Thursday, March 11, 2010

News - 03/11/10...

Toon Boom Animate 2 Features Announced

Toon Boom Animation has announced a major upgrade to its signature software application with the upcoming release of Toon Boom Animate 2.

The upgrade is designed to give professional animators more power and flexibility in creating traditional, digital, cut-out and Flash-style animation.

New features include:
• Fast distribution of character parts to layers
• Easy adjustment of velocity on multiple character parts
• Efficient creation of richer-looking ambiance
• Full-fledged SWF export with effects
• Direct import of scanned drawings (TWAIN)
• Convenient text capability

The improvements to Animate 2 will enable animators to draw or import scanned drawings, color, animate, synchronize sound, set camera moves, apply effects and render projects in the leading output formats with no need to jump between multiple applications to make revisions.

It also brings together the most advanced Flash animation feature set available, all embedded in a flexible environment.

Animate’s smart Colour ID system, palette management, painting tools using vector, gradient and texture translate into significant time-savings.

Toon Boom Animate 2 can be ordered now at the special pre-launch price of $549.99, until March 21. Regular price is $699.99. More information about Toon Boom Animate 2, including upgrade info, is available online at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Autodesk Unveils 2011 Upgrades

Software maker Autodesk has announced the most-recent versions of its signature digital production applications, including Maya, Softimage and 3ds Max.

"Our 2011 products offer customers great value and integrate avant-garde technology - some developed with industry leaders like Sony Pictures Imageworks," said Marc Petit, Autodesk senior VP media and entertainment. "These versions offer much improved data interoperability through open formats like Autodesk FBX, as well as many innovative new capabilities."

Maya 2011 software offers several breakthrough capabilities, including an invigorated customizable user interface, enhanced tools for character animation including non-destructive live retargeting, high-performance display of large scenes in the viewport, new 3D editorial capabilities for pre-visualization and virtual production workflows, integrated color management, asset structures for pipeline connectivity and improved rotoscoping. Also, Maya 2011 is now available for Snow Leopard, the 64-bit Mac OS X operating system.

3ds Max 2011 features a powerful new node-based material editor, the feature most requested by 3ds Max users, and a high-quality hardware renderer that provides near production quality results 10 times faster than traditional rendering techniques on common graphics cards. It also offers a tightly integrated full-featured high dynamic range compositing system, based on Autodesk Toxik technology, as well as enhanced tools and workflows for creating and texturing models, animating characters and viewing high-quality images interactively.

Softimage 2011 introduces innovative new rendering and animation tools that help artists create more complex, high-quality characters and effects in less time.

Mudbox 2011 delivers new tools for helping deform and pose models. It also offers new image adjustment brushes and blend modes for paint layers, Vector Displacement map extraction, the ability to create higher-quality turntables, and enhanced file transfer with Maya and Adobe Photoshop.

Offering significantly improved interoperability with Maya 2011 and 3ds Max 2011, MotionBuilder 2011 now integrates more smoothly and reliably into production pipelines. Skinning and blendshape deformations are now calculated on the graphics processing unit for improved performance.

Also getting upgrades are Autodesk FBX 2011, Autodesk HumanIK 4.5 and Autodesk Kynapse 7 Middleware.

These new products will also be available as part of the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites - giving artists and production facilities access to a broad range of creative toolsets at significant cost savings. The suites offer a choice of either Maya 2011 or 3ds Max 2011, and include MotionBuilder 2011 real-time character animation software, as well as Mudbox 2011 digital sculpting and 3D painting software.

Release of the upgrades is expected in April From March 11-13, visit the Virtual GDC event on the AREA community site to watch Maya 2011 and Softimage 2011 product demonstrations and customer presentations live from the Autodesk Game Developers Conference booth.

Information on pricing can be found online at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Animag Teams up with S-3D Gaming Alliance

Animation Magazine has joined the S-3D Gaming Alliance, an industry organization that represents the interests of game developers, display manufacturers, and technology enablers in this field.

Animation Magazine will provide the digital version of its publication to S3DGA and Meant to be Seen members for free, and will present at the 3D Gaming Summit set for April 21 and 22 at Universal City.

"We have to keep up with the times, and stereoscopic 3-D gaming has a very important present and future,” said Jodi Bluth, Animation Magazine's publisher. “Game developers need a firm grasp of this technology, and this is a great opportunity for them to have a real say in how it moves ahead, "

The Animation Magazine offer is available only through links on and The submission form is accessed after registering and logging in to, S3DGA's consumer outreach division. All registrations are free and instantaneous.

The summit is the first conference that is nearly 100% focused on stereoscopic 3-D gaming, and features top names like NVIDIA, Real D, Panasonic, Jon Peddie Research, The S-3D Gaming Alliance, and more.

Non-profit and non-proprietary, some of The S-3D Gaming Alliance's top members include Blitz Games Studios, LG, Real D, DDD, iZ3D, The Game Creators, HDMI Licensing, and more. Advisory board members include Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research; Neil Trevett, president of the Khronos Group; and Habib Zargarpour, senior art director for Electronic Arts' Need For Speed SHIFT.

More information on the S-3D Gaming Alliance can be found online at Details on the summit are at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Davenport to Run Operations at Method Studios

Michael Davenport, a veteran VFX artist who most recently worked at Image Metrics, has joined Method Studios as VP of operations.

Davenport will be based at Method’s location in Santa Monica, and will be responsible for overseeing the studio’s Los Angeles and New York operations

“There is a lot happening at Method right now, and we are thrilled to have Patrick join our team to help steer new initiatives,” said Gabby Gourrier, senior executive producer at Method. “Having produced visual effects for both commercials and features, Patrick has unique experience and perspective that make him an ideal choice to manage Method’s technical pipeline.”

A native of the United Kingdom, Davenport’s credits include The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at Image Metrics, where he introduced the company’s proprietary performance-driven facial animation. He also was director of digital operations and executive producer of Digital Domain’s commercial division. He began his career with The Moving Picture Co. in London.

“I am incredibly pleased to be joining Method Studios at this point in its evolution,” said Davenport. “Method’s facilities on both coasts house a very robust pipeline and a fantastic team of VFX artists, and with a full slate of upcoming feature and commercial projects, I’m very much looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Globex Opens Los Angeles Studio

A group of leading game makers has teamed up to launch Globex Studios LA, which will be the North American development and project management office for global online games leader Globex Studios.

Globex will start out entering the online gaming markets in the United States and China, creating cost-effective, visually stunning and innovative game titles.

"The ability to innovate and be agile has become essential for creating great games," said Benjamin Chow, chairman and CEO of Globex Studios. "By putting together this highly creative international team, we are bringing together the highly sophisticated gameplay of a western game with the unique social gameplay of a Chinese MMO — effectively delivering engaging game play experiences that reach broad consumer demographics on a global scale. We are excited to be meeting these challenges and experiencing the growth opportunities of the evolving worldwide industry with our talented Globex Studios and now Globex Studios LA teams."

Globex Studios LA collectively boasts prior work on more than 100 console/PC games, including notable Pandemic Studios successes Star Wars Battlefront and the original Mercenaries and Destroy All Humans! games. Key members of the L.A. team include former executive art director of Pandemic Studios Carey Chico as president and chief creative officer; award-winning video game designer, director and producer Troy Dunniway as VP of game development; and game product development and publishing veteran Jesse Taylor as chief technology officer and chief operating officer.

The company is currently working on a development slate of original IP that includes a specific focus on massively multiplayer online role playing games targeting the Chinese market as well as online titles with a global appeal.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Actor and Eighties teen idol Corey Haim dead at 38

Corey Haim, famed for his roles in 1980s movies Lucas and The Lost Boys, died at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, said Los Angeles County coroner's Lt. Cheryl MacWillie. He was 38.

Haim's career was damaged by drug abuse. An autopsy will determine cause of death. There was no evidence of foul play, police Sgt. Michael Kammert said.

"As he got out of bed, he felt a little weak and went down to the floor on his knees," Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said. His mother called paramedics.

Haim had symptoms similar to flu before he died. He was getting prescription and over-the-counter medications, according to police Sgt. William Mann.

"He could have succumbed to whatever (illness) he had, or it could have been drugs. He has had a drug problem in the past."

In Episode 65 (2002) of MTV Animation's Celebrity Deathmatch, a claymation Haim was depicted in a fight-to-the-death battle against fellow teen idol Corey Feldman.

Federated Resources, a 2006 Robot Chicken episode, had both Haim and Feldman guesting as themselves, uniting to rescue the President's daughters. Haim portrayed a teacher and a man as well.

Haim was taken by ambulance to the hospital from a Los Angeles apartment near Burbank. Feldman, his longtime friend, said that he cried when he heard the news.

"This is a tragic loss of a wonderful, beautiful, tormented soul, who will always be my brother, family and best friend. We must all take this as a lesson in how we treat the people we share this world with while they are still here to make a difference," he said in a statement. "I hope the art Corey has left behind will be remembered as the passion of that for which he truly lived."

He was born Corey Ian Haim in Toronto on December 23, 1971. At age 10, he began in TV commercials. He was later well-received for his work in such movies as Murphy's Romance (1985), in which he portrayed Sally Field's pre-teen son, and that year's TV-movie A Time to Live, in which he had the role of Liza Minnelli's dying son.

His work in Lucas (1986) and 1987's The Lost Boys, in which he fought vampires, marked his peak as a teenage heartthrob. The 5'8" actor was nicknamed "Space Ace" and "The Haimster."

But in 1997, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Among his assets were a few thousand dollars in cash, clothing and royalty rights. He cited debts for medical expenses and over $200,000 in state and federal taxes.

In a 2004 interview with the British tabloid The Sun, Haim admitted to fighting drug abuse.

"I was working on Lost Boys when I smoked my first joint. I did cocaine for about a year and a half, then it led to crack," he said.

Haim said that he was put on prescription drugs when he went into rehabilitation, taking sedatives and stimulants: "I started on the downers, which were a hell of a lot better than the uppers because I was a nervous wreck."

In a 2007 interview on CNN's Larry King Live, Haim called himself "a chronic relapser for the rest of my life."

Also that year, he told ABC's Nightline that drugs damaged his career: "I wasn't functional enough to work for anybody, even myself. I wasn't working."

In recent years, he made some TV appearances and was in several direct-to-video movies. He also was in several movies that have not yet been released.

He appeared with Feldman in the A&E reality TV show The Two Coreys, which was canceled in 2008 after two seasons. Later, Feldman said that Haim's drug abuse strained their working and personal relationships.

Whoopie For Toy Story

Pixar has announced yet another voice for their summer release triquel Toy Story 3. Fresh from her day job at ABC's The View, Whoopie Goldberg has voiced a new character- an octopus- named Stretch.

Watch Clips From Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans

The new Comedy Central animated series Ugly Americans is lurching toward your television. The Flash-animated series, which is being produced by Augenblick Studios (Superjail) and Cuppa Coffee, was created by David M. Stern and Devin Clark. The series premieres March 17th at 10:30pm/9:30c, and below are few new clips:

Christ Angel

Fun Bags

Passion Pictures Takes Action for Children

Passion Pictures director Dan Sumich helmed this new PSA for Action for Children, “a source for early learning, parent resources, school readiness, and professional development for the childcare workforce.”

Harvey Kurtzman and Sesame Street

Michael Sporn has posted an amazing article about Harvey Kurtzman’s animated work for Sesame Street. There’s a lot of rare artwork in the piece alongside info on how he collaborated with Phil Kimmelman and Associates to make the cartoons.

In particular what stood out to me is this unbelievable page of animation drawings by Dante Barbetta. Loose, free and funny animation—it’s what shows like Chowder can only dream of being.

Here’s the finished piece:

(Thanks cartoon brew)


Check out this video for musician Sébastien Tellier, directed by French artists Petra Mrzyk & Jean-François Moriceau:

(Thanks, Carlo Guillot)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Green Froggy Watch

Green Froggy is ready to launch on Blu Ray stateside, but it's still moving in foreign venues.

The Princess and the Frog may have slipped out of the top five internationally, but it still added $8.32 million on 3053 screens in 28 markets for a total of $143.18 million. It had no major market openings again this week, but it added $2.84 million on 689 screens over the weekend in France for a total of $27.30 million after a month of release there. This weekend the film debuted in Japan, which could help it return to the top five.

The froggy will pick up additional millions overseas before it hops onto the little silver disk, even though it might not cross the $300 million goal line before migrating to "supplementary markets." But the amphibian will no doubt creep into profits before all the cash streams dry up.

The problem, of course, is that Diz Co. is always looking for big margins rather than small ones. If Tangled overperforms for the conglom in November, there will probably be a more pronounced tilt toward CG animation in Burbank as we move along.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Mid-Week Linkage

A few days into the workweek, a few more links: derides your favorite childhood memories:

It's easy to look back at the past through rose-colored glasses and claim that everything was better when we were kids, but guess what: it wasn't. ... [H]ere's the 20 worst Saturday morning cartoons now! ...

China, it's going to start paying attention to the cartoons.

China should work out a rating system for its animation products "as soon as possible" to protect children from exposure to pornography and excessive sex and violence, a political advisor said here Tuesday. ..

According to a report on China's cultural industry released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences ...
the animation industry has been expanding at a rate of 97 percent in China since 2008.

But it's not just Chinese animation that's growing. Turns out there's also this "internet gaming" thingie.

In its early days in China, online gaming was an industry without a clear regulator. During the prehistoric era of 1992-96 ... the industry attracted little attention; no official government organization was in charge of oversight. The industry also lacked a business model, with no clear way to generate profits ....

GAPP was assigned to be lead regulator for online games in September 2000 by the State Council, which ruled that Internet "information services" were part of the "Internet publishing industry." Since then, applying for a GAPP "Internet publishing permit" has been the first step for any company hoping to operate an online game in China.

And many have taken that step. China's online gaming revenues soared from 1.9 billion yuan in 2003 to 12 billion yuan four years later. Now, online gaming is the place to be for companies seeking huge profits and rapid growth ...

And then there is the next wave of mind-bending entertainment -- home-style Three Dee:

Samsung announced its new lineup of 3D TVs at a gathering of the media in Manhattan this morning. The entry level 46-inch 3D model ... is coming in May for $1,700. Included is a "3D Starter Kit" containing two pairs of 3D glasses, plus a 3D Blu-ray copy of DreamWorks Animation's Monsters vs. Aliens.

Jeffrey Katzenberg: ... The innovation of the experience from flat screen to 3D on these new TVs is exceptional. At a 25% premium, I think consumers are going to see that as a very high value. As always happens, when a new innovation is introduced it starts at a high end. First adopters' will be driven by sports and games. And very quickly you'll see this move to the mass market. If you look at a first year of introduction and the predictions (for five to seven million 3D TV sold this year) -- in an introductory year that is huge ...

The L.A. Times has expanded its story about the Rapunzel/Tangled name change. (We can never get enough, can we?) This graphic is quite inspirational.

(I've long harbored a secret desire for a Seven Dwarfs sequel, with Doc, Bashful, Dopey et al working as a kind of woodland A-Team: "Cover me Grumpy, I'm going in!" But New York Magazine adds a layer of snark about the story and character permutations of Tangled:)

... [F]orgive us for being skeptical of the demand for an homage to Errol Flynn in 2010 ... reports that Priceline has renewed its sponsorship of McFarlane cartoons: has reupped as the presenting sponsor for Seth Macfarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. The Cavalcade is a collection of Web shorts, typically around a minute long, produced by the creative team behind Fox's Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. ...

Lastly. Today is Disney Stockholder Day!

Hundreds of shareholders of The Walt Disney Co. will meet at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa today to elect directors, vote on an expanded stock incentive plan and decide on proposed governance changes. ...

Disney spokesman Jonathan Friedland said the Burbank, Calif.-based company routinely moves its shareholder meetings around to improve communications with stockholders in different areas. He said it's the first time the company is having a shareholder session in San Antonio.

18,000 of Disney's 2.3 million shareholders live within 50 miles of San Antonio, Friedland said. About 580 have requested tickets to the meeting. ...

Enjoy the balance of your work-week.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Chris Evans Joins 'Captain America' Casting Pool, John Krasinski Out Of The Running?

Not so fast, John Krasinski. Reports that "The Office" star is a step removed from wielding the shield in "The First Avenger: Captain America" might not be accurate after all.

According to both The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood, not only is Krasinski not a lock to play Steve Rogers in "Captain America," the actor is out of the running altogether. In fact, according to these sources, the entire initial list of rumored candidates, including "Gossip Girl" star Chace Crawford, is off the table with the exception of Mike Vogel.

The new frontrunners include Vogel, "Tron Legacy" star Garrett Hedlund, "Generation Kill" actor Wilson Bethel and Chris Evans of "The Losers" and "Fantastic Four."

Evans has apparently read for the part of Rogers and has a test offer from Marvel Studios. Hedlund has not tested yet but Marvel is apparently "very keen on him." He is the star of Disney's "Tron Legacy," and given the film's strong buzz and the company's newfound ownership over Marvel, perhaps Hedlund has an inside leg up on the competition.

It's somewhat difficult to fully accept the new list of frontrunners, and not because of any particular grievances against the actors. But the revolving door of "Captain America" casting rumors is moving at such a breakneck pace, causing the landscape to change on a virtually daily basis. Will the role go to Krasinski? Perhaps it's Evans' to lose, instead? For now, who knows — the film is set to start production in June, and assuming things are still on track, we'll at least having a casting announcement before then.

We hope so, at least.

Christopher Nolan Confirms 'Superman' Involvement, David Goyer Writing 'Incredibly Exciting' Screenplay

It looks like Captain America and Spider-Man won't be the only superheroes making headlines this week, as we now have confirmation that "The Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan is indeed shepherding a new Superman movie into development. Nolan's "Batman Begins" story partner David Goyer is currently working on a script for the film, confirming another rumor that made the rounds recently.

“We’re approaching it in a not dissimilar way in terms of trying to find an incredible story in a way that audiences can engage with it the way they engage with contemporary action films,” Nolan told the L.A. Times. "I think David’s approach is a very good way of doing just that."

While Nolan's confirmation comes just shy of a month after DC Entertainment's president told MTV News the company "had no plans" for pairing the "Dark Knight" director with Superman, the celebrated director and his wife, producer Emma Thomas, stopped short of confirming any of the other details surrounding the Man of Steel's return to the big screen — including whether it would indeed be titled "Man of Steel" (as suggested by earlier reports).

“I don’t know where this stuff comes from,” said Thomas when asked about the title and rumors that Superman would battle Lex Luthor and Brainiac in the film.

Nolan also shared some details about howhis involvement with Superman came about — and why Batman's to blame. According to the filmmaker, he and Goyer had hit a roadblock while developing the third Batman movie, and in order to get their minds off the project for a while, they started discussing Superman.

“[Goyer] basically told me, ‘I have this thought about how you would approach Superman,’” said Nolan. “I immediately got it, loved it and thought: That is a way of approaching the story I’ve never seen before that makes it incredibly exciting. I wanted to get Emma and I involved in shepherding the project right away and getting it to the studio and getting it going in an exciting way.”

Still, a few more details about Nolan's take on Superman can be gleaned from the details of the interview, including the likelihood of audiences seeing the hero team up with Batman any time soon.

“A lot of people have approached Superman in a lot of different ways. I only know the way that has worked for us that’s what I know how to do,” he said. “Each serves to the internal logic of the story. They have nothing to do with each other.”

Finally, Nolan indicated that no director has been chosen for the project at this point, despite rumors that his brother Jonathan Nolan would make his debut behind the camera.

'The Hurt Locker' Director Turned Down 'Spider-Man' Reboot

Following her historic win for Best Director and Best Picture for "The Hurt Locker" at last Sunday's Academy Awards, Kathryn Bigelow is reportedly choosing her next project very carefully. However, a recent reports indicates that Bigelow could have directed the upcoming "Spider-Man" reboot for Sony.

According to The L. A. Times, Bigelow was offered the opportunity to direct the new "Spider-Man" film, but she ultimately turned it down. "500 Days of Summer" director Marc Webb went on to get the job, while Bigelow is expected to concentrate on a project called "Triple Frontier" for Paramount.

Jeremy Renner — the star of Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" — also has his own Marvel Comics connection. Late last year, Renner was linked to several rumors that he was in consideration to portray Hawkeye in "Thor" and "The Avengers."

Bigelow's ex-husband — "Avatar" director James Cameron — was also very close to adapting "Spider-Man" for the big screen during the '90s. Given the recent announcement that the new "Spider-Man" movie will be filmed in 3D, Cameron recently spoke with MTV News about what he would like to see in the new film.

"It's not like I want to tell them how to do it, because everybody's going to come up with their own aesthetic," explained Cameron. "It's more like, 'Just don't make the same dumbass mistakes we made for 10 years! Save yourself that.'"

Cameron added "I'd like to see [Webb] reinvent ['Spider-Man'] in the same way 'Batman' got reinvented very successfully. The last two 'Batman' pictures... were spectacular."

'Batman 3' Will End The Story, Says Christopher Nolan

Earlier today, we told you about Christopher Nolan confirming his role in an upcoming Superman movie along with screenwriter David Goyer, but what about that other superhero he's been shepherding for the last few years? Along with offering quite a bit of info regarding the Man of Steel, the "Batman Begins" director also shed some light on the Dark Knight's return to the big screen.

“I’m very excited about the end of the film, the conclusion, and what we’ve done with the characters,” Nolan told The L.A. Times. "My brother has come up with some pretty exciting stuff. Unlike the comics, these things don’t go on forever in film and viewing it as a story with an end is useful. Viewing it as an ending, that sets you very much on the right track about the appropriate conclusion and the essence of what tale we’re telling."

The filmmaker not only confirmed that his brother Jonathan Nolan was hard at work on a script for the third Batman film ("He’s struggling to put it together into the epic story that you want it to be," he said), he also offered up some bites on who will be returning and which villain Batman won't be fighting in the film.

“It won’t be Mr. Freeze," he said, adding that the actors playing key characters in the first films would return for the next — but not going into specifics.

"The key thing that makes the third film a great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story,” he said. "And in viewing it as the finishing of a story rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story."

So, now the question becomes: Will Nolan's third Batman movie be just the end of the story... or the end of the franchise?

Grading The New 'Captain America' Contenders: Chris Evans, Garrett Hedlund And Wilson Bethel

Chris Evans, Garrett Hedlund and Wilson Bethel — if you believe the recent reports, these are the new actors in the lead to play Steve Rogers in "The First Avenger: Captain America," along with the previously mentioned Mike Vogel. In this ever-changing world of "Captain America" casting rumors, it's best to keep your sights set on the most recently announced candidate pool — at least until those actors are replaced by a completely new set of competitors by the end of today, of course.

Still, the fickle nature of the Hollywood beast can't be blamed on the actors reportedly in contention for Cap. If Evans, Hedlund and Bethel really are the newest frontrunners, it's worth wondering what they would bring to the Marvel Studios universe.

Here are our thoughts on these contenders and how well they would work as Captain America.

CHRIS EVANS: His comic book credibility is well intact with roles in "Fantastic Four" and "The Losers," but Evans is best known for his portrayals of wisecracking, sarcastic youths — not exactly Steve Rogers' modus operandi. But anybody that has seen Evans in Danny Boyle's "Sunshine" knows that the actor is capable of an extremely moving and courageous performance in the midst of a claustrophobic and tense atmosphere. Evans as Cap reminds me of Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern, in the sense that it's not a casting decision you immediately think of. Given some thought, however, Evans is not just an interesting choice — he's kind of a perfect fit.

GARRETT HEDLUND: Currently best known as the ill-fated Patroclus in "Troy," Hedlund is about to burst onto the scene as Sam Flynn in "Tron Legacy." The film's trailer (which just went wide this week) offers the best and most recent glimpse at what Hedlund could bring to the table as Rogers. Judging on that footage alone, I think that Hedlund has the right action sensibilities and leading man presence necessary for Cap. With his star about to burst with "Tron Legacy," Hedlund could be the best choice of the bunch.

WILSON BETHEL: With credits on "The Young and the Restless" and "The O.C." to his name, Bethel seemingly has Chace Crawford's resume and Michael Cassidy's physique. But he was also on "Generation Kill" as Corporal Evan "Q-Tip" Stafford, which means the actor has some serious combat training under his belt — definitely a plus given that "Captain America" is only a few short months from production. Still, as Bethel is such an unknown quantity, I might feel more comfortable with a better known face like Evans or Hedlund as Rogers.

Jesse Ventura spills about the Wachowskis' secret sci-fi film

You may recall the weird news that pundit Arianna Huffington posted that she appeared in a top-secret futuristic sci-fi war movie being shot by the Wachowski brothers (of Matrix fame). Well, now comes news that former Minnesota governor and Predator star Jesse Ventura may have shot something as well.

Slashfilm reports:

Appearing on Tuesday's episode of the Howard Stern Show on Sirius/XM Satellite radio, the professional wrestler turned actor turned governor Jesse Ventura dropped word that he just got done filming a movie for the Wachowskis. When asked if he missed acting and would ever consider returning to the big screen, Ventura dropped the bomb shell:

"I just did one with the Wachowski brothers..."

Ventura explained that he didn't know where this film is gonna end up, to which Stern asked "What is the film?" Ventura responded: "I don't know..." Ventura revealed that they didn't have a script, and the whole thing was done ad-lib/improv.

"Wait til you hear what they did. They brought me, and they brought Arianna Huffington in after me. Arianna was there, and they had her looking like cleopatra. What they did ... Do you remember what John Travolta looked like in that horrible film Battlefield Earth? They put multicolored dreadlocks on me all the way to here. They gave me this crazy beard that was hanging down pointed, looked like Travolta, right? And they put a third eye in the middle of my forehead. Because what this is, is this is a hundred years in the future, and they wanted me to talk about the current war in Iraq and how I felt about it. And so I got to vent, looking like this maniac in this whole outfit."

Ventura said he didn't know what he was doing or what the movie is beyond that.

Weird, huh? Stay tuned for more ...

Buffy's 13 yesterday: Watch the rare pre-debut teaser trailer

Has it really been 13 years to the day since Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on The WB? Seems like yesterday, and yet Mar. 10, 1997, was so long ago I didn't even remember (don't hate me now) that the series launched as a midseason replacement!

If you were there from the very beginning, you first met Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy Summers not in the show's first episode, but in a teaser trailer that's only aired twice.

Check out the promo below to see how the world first met the Slayer—though the embedded clip is missing the warning that "The following two-hour world premiere is rated TV-PG and contains action scenes which may be too intense for younger viewers."

For the complete trailer, and more info on its history, visit TV Obscurities.

Monkeys fly out of our butts: Wizard of Oz to be remade

In the spotty history of movie remakes, this may be the worst idea ever: a remake of the all-time classic fantasy film The Wizard of Oz.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Warner Brothers is mulling two possible Oz films:

One project, called "Oz," currently lives at Warner's New Line label. It's being produced by Temple Hill, which is behind a little franchise called "Twilight," and has a script written by Darren Lemke, a writer on the upcoming "Shrek Forever After."

A second
"Wizard of Oz" project, set up at Warners proper, skews a little darker —it's written by "A History of Violence" screenwriter Josh Olson and focuses on a granddaughter of Dorothy who returns to Oz to fight evil.

The second idea sounds a lot like Tim Burton's current Disney hit, Alice in Wonderland. But the guy who wrote David Cronenberg's violent, dark rumination on America??

In the history of Oz follow-ups, almost no one remembers 1974's Journey Back to Oz or 1985's Return to Oz, with good reason, though the latter has its fans. The musical and movie The Wiz also has boosters, but about the only widely popular follow-up to the original was the hit musical Wicked, based on the best-selling book by Gregory Maguire. (We're also partial to Syfy's miniseries Tin Man, but that's us.)

So we're inclined to say: Let's just watch our new Blu-ray of the original 1939 movie and leave it at that, OK? You agree?

EXCLUSIVE: New 'Kick-Ass' Poster And SXSW Panel Announcement!

Back in January, we brought you the news that "Kick-Ass" will open this year's South By Southwest Film Festival, offering attendees the chance to screen the film well ahead of its April 16 release. Well, there's more to the story, folks.

While your friendly neighborhood Splash Page editor won't be making the trip to Austin this year, MTV Movies editor Joshua Horowitz is — and along with providing comprehensive coverage of the festival all week, he'll host the official "Kick-Ass" panel on Saturday, featuring the cast and creators of the film! Director Matthew Vaughn will be joined by "Kick-Ass" comic creators Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., as well as stars Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Chloe Moretz. So expect to see lots of "Kick-Ass" coverage throughout the show!

But that's not all — we also have your first look at three new "Kick-Ass" posters that will debut at the festival.

These limited-edition "Kick-Ass" posters will only be available during signings at the show, but we're psyched to give you an early peek at 'em here on Splash Page — just in case you won't be able to make it out there. We'll be rolling out one more poster each of the next two days as we get closer to the "Kick-Ass" premiere at SXSW, so check back tomorrow and Friday for more "Kick-Ass" exclusives.

And if you are in town for the show, remember to check out the "Kick-Ass" panel at SXSW this Saturday, March 13, at 11:00 AM!

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