony’s friends are his employees."

"It was unfortunate that so much of the characterization between Jim and Tony in the first movie wound up on the cutting room floor," he added. "If you see the DVD and the stuff they cut out. I loved some of the scenes they shot that didn’t make it into the movie because it really solidified their friendship.”

Layton also offered MTV News his opinion on Terrence Howard’s performance as Jim Rhodes in the first film as well as his thoughts on Don Cheadle taking over the role in “Iron Man 2.”

“I thought [Howard] was good,” Layton said. “He looked more of the role than perhaps Don Cheadle does. Because Cheadle is a smaller guy and we always portrayed Jim Rhodes as a bigger guy. And Terrence Howard is obviously a terrific performer. All of the acting was first rate in [‘Iron Man’].”

“I think what they’ve got coming up in ‘Iron Man 2’ is terrific,” continued Layton. “Obviously Don Cheadle is an Academy Award nominee. How could he not bring something to role? I’m really anxious to see how Don Cheadle comes off as Jim Rhodes.”

Why the vampire film Daybreakers is the anti-Twilight

If you've had it up to your eyeteeth with sparkly swoony teen vampires, then you're going to love Daybreakers, Ethan Hawke's upcoming supernatural sci-fi horror movie.

Hawke plays a vampire in the new film, which takes the old-school approach to bloodsuckers. You know, when they actually have pointy teeth and don't talk about their feelings.

"I think what's good about this movie is it's the first post-adolescent vampire movie in a long time," Hawke said in a group interview Monday in Beverly Hills, Calif. "It's an R-rated vampire movie. I remember being a kid and sleeping over at my friend's house and staying up late and watching the Isabelle Adjani Nosferatu. Vampire movies are supposed to be secret and bad. They should be rated R."

In Daybreakers, vampires have so overrun the world that humans are in scarce quantity, and the blood supply is dwindling. Hawke plays Edward Dalton, a vampire scientist working on a synthetic blood substitute. Writer/directors the Spierig brothers satirize human environmental movements from this perspective, but it's still all about the fangs.

"I made a joke that this could be the number-one movie for PETA advocates," Hawke said. "It could be a huge animal-rights champion film, in a certain way of thinking. Maybe in another way, oil is the most obvious [analogy]. Sucking the blood dry. But the movie wouldn't be good at all if that's the only thing that was interesting about it. The movie works as a flat-out genre movie. It just happens to have something else at play. Gattaca was a similar way, too. It works as just a basic sci-fi movie, but there was obviously all these themes at work underneath it."

Dalton winds up fighting off vampire mutants (a nasty side effect of drinking their own blood) and teams up with a group of rebel humans who may have a better alternative to his fake blood. To Hawke, though, what makes all the fun violence work is that you care about the people, alive or undead. Actors like Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill help sell it.

"That's the Spierig brothers," Hawke said. "They wanted us. That's the kind of actor they wanted. I mean, go figure. A lot of these kind of people who make these kind of movies, they don't care about the acting. They're so interested in their shot or their thing, and they just want somebody to do this thing. Claudia [Karvan]'s a very accomplished actress as well. And even the young people, Isabel [Lucas] and Michael Dorman, are incredibly good. I always think that that's what makes a good genre movie. Obviously the movies aren't really oriented around performance the way that a movie like Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is, but if at least the acting doesn't stink, it goes a long way. I mean, Wesley Snipes is great in Blade. The first one, he was awesome. That's what separates it."

Daybreakers opens Friday.

Avatar DVD/Blu-ray to include blue alien sex scene

If you've seen James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar, you may feel that a certain scene lacked a certain, um, something. (Spoilers ahead!)

We're talking about the scene in which Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) do the horizontal mambo in the jungle of Pandora. Actually, all we see is them snogging and cuddling; there's no actual alien sex.

Well, fire up that Blu-ray player, because Cameron recently told reporters that he shot a much more explicit scene that was cut out to achieve the PG-13 rating, according to Reelz:

We had it in and we cut it out. So that will be something for the special edition DVD, if you want to see how they have sex.

If you surmise that Na'vi sex involves intertwining ponytail tendrils, you may be right, Saldana says:

If you sync to your banshee and you're syncing to a tree, why not sync into a person? I almost feel like you'll have the most amazing orgasm, I guess. It was a very funny scene to shoot because there were so many technical things that sometimes you have to keep in mind that paying attention to all those might disrupt the fluidity of how a scene is supposed to take place.

Click over to read more. Avatar is now playing.

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