Friday, January 15, 2010

News - 01/15/10...

Eli, Chan and Bones Stack Up Against Avatar

Three more films are lining up to enter the box office battle with James Cameron’s Avatar for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, as January proves to be anything but dull for new movie releases.

Up first is the post-apocalyptic action film The Book of Eli, which stars Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis. The Warner Bros. release has garnered good anticipatory buzz from a solid promotional campaign plus the high profile of its stars. It opens in more than 3,100 cinemas.

Also new this week is the family action comedy The Spy Next Door, starring Jackie Chan as a babysitting super spy. The Lionsgate film will appear in more than 2,900 theaters.

Expanding this week is The Lovely Bones, the new film from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. The DreamWorks-Paramount release, adapted from the popular Alice Seybold novel, features dream-like visual effects from Weta Digital and will ramp up to just under 2,600 cinemas after about a month in limited release.

Avatar continues to perform incredibly well as it heads for its fifth weekend in release. The film has to date grossed $446 million domestically and $974 million overseas for a total of $1.4 billion. The question remains whether the film will be able to top the all-time record of $1.8 billion held by Titanic, another Cameron film.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Disney Hires Bailey as Film Production Chief

The Walt Disney Studios has hired Tron: Legacy producer Sean Bailey as its new president of film production.

Bailey will oversee all aspects of live-action development, film production and physical production for Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures.

He replaces Oren Aviv, who was let go from the studio last week, and will report to studio chairman Rich Ross.

“I am honored and thrilled to join a company with the history and tradition of the Walt Disney Studios,” said Bailey. “Working with the strong team that has been assembled under Rich's leadership, I look forward to working with the studios' impressive array of talented filmmakers to create entertaining, inspiring films that uphold the legacy and quality of classic Disney movies and capture the imagination of our global audiences."

In announcing the change, Disney spokesmen noted that "additional changes to international theatrical distribution, multicultural initiatives, publicity, communications and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment" were in the works, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The move is part of a continuing overhaul of the studio’s film production that began over the summer with Walt Disney Company president and CEO Robert Iger tapping Ross to replace longtime Disney executive Dick Cook as studio chairman.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

4Kids CEO Takes Pay Cut

Al Kahn, the CEO of struggling children’s entertainment distributor 4Kids Entertainment, is taking a pay cut of 15 percent.

According to, Kahn’s cut brings his pay down to $765,000.

4Kids, which operates a kids programming block on The CW television network, has been hit hard by investment losses and difficulties getting its Chaotic TCG property off the ground

Other execs at the company, including the CFO and general counsel, also have new compensation agreements that offer incentives of up to double their annual salary if they succeed in finding a buyer to take over the company.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Lionsgate Leads Bidding for Terminator Rights

Lionsgate has emerged as the frontrunner in bidding for the rights to the Terminator movie franchise, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The rights to the franchise were put up for sale in September by Halcyon Group, which produced last summer’s Terminator Salvation movie and is trying to raise cash and work its way out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

According to the Times, Lionsgate has been declared the “stalking horse” bidder by the bankruptcy court. Anyone wishing to outbid the company must pledge $500,000 more than Lionsgate is offering by Feb. 5 at 5:40 p.m. The new owner will be announced at a hearing on Feb. 10.

The film series has changed hands four times since the first film, The Terminator, debuted in 1984. It was followed by Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991, Terminator: Rise of the Machines in 2003 and last year’s Terminator Salvation. A television series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, began airing on the Fox network in 2008 and ran two seasons before being canceled.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

WGA Nominates Five Games for Writing Honor

The Writers Guild of America has nominated five titles for its outstanding writing in a videogame award.

The nominees, chosen from a record field of submissions that more than doubled last year’s entries, are:

Assassin's Creed II, Story by Corey May, Script Writers Corey May, Joshua Rubin, Jeffrey Yohalem; Ubisoft Entertainment
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Written by Jesse Stern, Additional Writing Steve Fukuda, Story by Todd Alderman, Steve Fukuda, Mackey McCandlish, Zied Rieke, Jesse Stern, Jason West, Battlechatter Dialogue, Sean Slayback; Activision
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Written by Amy Hennig; Sony Computer Entertainment
Wet, Written by Duppy Demetrius; Bethesda Softworks
X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Script Writer Marc Guggenheim; Activision

The winner will be announced at the group’s annual award ceremony, set to be held simultaneously at locations in New York and Los Angeles on Feb. 20.

To be eligible for entry, games must have been released between Dec. 1, 2008 and Nov. 30, 2009, the work must contain separate writing credits, and the credited game writer or writers must have been or must have applied to become members of the WGA’s Videogame Writers Caucus at the time scripts were submitted.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Film Lineup Announced for Cartoon Movie Event in Lyons

The 2010 edition of Cartoon Movie has released the list of movies that will be screened at the event in Lyons, France, March 3-5. Dominique Monfery’s Eleanor’s Secret (Gaumont-Alphanim, La Fabrique, Lanterna Magica), Tarik Saleh’s Metropia (Atmo Metro), Sergio Manfio’s Pet Pals: Marco Polo’s Code (Gruppo Alcuni, Edebe Audiovisual), Josko Marusic’s The Rainbow (Riblje Oko, FishEye) and Rinatro’s Yona Yona Penguin (Madhouse, Denis Friedman Productions) are the five completed movies screening at this year’s top-marquee edition.

According to organizers 450 participants, including 130 buyers and 75 distributors (Dreamworks, Gaumont, MK@, La Pacte, Fox Searchlight, Gebeka and Celluloid Dreams to name a few) have registered for this year’s co-production forum. The deadline for registration for the 12th Edition is January 22.

Eleanor’s Secret

In addition to the five completed projects, Cartoon Movie will showcase 45 projects in various stages of development and production. Attendees can look forward to new projects from acclaimed international helmers such as Patrice Leconte (Les Bronzes), Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir), Kari Juusonen (Niko), Raoul Servais (Papillon de Nuit) and Benedicte Galup (Kirikou and the Wild Beasts).

Guests are also invited to tour the new animation center La Cartoucherie near Valence, home of Folimage, La Poudriere school, Les Films du Nord, Toondra, Les Tanukis and TeamTO.

For more info about Cartoon Movie, visit

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Oscar Disqualifies Princess & Frog Score

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has disqualified Disney’s The Princess and the Frog from the Best Original Score Oscar race.

A statement released by the group states that the animated film was found by the Music Branch Executive Committee to violate an Academy rule that states “scores diluted by the use of tracked themes or other preexisting music, diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs, or assembled from the music of more than one composer shall not be eligible.”

The movie features music by Randy Newman that is heavy on jazz.

Four songs in the film remain eligible in the song category, according to the Academy’s statement.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Italy’s JimJam Buys 200 Half Hours from Decode

Decode Entertainment has sold nearly 200 half hours of preschool programming to Italian channel JimJam.

The deal includes all three seasons of Bo on the Go! and Poko and all seasons of puppet show Mighty Jungle, as well as Martha Speaks and the live-action series Grandpa in My Pocket.

“It’s great to sign a deal which incorporates such a diverse range of shows across our preschool library as it underscores the strength of our slate in such a competitive demographic,” says Lara llie, territory manager at Decode.

“Each of these shows from Decode has something very different to offer and all of the stories are original, fun, and full of charm,” says Preena Bhatia, head of acquisitions and planning for JimJam. “These high quality children’s productions fit perfectly with JimJam’s line-up of programming and complement the channel’s fun and safe environment for young children to grow and develop with their favorite characters.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Whatever Happened to Foodfight?

In 2004, CG animation studio Threshold Entertainment and Motion Picture Magic, a product placement company in Encino, teamed up to produce a food version of Toy Story titled Foodfight. Announced with great fanfare, Foodfight would team 80 name-brand products and their associated characters, including Mr. Clean, Cap’n Crunch, Charlie the Tuna, the Engergizer Bunny and the Brawny paper towel man, in an adventure set in a supermarket city - and a voice cast including Charlie Sheen, Eva Longoria, Chris Kattan and Christopher Lloyd. The last time we reported any news on the film was in 2007, when Lionsgate supposedly picked up the film for release.

I’d completely forgotten about the project until Brew reader Kurtis Findlay sent me this pic of merchandising (photo above) he found while he was Christmas shopping. Kurtis says, “I have to say that the characters look far better in 2D than they do in 3D! Do you think the manufacturer of this product got sick of all of them sitting in their warehouse and just released them without the movie tie-in?” Probably. And one look at the characters tells me this film might have better luck remaining unseen and on the shelf.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Animal Drawing Workshop with David Colman

Character designer and story artist David Colman (who is also the author of The Art of Animal Character Design) will be holding a weekend animal drawing workshop on January 30-31st. The LA-area classes take place at the Page Museum and Los Angeles Zoo between 10am-4pm each day. The class description:

Learn anatomy, gesture, and construction. Gain the tools needed to become proficient at the art of animal drawing, especially how to study from life. The class will consist of numerous handouts, accompanied with demonstrations and 1-on-1 instruction. First day is a six-hour course spent studying bones and skeletal structure @ the La Brea Tarpits in which you will learn the basic inner structure of quadrupeds. David will be doing a one hour demo study of one of the skeletons. The second day will be six hours spent @ the LA Zoo in which you will be studying about five different animals throughout the day.

The two-day workshop is $200, but Cartoon Brew readers who mention our site when signing up will receive $25 off. You can register either by email — dcolman27 (at) hotmail (dot) com — or by phone (818-512-6255). Cash, check or charge accepted. Students will be responsible for admission to the Page Museum and LA Zoo.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Mak the Horny Mac-Daddy by Ian Miller

I saw Ian Miller’s one-minute short last year at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, when I was a member of the festival’s three-person short film jury. We gave it an honorable mention for the undergraduate animation category (it was created at UArts in Philly). Looking at it again, I remain impressed by the insane amount of graphic inventiveness that Ian fits into every frame of his animation. There is nothing cliche about the way anything moves in this film. The ideas flow straight out of Ian’s twisted mind onto the screen, and it’s loads of fun to watch.

(Thanks, Brian Lonano, for the link)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Action-Packed Clip For Halo: Legends

Warner Bros has pass along to us a 44-second clip from Halo: Legends, a CG & traditional animated anthology containing eight episodes that explores the origin and historical events of the Halo universe and its various characters inhabiting the world. Like Animatrix and Batman Gotham Knight, each of the episodes was created by a separate prominent Japanese anime producer. In this particular clip, we get to see an action scene with Master Chief and his fellow Spartans blast their way through enemies in true kick-ass fashion. This was taken from the episode entitled "The Package" which was animated by Casio Entertainment under the creative supervision of Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed Ex Machina) and from a script by Dai Sato (Cowboy Bebop).

"The Package" finds Master Chief and four specially-selected Spartans launched out of a stealth cruiser and into the heart of a giant Covenant fleet in a bid to recover a valuable intelligence asset. The episode is a showcase for the Spartans' impressive fighting capabilities, whether it be hand-to-hand combat, ground assaults, or in zero-G while piloting never-before-seen light attack vehicles.

Very cool stuff. The single disc and 2-disc special edition for both DVD and Blu-Ray is available in stores, digital download and in-demand on February 16th. You'll find the clip embedded below.

(Thanks Twitch)

Down in Culver City

I spent most of the morning at fabled Sony Pictures Animation/Imageworks, where company staffers updated me on Sony doings.

There's a bunch of different films in various stages of development at SPA. There's the Smurfs project (live-action and animation), and the third installment of Open Season that's moving briskly along (production being done by Reel Effects in Dallas, same as the second picture). And Hotel Transylvania is in some development transitions.

"We're reworking the story, stripping it down. We had too many characters and too many plot lines. Management told board artists to board exactly what was in the latest cript and then weren't too happy with the result. We spent some long days going through sequences and restructuring, and we're still going through sequences ..."

Another staffer said to me, "This isn't brain surgery, story construction isn't that complicated, but we've had a lot of managers come and go and it gets hard to figure out which each of them wants ..."

And over in the hybrid live action-animation department, there is this news about Spidey:

Marc Webb, the (500) Days Of Summer director, has climbed to the top of the Sony Pictures' list to rebirth the Spider-Man franchise. While the studio has a wish list of star directors like James Cameron, David Fincher, and Wes Anderson, the emergence of Webb as director comes as a huge surprise. But Mike Fleming's sources tell him Webb met about the Spidey reboot with the pic's producers and executives looking to get the picture into production later this year for a Summer 2012 release. ...

This morning, a Sony staffer who knows the departing Sam Raimi said to me:

"Sam really had an impossible task. They wanted a BIG production, and they wanted it for summer 2011. And Sam said, 'I can't do the picture you want for the budget you want. And I can't get all the effects shots done if they all go through Imageworks. I'll need more money and I'll have to go to other effects houses.' ..."

One artist said he thought Sony management gave Raimi and impossible task so that he would end up quitting. Idle speculation, of course. Movie execs never, never do that kind of thing, do they?

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The Permanence of Three Dee -- Part X

Forget the artistic considerations. This is what our fine congloms will be looking at:

Moviegoers spent $1 billion to see 3-D films at U.S. and Canadian theaters last year, as features including News Corp.’s “Avatar” drove total box-office revenue to a record.

Ticket sales for 3-D showings accounted for 9.4 percent of the total in 2009, according to Box-Office.
“Avatar,” still in theaters, made $212 million in U.S. sales last year from 3-D screenings, about 75 percent of its $283.6 million total, the Los Angeles-based researcher said ...

And there's one studio that is going to have a trio of 3-D spectaculars in theatres near you in 2010.

Today, shares of DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA) have crossed bullishly above their 10-day moving average of $40.27 on volume of 170 thousand shares.

Could there be some connection between stock price and the upcoming stereo features? Naaaww.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Wild Things are coming home this spring

DVD Active reveals that Where the Wild Things Are, the live-action movie based on Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book of the same name, will be hitting store shelves on DVD and Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack on March 2nd. Nothing is known about the DVD release at this point, but the Blu-Ray will include a brand new short film, Higglety Pigglety Pop, featuring the voices of Forest Whitaker and Meryl Streep.

Hoodwinked Too! toys now at Burger King, despite movie’s delay

Burger King is now selling six new toys based off of the movie Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil with their kids meals. The sequel to the surprise 2006 hit was originally supposed to come out this weekend, but the Weinstein Company made the decision last month to indefinately delay the release of the film. Reasons for the change are unknown, but it could be because competing against Jackie Chan’s The Spy Next Door for a similar audience may not have seemed like a good idea, especially with the Weinstein Company’s desperate need for a hit right now. The studio has been going through financial trouble for a long time, with their Oscar hopeful Nine bombing with a current box office take of $17 million against a production budget of $80 million.

John K. Looks Back at 80s’ Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures

Animation fans got a late holiday gift in January when Paramount Home Entertainment released the 3-disc Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures—The Complete Series. This influential series (1987-1988), 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. The talented and always-irreverent Mr. John K. (Ren & Stimpy) was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the show. We always get a kick out of his wonderful take on the animation scene and hope you’ll enjoy it too:

Animag: Why is it about the 1980s’ Mighty Mouse incarnation that made it such a great animated show? What stands out in your mind for the experience?

John K:
It was a great experience and totally fun because it was the first cartoon in decades where cartoonists had creative control over the show. We felt like Ralph Bakshi had freed us from bondage. We wrote the stories ourselves, were allowed to experiment with visual styles, with acting, with anything that struck us creatively. This was the absolute opposite of the situation in animation in the 1980s, where cartoonists had no input and cartoons weren’t allowed to be imaginative.

It was as close as you could get to the spirit of the 1930s—although on a TV budget, so we did have to make practical sacrifices, like sending the actual animation itself overseas. As a safeguard we kept “layout” in the studio and we drew all the important poses and expressions-the keys, here. That way we could at least control creatively, the acting and look of the cartoons.

The characters in Mighty Mouse seemed a lot more alive than the rest of Saturday Morning cartoons because we custom-drew every single pose. We didn’t trace model-sheets, like we were forced to do at the other studios.

Was the schedule the toughest aspect of working on the series?

John K:
The budget and schedule were the biggest challenge. We were all inspired and wanted to bring back a creative cartoon renaissance –but within three months! We had too many ideas and wanted to stuff them all into a mere 13 half-hours over a summer, while completely restructuring the whole production system of animated TV cartoons.

Luckily I had been experimenting with this new system on previous projects especially on the new Jetsons a couple years earlier, where I used the layouts to customize all the expressions and poses to the voice actors’ inflections.

Also, a handful of us had been working with Ralph on developing shows and stories just before Mighty Mouse, and we did a fully animated rock video for the Rolling Stones, so we had some practice working together – which is essential to making a good cartoon. Bob Jacques and I directed the animation, Lynne Naylor, Jim Smith worked on it and Tom Minton and Jim Reardon and I had written all this development for potential new cartoon series. Mighty Mouse just happened to be the one that sold, so we stuffed some of the ideas we had been toying with for other characters into the show and of course added a lot of new ones.

The “idea” of a cartoon, to me, is not half as important as having a sensible production system and a crew that you are in synch with and have worked with before. It’s like being in a band. You gotta practice. People always ask me “Where did you get the idea for Ren and Stimpy?” There is no idea. The idea was to make the cartoons fun. It’s like asking the Beatles, “Where did you get the idea for singing “yeah yeah yeah” in your songs. The idea isn’t a particular song or cartoon. The idea is to put talented people together under a leader who knows how to get the best out of them.

How does making an animated show back then differ from making cartoons for TV today? Do you miss the old days???

John K:
Well I’m not in the mainstream of making cartoons. I make commercials and rock videos. Those are pretty free and I produce them similarly to how I did Mighty Mouse or Ren and Stimpy, but with some computer coloring and compositing.

Many modern TV cartoons, I think, rely too heavily on the technology and not on the drawings or characterizations. I’m sure there are exceptions, but Flash has kind of killed a lot of good things we used to do.

Are there any particular episodes of Mighty Mouse that stand out in your mind?

John K:
There are only about five cartoons that I can really say “worked”. That is, that they achieved what I wanted to achieve. They are all imaginative, but many are so rushed and chaotic that they aren’t all easy to follow. The ones I am most proud of are a handful of cartoons where the characters seemed motivated from within and the plot was structured around their personalities.

Many cartoons start with an “idea” or a plot, and just cram the characters into them. My best cartoons are the ones where the characters themselves motivate the plot.

Tom Minton wrote “The Littlest Tramp,” and as crazy as the story was in its details, it was fairly traditionally structured – it was about something and someone.

I also liked how “Mighty’s Benefit Plan,” “Night on Bald Pate,” “The Ice Goose Cometh” and “Night of the Bat Bat” came out. They had gripping moments where you really were with the characters. I used what I learned from Mighty Mouse and built on it in Ren and Stimpy. All the stories I did then were motivated from within the characters.

How did you get involved with the project?

John K:
Like I said in a response to another question, I had been working with Ralph already, developing cartoon ideas for Saturday morning networks. MM just happened to be what sold. When it did Ralph put me in charge creatively.

A lot of people we talk to believe that we’re now experiencing a new Golden Age of Animation. What is your take on that? Do you believe that?

John K:
It is? I haven’t heard that since the early to mid ’90s and didn’t believe it then! Maybe it’s a Golden Age of texture-mapping or pores, but I see many modern cartoons as being back to the old formulas, with non-cartoonists running the show again. There are a few exceptions that seem to delight in anarchy for anarchy’s sake (like some of our Mighty Mouses!). I’d like to see cartoons go back to the traditional principles of great drawing skill combined with humor and wild imagination. Or at least aim at that.

What was the animated show/movie (or animator) that made you realize you wanted to get into animation?

John K:
Almost all of the cartoons made from the 1930s to the early 1960s: Disney, WB, even Hanna Barbera while they were still cartoony. The idea that really specific unique characters could do wildly impossible things that we couldn’t do in real life. That’s why I make cartoons.

I’d like to conclude with what Mighty Mouse meant for me and others who benefited from the show. Ralph is the Lincoln of cartoonists. There should be a huge marble monument to him in the middle of Burbank where all the animators can see who gave us back a few years of freedom. I’m not sure how many of the lucky young “creator-driven” show-runners of today know what it was like before Mighty Mouse. Ralph made the ’90s cartoony resurgence possible.

Paramount’s Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures—The Complete Series ($45.98 is the official price, but you can buy it for $30 on is currently available in stores and online. To get more info and create a Mighty Mouse version of yourself, visit,

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Eugene Levy to receive ACTRA Award of Excellence

Canadian funnyman Eugene Levy, a veteran of both live-action and animated productions, will receive an ACTRA Award of Excellence on Thursday, January 21 at a special afternoon reception at the Canadian residence of David Fransen, consul-general of Canada in Los Angeles.

Formally known as the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, ACTRA is the national organization of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, the comedy legend is known to audiences around the world, having starred in more than 40 films and the ground-breaking sketch-comedy TV series SCTV.

In animated series, he was Joe Larsen in Nelvana's Committed (2001), and was in the voice cast of DiC Entertainment's Camp Candy (1989).

He provided the voices of Sternn, the Male Reporter and Edsel in the 1981 movie Heavy Metal. More recently, he voiced Clovis in Curious George (2006), Lou in Over The Hedge (2006) and Orrin in Astro Boy (2009).

In the 2001 Nelvana TV special Gahan Wilson's The Kid, he provided the voice of the Father.

He's also guested on episodes of Hercules (as King Midas), Duckman (as Dr. Craig Ehrlich) and Dilbert (as Comp-U-Comp's Guard).

"Mr. Levy has invested considerable time and resources giving back to Canada's film and TV industry," ACTRA said. "He has participated in countless charities and fundraising efforts, remains a committed and active Second City alumni, and is chair of Telefilm Canada Features Comedy Lab."

The ACTRA National Award of Excellence recognizes a member's career achievements and contribution to fellow performers and the Canadian industry. Previous recipients include Sandra Oh, Kiefer Sutherland, Tonya Lee Williams, Lloyd Bochner and Leslie Nielsen.

Levy is a member of the Order of Canada. He has a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

Tuber’s Two Step by Chris Wedge

This is a 1985 student film directed by Chris Wedge, who, of course, went on to become the creative head of Blue Sky and direct Ice Age. To give it a bit of historical context, it falls between The Adventures of AndrĂ© and Wally B. and Luxo Jr. From the YouTube description: “Though visually sparse, the film marks a significant turning point in computer animation, both for eschewing the usual chrome-and-perfect-geometric-shapes of the era, and for extensively applying traditional animation techniques — follow-through, squash-and-stretch, etc.”

The video is part of the Vintage CG Channel on YouTube which is filled with rare examples of early computer animation. It’s still hard to wrap my head around just how far CGI has advanced in a few decades.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Spoilers, sick jokes from Family Guy, Simpsons, Futurama

Futurama is back, The Simpsons takes on Twilight, and Family Guy puts the intestinal gas in Return of the Jedi.

Those are a few of the revelations we got from the cast and creators of the animated series when we caught up with them this week at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. (Spoilers ahead!)

Family Guy's Jedi spoof isn't afraid to go there

The upcoming third installment of the Family Guy Star Wars spoofs—called I've Got a Bad Feeling About This—takes humor to a new low when it drops on DVD and Blu-ray in December.

Peter Griffin's Han Solo gets unfrozen from carbonite with a scatological joke. "As I recall, it's during the scene in which Princess Leia thaws out Han Solo from the carbon freeze in Jabba's palace," said Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. "He's got a fart that's been brewing for some time."

Bad Feeling actually went so far in its initial cut that even MacFarlane thought the jokes needed to be reined in. A bit.

"There was a scene in Bad Feeling that got cut out of the final," MacFarlane said. "When they're on the moon of Endor, and Han and Leia and everybody capture the imperial guard that's inside the shield generator, they bring them outside and force them to dig their own graves. I think at one point Peter says, 'You, suck his d--k while you're digging his grave.' That obviously got cut out, because Family Guy really is a show that likes to be family-friendly."

When the Star Wars spoof trilogy is complete, MacFarlane has his sights set on another sci-fi milestone: Can you imagine the Griffin family as the crew of the Enterprise? "We would love to do Star Trek II," MacFarlane said. "That's the next one we'd like to do."

The weekly series of Family Guy has had sci-fi touches too, as when they reunited the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation as themselves. MacFarlane revealed that an upcoming episode substitutes the Family Guy opening theme for a spoof of a '70s classic.

"We have our Incredible Hulk opening coming up," MacFarlane teased.

The Simpsons puts Harry Potter in Twilight

The Simpsons' next "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween episode includes a bit that nails the vampire craze, pun definitely intended.

"We have a catch-all vampire segment where Lisa falls for an 8-year-old vampire voiced by Daniel Radcliffe" of Harry Potter fame, said Simpsons executive producer and show runner Al Jean. "We mention Twilight, but it's far from being just Twilight. Vampires, this is like the biggest they've ever been. We do True Blood. The premise of it is that there's a Twilight-type kid, an 8-year-old whose father is like Bela Lugosi, so they really don't get along. The dad bonds with Homer. We also have Count Chocula, the Count from Sesame Street ... we have all the vampires in the segment."

Another Halloween segment springboards off the premise of Jumanji: Bart and Milhouse play a game that brings all their boardgames to life, and they rampage through Springfield.

Futurama promises to be smarter than ever

Katey Sagal, who provides the voice of Leela, said to expect the funny when Comedy Central brings back Futurama for 26 new episodes, of which she's recorded 12 so far.

"It is so funny," Sagal said. "I can't wait for people to see it. I've always thought the writing is amazing, but this year it's hysterically funny."

Futurama was first saved from cancellation when 20th Century Fox put out four DVD movies, which later aired on Comedy Central in 30-minute segments.

"Futurama is the show that keeps threatening to die, and then the fans just won't let it," Sagal said. "I don't know if that just spurs on the writers even more or if they just have free rein. There's such good writing, so I think people will really be happy."

In the latest episode she recorded, Sagal said that Leela's parents show up. (We last met them in the season-four episode "Leela's Homeworld.") "You know more than me," Sagal joked. "We revisit Leela's parents. That's pretty good."

The DVD film Bender's Big Score came closest to allowing Fry and Leela to get together, and Sagal said there's still hope for them in the new season. "There's always hope for her and Fry," Sagal said. "It's an ongoing struggle, but they keep trying to make it work. They continue."

Wes Anderson’s Animated Acceptance Speech

While critical darling UP took home the Best Animated Feature prize at this year’s National Board of Review awards, the stop-motion feature Fantastic Mr. Fox was awarded the Special Filmmaking Achievement. In accepting the award, director Wes Anderson did something altogether unique – he animated his speech.

Topical Tobi! Debuts Abroad March 7

Little Airplane Productions’ preschool series Tobi! will premiere March 7 on Nickelodeon Australia and Treehouse TV/Canada.

March 7 is UNICEF’s annual International Children’s Day of Broadcasting, on which the United Nations group asks broadcasters to air programs for, about or by children.

The series is about a little boy who wants to make his world a better place and helps preschool viewers understand such issues as human rights, endangered species and homelessness. Each episode has been researched and tested for comprehension under the supervision of Laura G. Brown, the company’s supervising director of research of curriculum.

Tobi!’ is designed to help prepare a new generation for the social, ethical and environmental challenges that we all face,” said Josh Selig, president and founder of Little Airplane Productions. “We decided to launch our new series on UNICEF's International Day of Broadcasting because we believe that our goals with this project are in alignment with UNICEF's mission to 'advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.'"

Little Airplane is the award-winning creator of some of preschool television’s most popular shows, including The Wonder Pets! and 3rd & Bird!

“Tobi!” was created by Selig, Jim Chong and Jennifer Oxley. The show will be animated in traditional drawn animation. Little Airplane’s Supervising Producer Tone Thyne heads up the production. The show was entirely produced at Little Airplane's New York studio.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

We're all Joes here: New G.I. Joe, Transformers coming to TV

New animated versions of G.I. Joe and Transformers are coming soon to a television near you, courtesy of Hub, Discovery Communications and Hasbro toy company's new cable brand for children's programming.

The announcement came Thursday in Pasadena, Calif., at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, where Hasbro Joint Venture president and CEO Margaret Loesch said she is now president and CEO of the Hub network, which is replacing Discovery Kids.

"Absolutely, we look forward to it," Loesch said in an interview. "They've got some engaging characters, some great stories, and it's really sort of come full circle. When we were producing the shows years ago, we knew that we had something special with some of those programs. It's fun to reinvigorate them now, reinvent them and come back and bring new programming."

The move is spurred, no doubt, by the recent success of live-action blockbuster movies based on the longstanding toy franchises.

Hub may be a kids' network, but if you raced home from school to watch G.I. Joe and Transformers, you know you still watch them now that you're a so-called grown-up. "I think you'll like what we're doing, because creatively what we're trying to do is embrace what was done previously—the mythology and the legacy—but also take it forward with some new characters and then sort of digging deep a little bit into the existing characters and revealing more about them," Loesch continued. "I think you'll be very happy. Look, one of the things I worry about most are those die-hard fans that write me and say, 'Don't ruin it.' So we're not going to ruin it. It's going to be really good."

They're happy to have you watch, too. The network targets children aged 6-12 as their main demographic, but they hope and expect to have entire families watching Hub shows together.

"This is for kids and their families," Loesch said. "We really think that there's going to be some broad appeal. Clearly, from a content perspective, we don't want to air anything that's inappropriate for kids age 6-12, but is the storytelling going to be engaging for you and me? Absolutely. When we sit in a room and write stories, we're doing it to entertain ourselves. We're trying to challenge our own imaginations. That's why I don't think we'll disappoint the old fans, we won't disappoint the teens."

You may get to see the old episodes of Hasbro shows, too: Hub is also pursuing syndication deals. "Our head of acquisitions has just come on board," Loesch said. "We're talking to all the studios. We're talking to producers. We're even talking to other Discovery channels to see if they have product that isn't on for whatever reason, if they changed their positioning. There might be some product we should take a look at."

Loesch said she has approximately 24 new shows in development. She expects to announce some of the titles in the summer.

Joe Johnston Says 'Captain America' Will Be 'Something Different'

With the predominance of “Spider-Man 4” and “Thor” news over the last few weeks, “The First Avenger: Captain America” has been relatively quiet by comparison. However, as “Captain America” gears up to begin filming in June, director Joe Johnston has indicated that the film may take Cap in unexpected directions.

“It's not going to be a Captain America that you expect,” said Johnston during an interview with “It's something different. It is influenced by the comic book, but it goes off in a completely different direction. It's the origin story of Captain America. It's mostly period— there are modern, present-day bookends on it — but it's basically the story of how Steve Rogers becomes Captain America.”

“The great thing about Captain America is he's a super hero without any super powers,” continued Johnston. “Which is why this story, among the hundreds of super hero stories, appealed to me the most. He can't fly, he can't see through walls, he can't do any of that stuff. He's an every man who's been given this amazing gift of transformation into the perfect specimen—the pinnacle of human perfection. How does that affect him? What does that mean for him emotionally and psychologically? He was this 98-pound weakling, he was this wimp, and he's transformed instantly into this Adonis. You'd think he got everything he wanted. Well, he didn't get everything he wanted. The rules change at that point and his life gets even more complicated and dire.”

Johnston also dropped some hints regarding the story of the film.

“For me, that's the interesting part of the story,” added Johnston. “It's got some great action sequences in it and some incredible stuff that we've never seen before. But at the heart of it, it's a story about this kid who all he wants to do is fit in. This thing happens and he still doesn't fit in. And he has to prove himself a hero — essentially go AWOL to save a friend. Eventually at the very end, I don't want to give away to much, but he does fit in. But it's the journey of getting him there that's interesting. And it's a lot of fun.”

While thus far, there have been no official announcements regarding who will portray Captain America on the big screen, Zachary Levi, Kellan Lutz and “Avatar” star Sam Worthington have all expressed interest in wielding the shield.

Has 'Spider-Man' Found A Director?

It looks like we were relatively spot-on with our picks for a "Spider-Man" director, as three of our five suggestions are now being rumored as top contenders to bring your friendly neighborhood webslinger back to the big screen. However, one of them — "500 Days of Summer" director Marc Webb — looks to be the favorite.

According to Deadline Hollywood, Sony's current director wishlist includes Webb, James Cameron ("Avatar"), David Fincher ("Zodiac"), and Wes Anderson ("Rushmore"). The site claims that Webb has already met with producers and studio execs about the "Spider-Man" reboot, and the plan is to get the film into production this year for a 2012 release. The long production time will allow the studio to film in 3-D.

"What has Sony execs excited is the fact that (500) Days of Summer introduced a director with a grasp of how to depict the way young people think and feel," reports the site. "This is critical because the Jamie Vanderbilt script covers the formative years of a high school-aged Peter Parker, and that POV is as important as the action sequences."

Our original list of suggested "Spider-Man" directors didn't include Fincher despite his ties to "Spider-Man" screenwriter James Vanderbilt — and there's a good reason for that. Back in February the director revealed that he had already been asked about doing the first "Spider-Man" movie and revealed what he liked (and absolutely hated) about the superhero.

“The thing I liked about Spider-Man was I liked the idea of a teenager, the notion of this moment in time when you're so vulnerable yet completely invulnerable," he said.

But before Spider-fans jump on board the Fincher bandwagon, the director said it was Spidey's origin that he just couldn't stomach.

"I wasn't interested in the genesis, I just couldn't shoot somebody being bitten by a radioactive spider – just couldn't sleep knowing I'd done that," he explained.

Looks Like Sinestro Will Be In The Green Lantern Movie After All, And Here's Who's Playing Him!!

Merrick here...

Earlier this week, we learned that Peter Sarsgaard was in talks to play Dr. Hector Hammond in Martin Campbell's GREEN LANTERN movie. This disappointed fans who were hoping Sinestro would make an appearance in the film.


Drew over at HitFix has learned that Sinestro may be in the movie after all - evidently in an introductory capacity with an aim towards using the character (and the actor playing him) in future installment.

And who's it gonna take that role? Looks like Harry's initial report that Jackie Earle Haley would play the part are panning out. Drew says...

Jackie Earle Haley is the only choice for Sinestro by the studio.

So I'm not going to play a semantics game here... there is a very real difference in meaning between terms like
"in talks" and "in negotiations" and "on a list," and I'm not sure where they are in that process right now. But I am willing to say that Haley is the guy. He just wrapped up some additional shooting on "Nightmare" for the studio, and they're said to be extremely happy with his work in the film. The groundwork is being laid in the first "Lantern" for a much larger role for Sinestro later on if this first movie does well, and they like the idea of continuing their relationship with Haley.

...says Drew HERE. Be sure to click the link for more details.

(Thanks AICN)

See the storyboards from James Cameron's Spider-Man

Now that Sony's going to reboot its Spider-Man franchise, starting from scratch, it's worth recalling that Avatar's James Cameron was once the guy who was developing a movie based on the comic, way back in 1992.

Techland has unearthed Cameron's original storyboards for his version of Spidey, which give us a glimpse of the movie that could have been. And might still be??

Here's Techland's summary of Cameron's Spider-Man movie:

Clashes with Marvel execs squished Cameron's spider wish, but not before the director had put a good amount of work into the doomed flick. Luckily, as the Toronto Star wrote earlier, Cameron's storyboards are online, giving us a look at what could have been.

To be fair, Cameron's storyline is not a drastic reach from Sam Raimi's 2002
Spider-Man. But it is edgier. Cameron's Peter Parker steals, kills a criminal (albeit accidentally) and not only does he kiss love interest Mary Jane, he has sex with her. On top of the Brooklyn Bridge.


Cameron's movie would have had Electro and Sandman as the villains.

Click below to check out some of the storyboards and head over to Techland for more.

What do you think of Cameron's take on the franchise?

No comments: