Wednesday, March 10, 2010

News - 03/10/10...

Don Bluth to Receive Cartoons on the Bay’s Lifetime Achievement Honor

The annual Italian animation festival Cartoons on the Bay has released its list of program tributes, Pulcinella Award nominees and panels for its upcoming edition. The 14th edition of the four-day event (April 15-18), which takes place in the Rapallo, Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure (the Golfo region of Tiglio) will offer the usual mix of TV previews, special tributes, one-on-ones with directors, producers, TV execs and charming contests and local flavors.

Widely acclaimed American animator Don Bluth will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s edition of the festival. Bluth, who set a new standard for independent animators by breaking away from Disney in 1979, setting up his own studio (Sullivan-Bluth) in Ireland, and directing animated pics such as The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, Anastasia and Titan A.E. as well as the laserdisc game Dragon’s Lair has been invited to speak at the event

Atlantyca, the acclaimed Milan-based studio and publishing company behind such shows as Geronimo Stilton, Dive Olly Dive and the upcoming Oscar and Co., will receive the festival’s Italian Studio of the Year honor at this year’s festival. The studio’s chairman Pietro Marietti, CEO Claudio Mazzucco and exec producer Caterina Vacchi will present a special panel on the first day of the event.

Panels and Pulcinellas

This year’s edition will also feature a slate of panels that explore the role of animation in spreading positive messages about tolerance and cultural, social, religious and political diversity. “Our program will highlight how cartoons have reflected a wide range of diversities and continue to show how some see diversity as a threat and others see it as cultural enrichment,” notes the festival’s artistic director, Roberto Genovesi. The festival has devoted various panels and screenings to animated projects produced in China, Iran, Egypt and Dubai.

Gisella De Pace (ICE), Kevin Geiger (Magic Dumpling), Issac Wu Chen (e Top Multimedia), Wu Tao (Blue Dolphin Animation) and Kieron Seamons (Sandman Animation) will offer new insights into the Chinese Animation sector and present upcoming projects and co-productions. Also on tap is a panel on the new Chinese-Italian co-production Marco Polo, with Francesco Testa, Cristina Lastrego, Luca Milano and Alfio Bastiancich (president of Asifa, Italy). RAI will also present a premiere of its upcoming animated series, Water and Bubbles, with exec producer Max Carrier Ragazzi, Maganimation animation supervisor Claudia Arcangeli, author Elena Mora and director Guido Manuli.

The festival will also award Pulcinella Awards in nine different categories (Preschool Series, Kids Series, Tween Series, Young Adult Series, Pilot, Shot Film, UNICEF’s Educational and Issues Film, Interactive Animation, and Cross-Media Project). Christy Dena, Maya Goetz, Gary Goldman, Nicole Keeb and Diana Manson make up this year’s distinguished panel of judges.

Here is a complete list of the 2010 Pulcinella Nominations:

TV Series for Preschool
Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures
Fifi and the Flowertots
Fun with Claude
Guess with Jess
Pipi Pupu e Rosmarina

TV Series for Kids
Angelo Rules
Fanboy & Chum Chum
Geronimo Stilton
Mystery After Mystery - The Holy Shroud Told to Kids
Sally Bollywood

TV Series for Tween
Marie & Gali
Marvo the Wonder Chicken
The Penguins of Madagascar
Bunny Maloney
The Show with the Mouse (Where Willi Goes)

TV Series for Young Adults
Flying Trapeze
Kinky & Cosy
The Little Sun
Kung Fu Masters of the Zodiac

Pilot for TV Series
Animated Fairy Tales
Pumpkin Reports
Cavity Express
Marfy of Dreams
Verne on Vacation

Interactive Animation
Diabolik: The Original Sin
Superbike 2009
Uncharted2: Among Thieves
Free Running

Short Film
Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
The Gruffalo
The Lady and the Reaper
The Promise
Tora Chan

Christy Dena (director of Universe Creation 101), Maya Goetz (director of Prix Jeunesse and Intl. Central Institute for Educational and Kids’ TV, producer and director Gary Goldman (Anastasia, Titan A.E., The Land Before Time, The Secret of NIMH, Dragon’s Lair and many other acclaimed projects with Don Bluth), Nicole Keeb (ZDF’s head of intl. co-pros, development and acquisition) and Diana Manson, Chorion Ent.’s exec VP of development and creative and founder of Silver Lining Productions (Max and Ruby, Mr. Men Show, Olivia) make up this year’s distinguished panel of judges.

For more info about the 14th Edition of Cartoons on the Bay, visit

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Planet 51 Splashed Down on Disc

Sony’s Planet 51 lands on DVD and Blu-ray this week, giving animation fans a light-hearted diversion from the trials and tribulations of Oscar week.

Directed by Jorge Blanco, who worked with Javier Abad and Marcos Martinez at Madrid-based Ilion Animation Studios to produce the film, Planet 51 (Sony, $28.96 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray combo pack) comes with bonus features such as extended scenes, a music video montage, the obstacle course game “Run Rover Run!” and a multi-angle feature showing scenes in various stages of completion from breakdown to animatics, rendering and final animation. It also includes a making of documentary, a short film showing the various environments of the alien planet, and interviews with the voice actors. The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack also includes the exclusive Target 51 Game.

Children’s releases this week include Barbie in a Mermaid Tale (Universal, $19.98), Charlie & Lola Volume 10: I Can't Stop Hiccuping (Warner Bros., $14.98), Dino Squad: Mutant Mayhem (NCircle Entertainment, $6.99), Elmo's Rainbow & Other Springtime Stories (Warner Bros., $14.98), Martha Speaks: Martha Says it with Flowers (Paramount, $14.99), Pippi Longstocking: Here Comes Pippi (Phase 4 Films, $7.99 ) and Strawberry Shortcake / Spider's Tale (Phast 4 Films, $9.99).

In addition, E1 Entertainment has six Jay Jay the Jet Plane releases, each selling for $12.98: Big Jake’s Birthday Surprise, Forever Friends, Persevere With God, Snuffy's Big Picture, Super Sonic Jay Jay and You Are Special.

Anime releases arriving on American shores this week include Naruto Shippuden: Volume 7 (VIZ Media, $24.92), Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone (FUNimation, $29.98 special edition DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray) and Kenichi: Season 2, Part 2 Mightiest Disciple (FUNimation, $49.98 DVD).

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Remembrance For Animators Set for March 13

The Animation Guild, ASIFA Hollywood and Women in Animation will remember those animation industry people who died in 2009 with a nondenominational Afternoon of Remembrance March 13.

The free event is open to all and will begin with food and refreshments at noon, followed by the remembrance at 1 p.m. at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, 2100 N. Highland Ave., across from the Hollywood Bowl.

The list of those being honored includes:
• Derdad Aghmalian
• Wayne Allwine
• Ray Aragon
• Dina Gottliebova Babbitt
• Barry Blitzer
• Robert Broughton
• Bill Browne
• Lillian Chapman
• Art Clokey
• Elizabeth Cotter
• Vincent Davis
• Virginia Davis McGhee
• Dom DeLuise *
• Jaime Diaz
• Roy E. Disney
• Bob Dranko
• Jack Dunham
• Heinz Edelmann *
• Ric Estrada
• Romeo Francisco *
• John Freeman
• Giulio Gianini
• Henry Gibson
• Rod Gilchrist
• Eugene Giudice
• Marion Green
• Victor Haboush
• Ann Hamilton
• Millard Kaufman
• Dana Landsberg
• Alla Marshall
• Dallas McKennon
• Serge Michael
• Michael Mitchell *
• Flavia Mitman
• Brittany Murphy
• Marty Murphy
• Donna Narhuminti *
• Ann Neale
• June Olsen *
• Cathy Parotino
• Tony Peters
• Alexander Schure
• Kevin Sheedy
• Erich Segal
• Dave Simons
• Arnold Stang
• Mignonette Kerby Sterges
• Yoshito Usui *
• Kathy White

Any one who knows how to find speakers or memoriam writers for the people with asterisks next to their names, or any animation community members who died in 2009 and are not on this list, are asked to contact Jeff Massie at The Animation Guild via email at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

’Til Death Dreams in Animation

An upcoming episode of the Fox sitcom ’Til Death will feature an animated dream sequence.

The animated will be part of the episode titled “The Wedding” set to air March 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT. The animated sequences will show the dreams of Eddie and Joy Stark (played by Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher) about the upcoming wedding of their daughter Ally to Doug. L.A.’s thriving indie toon shop 6 Point Harness Studio animated the four independent piees for the episode, each with a distinctive 2D style.

‘Til Death is executive-produced by Don Reo, Dean Lorey, Brad Garrett, Glenn Robbins and Doug Wald for Sony Pictures Television. The series was created by real-life husband-and-wife team Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa. Rob Schiller serves as director.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Bento Box to Animate Bob’s Burgers for Fox

Burbank-based animation studio Bento Box Entertainment has been tapped to produce the animation for Bob’s Burgers, a new prime-time animated series for Fox.

The series, which has an order for 13 episodes, is about a guy who runs a burger joint with the help of his tightly wound wife and three unhelpful kids. It’s created and co-written by Loren Bouchard (Home Movies; Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist), who also is a showrunner with Jim Dauterive (King of the Hill).

Bento Box principal Mark McJimsey (King of the Hill) will be a producer on the project. Bento Box was formed last year with partners Scott Greenberg, former president and chief operating officer of Film Roman; Joel Kuwahara, a veteran producer on The Simpsons; and McJimsey, longtime producer on King of the Hill.

Bento Box is currently producing Neighbors from Hell for Twentieth Century Fox Television in conjunction with Jeffrey Katzenberg and DreamWorks Animation to premiere on TBS this summer.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Moonscoop Sells 725 Half-hours to India’s Chutti TV

Moonscoop has struck a deal with Chutti TV in India to provide 725 half hours of programming from its catalog.

The deal between the French distribution company and Sun TV’s kids outlet covers such series as Geronimo Stilton, Gasp, Dive Olly Dive, Ava Riko Teo, Bunny Maloney, Code Lyoko and Titeuf.

Chutti TV is a Tamil kids animation channel with a market share of more than 75 percent that had previously procured titles such as Chloe’s Closet and Flight Squad from Moonscoop.

“This is a significant package deal with Chutti TV across our key titles,” said Lionel Marty, president of worldwide sales at Moonscoop. “It gives us great pleasure in doing business with Sun TV Network Ltd., which is one of the major television broadcasters in India with a presence of over twenty channels across four regional languages.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

PREVIEW: Slim Pickings Fat Chances

It’s not often that I plug an animated short that isn’t finished yet, but I can’t resist this time. Slim Pickings Fat Chances is an almost-finished short by David de Rooij and Jelle Brunt from the Netherlands. The film makes no pretensions about being anything other than a funny cartoon (dialogue-less to boot), and it reminds me of a 1950s Tex Avery short in the best way possible. The timing is sharp and spot-on, the animation is funny, the characters are appealingly drawn, and the backgrounds have a delightful Paul Julian vibe. Usually, whenever artists try to capture the animation style of a bygone era, they fall short in some area or another and the effect is ruined. It’s rare when all the cogs are in place like this cartoon. It reaffirms my belief that there are superbly talented young artists working in animation today, and even when the mainstream industry doesn’t provide them opportunities, they create their own. The filmmakers have a production blog with concept art, animation tests, character designs and more. Keep an eye out for Slim Pickings Fat Chances when it hits the festival circuit later this year.

(PS: I found out about this short when David de Rooij won the caricature contest on the Brew a few weeks ago and told me about his film. A silver lining in a difficult situation.)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Runaway by Cordell Barker

Now online: Runaway, a popular short from last year by Cordell Barker (The Cat Came Back). And kudos to the NFB for making so much of their animation library, past and present, readily accessible online.

(Thanks, Warren Leonhardt)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Cliched Corporate Thinking

This isn't startling to anybody who's been paying attention:

Disney is wringing the pink out of its princess movies.

After the less-than-fairy-tale results for its most recent animated release,
"The Princess and the Frog," executives at the Burbank studio believe they know why the acclaimed movie came up short at the box office.

Brace yourself: Boys didn't want to see a movie with "princess" in the title ....

I got news for the big corporate thinkers. "Princess" on the movie posters isn't the reason the feature underperformed ...

Boys had no problem going to see Little Mermaid. And they didn't have any reluctance watching Princess Jasmine fall in love with Aladdin.

Consider another Disney hand-drawn feature: You can't get much more virile and manly than a cartoon entitled Hercules, can you? Yet the muscled Greek God performed at about the same level domestically as TP&TF ($100 million) when it came out a dozen years ago.

I would submit that both pictures had great stuff in them; both contained fine animation, zesty settings, solid voice acting and music. But based on box office, neither connected with the public the way Mermaid or Aladdin did, because the pieces didn't jell in the same way the Disney animated features came together in the first half of the nineties.

Face it, the want-to-go factor is still what it was in Samuel Goldwyn's day:

"When people don't want to come and see your movie, you can't stop them."

Anybody seriously think Princess in the title was the deal breaker? Puh-leazze. The only reason the execs cling to that as an excuse is it's an easy alibi, but Hollywood is always great with explanations that absolve it from responsiblity:

"Nobody wants to see Civil War pictures." [Gone With the Wind]
"Westerns are box office poison." [Dances With Wolves]
"Who the hell want to see an earthling fall in love with a blue alien Princess that's nine feet tall?" [Guess which movie ...]

The point is, it's the connectivity of the movie with the movie-going public that largely determines box office winners and box office losers. Titles have little to do with it.

But they're sure a convenient crutch, aren't they?

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

How to Train Your Dragon An Awesome Title?

I'm betting many would think not.

But I'm also betting it's attached to a movie that will end up doing quite well.

The first previews ... were not all the impressive. ... Then I saw the trailer in 3D in theaters and it was awesome. ... Then a screening went down, and the buzz was that people really, really like the film. ... Then we got a new trailer, which yanked my ass off the fence and brought me in line to support CG dragons. But it hasn't stopped there. DreamWorks is taking advantage of their new momentum. ...

The kind of burbling I've heard about Dragon is similar to the talk about Toy Story that was making the rounds before that film's release. Which of course doesn't mean that DreamWorks' latest is going to bust box office charts open the way TS did, but it certainly bodes well.

The more that animated features do good, the better we like it.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

LAAFA mixer, this Sunday, March 14

The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys is hosting a free Animation Industry Mixer on Sunday, March 14.

Join us for a relaxing night of socializing and art making among your fellow artists. Enjoy a glass of vino as you check out our various workshops and instructor demos.

RSVPs not necessary but appreciated. Click here for further details.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Tom & Jerry Prawn Crackers

Direct from District 9:

Amid brought me a gift from his recent trip to Singapore - a package of these Tom & Jerry Prawn Crackers. Hey, don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it… but I don’t see this coming to the Whole Foods Market anytime soon.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Package Art From Recent "Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths" Soundtrack Release

The World's Finest has a look at the package artwork for the recent Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths soundtrack score compact disc release from WaterTower Music.

To view images from the recent Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths soundtrack compact disc release from WaterTower Music, currently available to order as an Amazon-only CD release or as a digital download through iTunes and other digital music distributors, please click on the thumbnails below. The Soundtrack From The DC Universe Animated Original Movie - Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths score release features music composed by James L. Venable with additional music provided by Christopher Drake.

Check out the subsite here at The World's Finest for further coverage and information on the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths direct-to-video 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 is now available to own DVD and Blu-ray disc. The title is also available through OnDemand and Pay-Per-View. Additionally, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths – Soundtrack From the DC Universe Animated Original Movie is now available on iTunes, Amazon and other digital music retailers.

PantoGraph Points Viewers to Google Chrome

This whimsical stop-motion ad for Googles rapidly-rising browser Chrome (which I use) was produced by PantoGraph, who have teamed up with Google in the past. There’s a nice little behind-the-scenes photo collection over on PantoGraph’s blog too. It’s titled Chrome Starts Fast.

Logorama Creators Relax Poolside With Oscar

Over at the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Blvd, I met up with 3 of the clever people behind the Oscar-winning film Logorama yesterday – (inset: left to right) co-director Hervé de Crécy, producer Nicolas Schmerkin and co-director Francois Alaux. They all had a look in their eyes that I think only Oscar winners get, and I heard quick mentions of partying with Madonna the night before and an upcoming CNN interview – all while their cell phones endlessly rang.

Next up for Autour de Minuit founder Schmerkin is a series of CG/live-action shorts called Babioles. I’ve seen the first episode, and it’s wonderful. Here’s a teaser from the project, which is being directed by Matray:

Kenneth Branagh's Protégé Visits 'Thor' Set, Film Synopsis Released

As director Kenneth Branagh's highly anticipated adaptation of "Thor" enters its third month of principal photography, word from the production has continued to come from unexpected sources. British screenwriter and director Keri Collins — whom Branagh is mentoring — recently spoke out about his time on the set.

“Obviously I can’t reveal anything of what I saw whilst there but needless to say I had an awesome time and gained so much more than I expected in terms of career development," exclaimed Collins on the Marvel Movies Facebook page. "I think you guys are going to be very happy when the movie is released; what I saw absolutely blew me away."

"I was also struck by just how friendly and welcoming everyone on set was," continued Collins. "Including the fantastic Craig Kyle and Kevin Feige from Marvel who could easily have told me to go away and stop malingering around their movie set, but instead made me feel like part of the team. I heard Craig talking to someone about one of the sequences in the movie and the passion with which he delivered it was so intense and engaging that it was almost like seeing the finished movie in my head right there! These guys care so much about the source material that I don’t think the movie could be in better hands.”

Meanwhile, a synopsis for "Thor" has been making the rounds online.

"Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment present the epic adventure, “Thor,” which spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and is forced to live among humans. A beautiful, young scientist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), has a profound effect on Thor, as she ultimately becomes his first love. It’s while here on Earth that Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth."

While the synopsis hasn't been confirmed as of press time, it does seem to match the previously revealed plot points for the film.

It's also worth noting that Natalie Portman's Jane Foster is described as a "young scientist." In the original "Thor" comics, Jane Foster is a nurse who later becomes a doctor.

"Thor" is set to be released on May 06, 2011.

'The Losers' Gets A New Poster

Warner Bros. has released a new poster for "The Losers," Sylvain White's adaptation of the hit series by Andy Diggle and Jock.

The new poster features the film's actors recreating the illustrated poster that Jock created for the project (which also happens to have a prominent place on the wall here at Splash Page HQ). The only difference? Jeffrey Dean Morgan (as Clay) and Zoe Saldana (as Aisha) have switched places in the live-action poster.

We've posted the new poster below, as well as the most recent trailer for the film. "The Losers" hits theaters April 23.

First, the poster:

And now, the trailer:

Cool new Battlestar version of Beasties' 'Sabotage' video

Ever since the Beastie Boys enlisted director Spike Jonze to shoot the video of their 1984 hit Sabotage in the manner of a 1970s cop show, enterprising Webheads have recut their favorite shows to create their own version of the video, and the latest has hit the Web: One using images from Syfy's own Battlestar Galactica, below.

Youtube user katamaran78 says he's crafted a virtual shot-for-shot reboot of the video with clips from Battlestar.

This isn't even the first sci-fi homage: Check out the Star Wars and Halo recuts from a few years back, below.

Battlestar version

Original video

Empire Strikes Back


Ultimate sci-fi TV pilot guide: Your favorite shows of the future

HBO's Game of Thrones

TV pilot season is a result of what happened on television the previous fall, and considering the only sci-fi or fantasy "hit" of the season was The CW's The Vampire Diaries, with other new shows performing marginally and returning shows like Heroes fading, the broadcast networks aren't feeling a lot of love for the fantastic. In fact, CBS doesn't have anything in the pipe at all.

If you take a look through the pilots that have been ordered by broadcast and cable networks you'll see cops, lawyers, doctors, spies and families. Although there are some shows that lean toward the sci-fi-ish end of the spectrum, there are only a handful of new shows of any stripe that are going to land on the air.

Here's our list by network of the sci-fi and fantasy pilots, shows with the possibility of sci-fi and fantasy in them and shows that have been ordered to series. We've rated them on how we're guessing they'll do based on interest, star power and idea originality on a scale of 0-100 percent. (Possible spoilers ahead!)

Which are your favorites?



The Gates The supernatural crime drama sort of sounds like an anti-Eureka. It's about "a big-city cop who becomes chief of police in a seemingly sleepy planned community only to discover there's much more to the residents than meets the eye." What could that be, you ask? How about a cardiologist who is actually a "vampire-like creature" in the form of actor Luke Mably. Prison Break's Frank Grillo plays the new police chief, Nick Monohan. Janina Gavankar plays Leigh Turner, a sexy cop with a secret.

Chance of pickup: 100 percent. The Gates has a blind 13-episode commitment and will likely find a home during the summer.

No Ordinary Family Could this potential series be the new Heroes? The Shield's Michael Chiklis and Angel/Dexter's Julie Benz star in this drama, which revolves around a typical American family that experiences strange things when they suddenly find themselves with new abilities. Chiklis plays the dad and Benz plays mom, Stephanie, "a gifted scientist who develops a power for superspeed." No Ordinary Family comes from Jon Harmon Feldman (Tru Calling) and Greg Berlanti (Eli Stone). The series also stars Autumn Reeser, Romany Malco, Jimmy Bennett, Kay Panabaker, and Christina Chang.

Chance of pickup: 75 percent. Chiklis is a star, and with Heroes certainly at the end of its run this season or next, we're liking No Ordinary Family's chances.


Terra Nova Steven Spielberg must be getting bored with movies, or maybe he's just missing dinosaurs. He and Peter Chernin are trying to put together a deal for this time-travel drama "about a family from 100 years in the future who travel back in time 150 million years to the strange and inhospitable environments of prehistoric earth." According to Variety, the project would involve sets and special effects that are so elaborate, it would only be cost effective to order it directly to series. That means it's either all or nothing on this one, so there's no actual order for a pilot yet. Craig Silverstein and British writer Kelly Marcel wrote the script based on Marcel's idea.

Chance of pickup: 20 percent. It's Spielberg baby! And that means it's really, really expensive, baby!

Torchwood Doctor Who/Torchwood's Russell T. Davies no sooner came to the U.S. than he promptly pitched Fox a U.S. version of Torchwood. There's also been talk that original star John Barrowman might reprise his role as Captain Jack and that the series about a covert group of alien hunters would focus on more internationally-based stories. It's a longshot that this would go through. BBC America still holds the broadcast rights, and, as far as we know, it hasn't been canceled across the pond. That doesn't mean that there couldn't also be an American version, but there's some work to do to make a deal come together. It all sounds too good to be true.

Chance of pickup: 20 percent. We'll believe it when we see it, and we'd really like to see it.


The Cape The other superhero offering is The Cape, about "a former cop framed for a crime he didn't commit who becomes the Cape, a masked hero, to clear his name and reunite with his son." ER's Australian actor, David Lyons, plays the ex-cop, Vince Faraday. The series was created by Tom Wheeler, and the pilot is being directed by Simon West (Human Target).

Chance of pickup: 65 percent. Lyons is a star waiting to happen, and NBC isn't afraid of superheroes.

Day One Oh, poor Day One. Did NBC screw this one up, or what? Originally, Jesse Alexander's (Heroes, Lost, Alias) "series" was picked up as a mid-season replacement, only to have its order trimmed down until it was nothing more than a two-hour TV movie. The story follows what happens when "an eclectic group of neighbors in a Van Nuys, Calif., apartment building" find themselves on a quest for survival after "a global event devastates the world's infrastructures." Huh? Well, the "global catastrophe" turns out to be an alien invasion, but why NBC couldn't just come out with it? Who knows. Maybe they were scared of ABC's V taking all the alien invasion mojo away from them. All that said, the script is great, and Alexander knows how to write sci-fi television. On the unfortunate side, the "series" stars David Lyons, who's also been cast in NBC's The Cape. Day One's cast includes Adam Campbell, Julie Gonzalo, Catherine Dent, Derek Mio, Carly Pope, Addison Timlin and Thekla Reuten.

Chance of pickup: 8 percent. For whatever reason, NBC's turned its back on this one, and it will be lucky even to air as a television movie at this point.

The Event Who knows if there's actually any real sci-fi or fantasy at the core of The Event, but we're liking the chances. From The 4400's Nick Wauters, the pilot is "a thriller with a unique storytelling device that features multiple points of view concerning a decent, regular fellow who battles against mysterious circumstances that envelope a larger conspiracy." The "decent, regular fellow" is played by Jason Ritter, who stars along with Blair Underwood, Sara Roemer, Scott Peterson, Zeljko Ivanek, Ian Anthony Dale, Taylor Cole and Wes Ramsey.

Chance of pickup: 25 percent. Well, the summary couldn't be any more vague and reminds us of Day One's "global event." We're thinking this one is a bit of a long shot.

Nine Lives Call this Spielberg 2.0. Originally developed for Syfy, it's been reported that Spielberg is interested in reviving this near-death drama. "Nine Lives unfolds as an epic story of love, exploring the greatest mystery of all ... what happens after you die? The drama focuses on several characters, each grieving over the loss of a loved one. First by accident, then intentionally induced, each has discovered how to reunite with their loved ones in the afterlife through near-death experiences. But each journey to the other side brings closer an unknown evil, which is about to be unleashed on mankind." Written by Taken's Leslie Bohem.

Chance of pickup: 15 percent. Bohem is brilliant and Spielberg's a force of nature, but we're not liking its chances.

Undercovers J.J. Abrams' latest takes him back to the spy game as "a domesticated husband and wife return from years in retirement and are re-activated as CIA agents. As they work together for the first time on new cases, they discover new aspects from their past—even as they re-ignite their passion for each other." While this certainly could be a sci-fi-free series, we also know that Abrams loves sci-fi and loves to sell a sci-fi story as spy story, at least based on his work on Alias. The pilot was written by Abrams and Dirty Sexy Money's Josh Reims and features Boris Kodjoe (Surrogates) as Steven Bloom and British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Doctor Who) as his wife, Samantha. The pilot also stars Carter MacIntyre, Gerald McRaney, Jessica Parker Kennedy and Ben Schwartz.

Chance of pickup: 80 percent. Undercovers seems to have a good chance considering Abrams knows how to do spy stuff. If he can rein in the Alias-esque bizarre sci-fi plots just a bit, this has great potential.

The CW

Betwixt This very CW pilot focuses on "three teenagers who discover their lineage has granted them special abilities, which they use to fight evil." Based on the young adult novel by Tara Bray Smith, the script was written by Elizabeth Chandler (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), and Christian Duguay (The Beautiful Life) will direct. Kings' Allison Miller has been cast as one of the teens. Executive producers Carol Barbee (Jericho) and Paul Stupin are also on board.

Chance of pickup: 50 percent. With so much other fantastic fare already renewed for next year (The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Smallville), The CW may decide a spy show like Nikita is more their style.

Nikita Anne Parillaud, Bridget Fonda and Peta Wilson have all played angry spy girl La Femme Nikita in one incarnation or another. The CW has tapped Live Free or Die Hard's beautiful and kickass Maggie Q as their Nikita. In this version of the film/television franchise, "Nikita, an assassin for a top-secret government organization, goes rogue, and a troubled 19-year-old girl named Alex is recruited to bring her in." While previous TV series La Femme Nikita wasn't out and out sci-fi, it did manage some by the end of its run. This pilot is from Craig Silverstein (Bones), with Danny Cannon directing. McG and Peter Johnson also serve as executive producers. Shane West stars as Michael.

Chance of pickup: 80 percent. We're liking Nikita's chances, which has the opportunity to be filled with action, pretty kickass ladies and nonsensical spy stuff.

Nomads From super producers David W. Zucker, Ridley Scott and Tony Scott, this action drama may not have a lot of sci-fi, but it looks like a lot of fun. It's about "a group of nearly broke young backpackers abroad who agree to earn money by working secret missions for the CIA." NUMB3RS' Ken Sanzel wrote the pilot, and Scott Porter has been tapped to star.

Chance of pickup: 50 percent. It's got the producing muscle, and this might make a good Friday night companion with Smallville. But if The CW only takes on one of these three, we're liking Nikita for the top choice 'cause of the name recognition of Maggie Q's casting.



The Walking Dead You've got to love what happens after a good zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead follows a group of survivors who travel in search of a safe and secure home. Based on the comic book by Robert Kirkman, "the comic goes on to explore the challenges of life in a world overrun by zombies who take a toll on the survivors, and sometimes the interpersonal conflicts present a greater danger to their continuing survival than the zombies that roam the country. Over time, the characters are changed by the constant exposure to death and some grow willing to do anything to survive." This one is from The Green Mile's Frank Darabont, with Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert executive producer.

Chance of pickup: 75 percent. The Walking Dead has a strong crew behind the scenes and let's face it, it's time for a good television zombie apocalypse.


Steven Spielberg's Untitled Alien Invasion Series Steven Spielberg 3.0.
We don't have a title yet, but this "untitled alien invasion series" does have star Noah Wylie (The Librarian) playing the college professor who becomes the reluctant leader of "a rag-tag group of soldiers and civilians as they struggle against an occupying alien force." The series begins "shortly after aliens have wiped out most of the human population. The aliens are now rounding up the few people left, but they are met with strong resistance from a group of soldiers and civilians who fight for their survival all while struggling to maintain their humanity." The series was created by Saving Private Ryan's Robert Rodat and is produced by DreamWorks Television. The series also stars Moon Bloodgood, Drew Roy, Maxim Knight, Jessy Schram and Seychelle Gabriel.

Chance of pickup: 100 precent. It's already headed to series, and 10 episodes have been ordered.


Game of Thrones
Based on the George R.R. Martin fantasy novel series, "A Song of Ice and Fire," the series follows ""an epic struggle for power set in a vast and violent kingdom." It's high fantasy and the pay cable channel has hopes for seven seasons, one for each book. D.B. Weiss and David Benioff created the series and executive-produce. The cast is huge with some familiar names, including Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' Lena Headey, New Amsterdam's Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Threshold's Peter Dinklage, Silent Hill's Sean Bean and Stargate Atlantis' Jason Momoa.

Chance of pickup: 100 percent. HBO already has a 10 episode commitment.

Cartoon Network

Tower Prep Think a young The Prisoner. A rebellious teen named Ian, played by Drew Van Acker, "wakes up one morning to find himself trapped at a mysterious prep school focused on tapping into the 'unique potential' of its students. Ian forms a secret group with fellow students CJ (Elise Gatien), Gabe (Ryan Pinkston) and Suki (Dyana Liu) as they search for answers to where they are and how to get home." This live-action scripted drama, which may or may not involve sci-fi, was created by Paul Dini (Lost). Tower Prep is a working title and so it may change.

Chance of pickup: 100 percent. Thirteen episodes have been ordered, with the series premiering later this year.

Unnatural History Think a young Indiana Jones/Night at the Museum. This live-action scripted drama, which again may or may not involve sci-fi or fantasy, is "an action-packed mystery series centering on Henry Griffin (Kevin G. Schmidt), a teenager with exceptional skills acquired through years of globe-trotting with his anthropologist parents. Shipped off to a high school in Washington, Henry and his smooth-talking cousin Jasper (Jordan Gavaris) find themselves wrapped up in mysteries revolving around the national museum." Unnatural History is from The Mask's Mike Werb, and the pilot was directed by Emmy winner Mikael Salomon (The Andromeda Strain).

Chance of pickup: 100 percent. Thirteen episodes have been ordered, with the series premiering later this year.

Network Unknown

Untitled Star Wars live-action TV Series This project's been in the works for years and still doesn't have a title. According to rumors, George Lucas is courting Britain's top writers for pitches, OR scripts have been written, OR casting has started, OR none of the above. The idea is that the series would be set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and would focus on minor characters, such as the smugglers and bounty hunters. Lucas would definitely like to do this, and he's said he would write and produce the first season, and then "hand it off from there" and oversee the series as executive producer.

Chance of pickup: Who knows? No network is attached, and even though Lucas says he can produce the episodes for $1 million, it's going to take a lot of special effects to pull this one off. Still, he's faced greater odds, like getting Star Wars made in the first place.

Death Valley This cable pilot is in casting, but we haven't been able to find out which cable channel is doing it. It's a dark comedy about "the adventures of a team of cops that police monsters and crimes of the undead."

Chance of pickup:
Unknown. It sounds cool, but we need to know more before guessing about pickup chances ... like what cable network is interested and who's behind it.

New 'Iron Man 2' Image, Posters And Theater Standee

The debut of a new "Iron Man 2" trailer has everyone talking these days, so what better time to unveil a quartet of fresh promo images from director Jon Favreau's much-anticipated sequel.

Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios have released shots of two new posters and a theater standee featuring Iron Man and War Machine, as well as a new shot from the film featuring Tony Stark facing off against someone wearing his silver Mark II armor.

That's the theater standee above, and we've embedded the other new images after the jump. Be sure to check out our full "Iron Man 2" gallery for all the images we have from the film.

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