Tuesday, April 20, 2010

News - 04/20/10... Post # 500!

Disney Legend Floyd Norman writes (and talks) about his Animated Life

What was it like to work at the Walt Disney Studio in the nineteen fifties, be in the apprenticeship program with the Nine Old Men, and maybe even attend story meetings with the Old Maestro himself?

Disney animator, artist, storyman and Disney Legend Floyd Norman spent nearly fifty years in Walt’s magic factory helping create a fair amount of that magic himself. From February 1956 to August 2000, he worked through three managements, and alongside a host of talented writers, artists, entertainers and craftsmen to help create the Disney legacy.

In his fantastic new book, My Animated Life, recently published by Blurb, Floyd collected dozens of animated stories, sharing his experiences from Sleeping Beauty to Toy Story 2, and guides us throughout the Disney and Pixar studios for a one-of-a-kind tour…

Animated Views: How did you come to the idea of writing this book?

Floyd Norman:
That’s a long story, but I guess it begins with my speaking with the Disney old timers. I always wanted these great old guys to write a book. Not some intellectual tome, but simply stories about what it was like working at Disney in those remarkable early days at the studio. When I was a young kid I loved hearing those stories, and I knew that once these guys were gone, those wonderful stories would be lost forever. Sadly, few of the old guys ever got around to writing anything, and a huge chunk of Disney history was lost forever.

AV: Your career is rich of many different experiences, in animation at Disney, but also at other studios, and also in the field of publishing. Why did you choose to focus on your experience with Disney animation?

First of all, I love Disney animation, but I also grew up on Disney comics. You can imagine how thrilled I was to be able to do both. Writing comics is a lot more fun. The story is yours and yours alone. When you write a movie, you’re often working with an army. Of course, a lot of good stuff can come out of a story team working together, but it can also be a headache of opinion and egos. With a few remarkable exceptions, my story work on feature films has usually been painful. However, when the process works, it works extremely well.

I also enjoyed working at other studios especially the smaller ones. This is where you do unique little jobs for education and television. Sesame Street animation came out of Pantomime Pictures back in the sixties. I loved animating that stuff. It was so creative and free. It was a studio totally free from foolish, meddling, no nothing executives screwing things up. I worked with an animation master named, Fred Crippen. Not as well known as the Nine Old Men, he remains one of my animation heroes.

AV: Do you envision writing other books on your other experiences?

Sure, why not. I guess I’ll keep writing because I’ve nothing else to do. I remember Disney old guys retiring and supposedly going home to write. But none of them ever wrote a darn thing. For some odd reason, people who say they’re going to write, never seem to get around to doing it. Well, I’m going to write. I don’t know if anybody will bother reading it – but I’m going to write anyway. They’ll never be able to say, “Floyd never wrote anything.” This cranky old man still has many stories to tell.

AV: Can you tell me about the process of writing and editing and then publishing this book?

Writing this book was an experiment, really. I had never published a book through this online process. Plus, because I wasn’t dealing with a mainstream publisher, I had total editorial and artistic control over my book. Of course, the downside remains, it’s difficult to market a product that’s not in the mainstream.

So much of the material was already there. I already had a pile of photographs I had taken during my years at Disney and Pixar. I didn’t have to interview anyone because I wrote directly from my memories at the studios. I never requested any studio support because, frankly, I didn’t need their support. Plus, studios always have an agenda. All they care about is making themselves look good. Major studios don’t really care about anything insightful. Mainly, they simply want to protect themselves. It’s the corporate beast at its worst.

AV: I love the tone of the book. Very friendly, just as if you’d take our hands and be our guide for a one of a kind tour.

I think a book should welcome the reader. After all, we’re going to share something special. My first visit to the Walt Disney Studio was magical. I wanted readers of my book to experience a bit of the magic I felt when I first entered the gates over fifty years ago. Plus, I’ve adopted a conversational style that feels right to me. I hope readers respond to that.

AV: Your description of Walt Disney is somehow different from what we are used to read here and there. You mention him as being “self deprecating” and not as the stressed, and ill-tempered person he’s often described. Can you tell me more about YOUR Walt Disney?

I enjoyed drawing cartoons about Walt Disney and I often portrayed him as this gruff, grumpy, old man stomping down the hallway as people scurried about in fear. That was my cartoon Walt Disney. In reality, Walt Disney was the nicest man I ever had the pleasure of meeting and working for. Not without faults, Walt was not a perfect man and he, like the rest of us could never be called perfect. However, Disney was an incredible leader who inspired everyone on his staff. It’s no wonder staffers were overcome with grief at his passing back in 1966. When we lost The Old Maestro It was as if the world had suddenly stopped. It was the end of an era at the Walt Disney Studio, and maybe even for the world.

A person once told me that he felt sorry for Walt Disney because the Old Maestro must have had the weight of the world on his shoulders running the company. This person couldn’t have been more wrong. Working animated Walt Disney. It was what he lived for. Walt took extreme delight in what he did and couldn’t get enough of it. Some might call Disney a workaholic who simply couldn’t stay away from the studio. However, the studio was his life, and he relished every moment he was on the job. Should you ask, who was the happiest worker at the Disney studio the answer would be easy. It was Walt Disney.

AV: My favorite animated film of the post-Walt era is The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which you describe as the most sophisticated animated film you’ve worked on. Can you tell me more about it?

When I first heard that Disney was thinking about making the Victor Hugo novel I thought, this has got to be the craziest thing I had ever heard. I also thought, I’ve got to work on this film.

Bold decisions is what separates the men from the boys, in my opinion. If a studio is to remain creative and vibrant, they’ve got to push the boundaries. they’ve got to go out on a limb or jump off the cliff. Doing The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a daring move by any stretch, and it shows the confidence that Disney had in its animation staff in the nineties. The creative team was fearless, and you have to be fearless if you’re to remain creative.

Now, it’s true that once in production, the film makers were encouraged by management to “tone things down”. Victor Hugo’s novel dealt with some pretty heavy themes, and Disney wanted to have it both ways. A bold, daring, provocative motion picture that would entertain the kiddies. Disney’s marketing campaign for the movie was themed “Join the Party”. The choice was not only disingenuous, it was just plain silly.

However, the songs by Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken were inspired, and the musical score is a triumph. Of course, the powerful themes resonate throughout the story. The “ugly people” we often fear. The “despised minority” we don’t want entering our space. And finally, the corrupt leaders who feel they are doing God’s will. Powerful stuff for a Disney movie. If only the studio hadn’t wimped out and watered things down for the sake of commerce. This motion picture could have changed animation forever. Instead it simply shows when all is said and done, the Disney Company simply wants to make money.

AV: You wrote you loved working on Toy Story 2. To you as a Disney storyman, what makes this story so good?

A great film story grabs me right away. When producer, Ralph Guggenheim brought this film idea down to Disney in late 1996, I knew I had to work on this movie. most sequels are simply contrived to make an easy buck. This was truly a great story. The story beats were solid. Woody is kidnapped. The toys have to rescue him, and when they finally do – he doesn’t want to be rescued. An inspired, unexpected twist.

However, what makes any story sparkle is how it’s told, and the Pixar storytellers are the best. I’ve often read that our film was a wreck, and had to be saved at the last minute. I totally disagree with those opinions. While it’s true there were problems, I always knew the problems could be fixed, and even had a late night meeting with Pixar story ace, Joe Ranft. I knew no one would listen to me, but Joe Ranft already had a reputation as a story guru. I knew Joe was the “secret weapon” that would push the film over the top. Once Joe Ranft, Pete Docter and Andrew Stanton came on board, Toy Story 2 was destined to become a masterpiece.

AV: What do you expect from Toy Story 3?

I expect Toy Story 3 to be the perfect wrap up for this wonderful series. I’ve seen much of the film, including story reels and stuff. The film is darn good, and I’m sure audiences will love it. One thing is missing, however, and can never be replaced. We lost the great Joe Ranft before the film began production. How do you replace Joe Ranft? The sad answer is, you can’t.

AV: You wrote about the importance of the voices to help create the story (with Sterling Holloway or Jodie Benson). Can you tell me about how a voice artist can help you shape a story?

You’ve given me two different worlds. Sterling Holloway doing voice work on The Jungle Book, and Jodie Benson voicing Barbie in Toy Story 2. Luckily, I was on hand for both recording sessions. We recorded Sterling Holloway back in 1966 in the large Studio A, and we recorded Jodie Benson in late summer 1998 in Studio B on the Disney studio lot. I love great voice actors, and by that I mean people who can give a great performance with their voice alone. You’d be surprised how many movie actors cannot act. I know. I’ve heard their auditions, and you’ve probably seen their movies.

In the old days, Walt Disney found many of his great voice actors on the radio. Some of the finest Disney voice people never had a highly visible screen career. Their voice was the perfect instrument. I miss the old codgers who cut their acting teeth in the radio business. When you’ve got a master in the recording booth, you can almost see the scene come alive in your head. They truly inspire the film makers. Those old pros were simply wonderful, and I would choose them over a big shot Hollywood star any day.

AV: How do you feel regarding Disney’s latest animated productions like Princess and the Frog? Do you see it as a new start?

I don’t regard the film as a “new start”. After all, animation never really ended. A few bone headed executives made stupid decisions, but Disney animation never died. Maybe the careers of the executives died, and rightly so.

No, Disney finally produced another remarkable traditional, hand drawn animated film. And, it’s a darn good one. The more I watch the film the more I like it. The cartoon geeks said this film would have to be a masterpiece in order to save Disney animation. Well, Disney animation doesn’t need saving. It’s here, it’s always been here, and it’ll always be here. Whether Disney wants to support animation, is a corporate choice. Even if the big corporation dies – Disney will live on. Art has a way of doing that.

A story team working on Toy Story 2 at Pixar

AV: In your book, you wrote that Monsters, Inc was an “opportunity to put more Disney-like entertainment on the screen, even if it didn’t come from Disney”. To you, what is “Disney-like” entertainment?

That’s easy. Films that have warmth, humor and charm. When you create characters that are real you let people fall in love with them. Not only that, people will continue to love them for a lifetime. This is an amazing gift that you give it to the kids. A gift that you give it to the world. Walt understood that, and he taught it to his “boys”. The “old boys” taught it to the new generation of kids that would eventually run Pixar Animation Studios. And people wonder why Pixar’s films are so good?

AV: During Walt’s time, Disney artists were staff artists. Now, they come from everywhere, from different studios and very different kind of productions. Because of that, do you feel it more difficult to maintain the Disney style? How do you help Disney remain Disney?

Of course, even in the old days artists came from everywhere. What mattered was whether the artists were a “good fit” for Disney. If you worked for Walt, that meant doing things his way. If an artist was an individualist, then he or she had better move on. You were creating Walt’s product not your own. We all know that Walt Disney created an amazing in house staff as far back as the thirties. Disney knew how to bring creative people together and get the best out of them. He was the conductor, the maestro.

However, I’ve no problem with artists new to Disney joining the team. When we made The Hunchback of Notre Dame back in the nineties, many of our artists came from Europe, the UK and Canada because Disney was growing short on personnel. Adding staff from outside the studio can actually be an asset. These non-Disney artists often bring a fresh and unique approach. These ideas can be good for the production. Disney will have no problem remaining Disney as long as the leadership of the company not lose sight of the legacy Walt built.

AV: Retirement doesn’t sound like it is part of your vocabulary! So, what are your projects?

I would love to continue making films, but filmmaking is an expensive enterprise and not something one can do out of their own pocket. Well, actually you can with today’s amazing technology. However, I’ve already done the independent filmmaking thing when I was a young man, and I don’t care to go through that again. I still love film making of course. It’s just that I don’t want to work that hard.

As I said earlier, I was totally bummed out that the old guys I so admired never got around to writing their books. I would have loved a book from Ward Kimball or Carl Fallberg. Boy, the stories these guys could tell. I’m not going to let that happen on my watch. While I’m nowhere near their legendary status, I will continue to tell the wonderful Disney stories that have excited and inspired me.

Plus, I’ll be keeping my eye on technology. Who knows what new device could come along? What platforms might afford animation a brand new home. You can bet Walt Disney would be excited about innovation were he around today.

Finally, it wouldn’t surprise me to think of Walt Disney and Apple’s Steve Jobs sitting around and planning some awesome new project that would – dare I say it – change the world.

Floyd Norman’s My Animated Life is available to order now by clicking here

(Thanks Animated Views)

ELAN Drops Entry Fee

The 2010 ELAN Awards announced today that they will be eliminating submission fees in order to assist Publishers and Developers from all markets to participate in July's big awards show being held in San Diego. The entry deadline has also been extended to Friday, May 14.

According to the ELAN Awards' founder Holly Carinci, "As this is the first year the ELAN Awards will be held in the United States, we really want a large, international selection of titles for our judges. Eliminating submission fees will allow a larger and more diverse field of entries."

The 4th Annual ELAN Awards will make its American debut on Monday, July 19th in San Diego. Thirty ELAN statuettes will be handed out during the black-tie dinner awards ceremony being held in the stunning Elizabeth Ballroom at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

Animation Tag Attack

Animation Tag Attack is an ‘exquisite corpse’ animated short being made by artists from around the globe. Thus far, artists from Denmark, New Zealand and Israel have contributed. Each artist is allotted one month to complete their portion of the film, and sequences are posted online as soon as they’re completed.

I’m not familiar with any of the animators who are participating, but the work they’re turning out is remarkably fresh and sophisticated. Here are the four sequences that have been completed to date:

(Thanks, DeK)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

An Earlier Look At Gatchaman Trailer

Before any Gatchaman fans raise their hopes up on assuming its a brand new trailer from Imagi, the animation studio barely surviving on life support, I should clearly point out that its infact an old trailer that fit the description from someone who saw it at the HK Filmart way back in 2007. At the time, TMNT director Kevin Munroe and Emmy-winning writer Paul Dini were onboard before dropping out due to some creative differences. I first questioned myself if this is news worthy enough to post here since its outdated but I then figured why not, maybe some people would like to see it for curiosity sake. Notice the character design from the trailer matches the artwork from a sales flyer, yet its different from the most recent Joe Asakura poster (see picture to the left) and the few shots from the rough cut promo shown at the Anime Expo 2009, favoring a more Alex Ross sort of realistic aesthetics rather than a cartoony style. For those interested to see more pre-production material - concept art, storyboards, model sheets, etc -, there are several pictures lurking here and here from an auction site.

With the L.A. studio branch liquidated and the massive animation team layoff, it seems Gatchaman is pretty much dead in the water unless Imagi somehow managed to miraculously pull themselves together. There is a small measure of hope since the official Imagi site remains active which indicate the main headquarters in Hong Kong is still operational but I wouldn't hold my breath. You'll find the trailer embedded below.

(Thanks Twitch)

Ghibli Museum Visitors Only?

Next month Studio Ghibli will be opening a new exhibition called Ghibli no Mori no Eiga - Yokoso Dosei-Za he at Ghibli Museum. Roughly translated as The Movies of Ghibli Forest - Welcome to the Saturn Theater, their special will zoom in on all the shorts the famed animation studio has produced for their own little museum in Mitaka, one of Tokyo's more outer cities. It is the last part of that sentence should not be missed, as the only way to experience these little pieces of animation is really to visit the museum's cinema. They are true exclusives: no wide cinematic release and no DVD or Blu-ray. Nada, niente, nothing.

Because of that "ten" (Japanese for exhibition), this week's ToM is zooming on in our favorite Ghibli Museum shorts. Before heading on to the usual ToM Top 5 though, an additional tip to our readers. Those real fond of animation might want to plan a new trip to Japan. Two new shorts will be released later this year; one rumored to be by the hands of maestro Miyazaki and the other one rumored to be by the studio's newbie animators at Nishi Ghibli (= West Ghibli, the studio's new department / school at Toyota HQ).

1. "Hoshi wo Katta Hi", a.k.a. "The Day I Harvested a Star"
Hoshi wo Katta Hi, also known as The Day I Harvested a Star, is a lovely animation and... it comes with a superb soundtrack by Hisaishi Joe. As a personal favorite, this work started screening in January of 2006. Direction wasn't done by Miyazaki Hayao, but by Ai Kagawa, who also was key animator on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Only Yesterday, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Howl's Moving Castle and was main animation director under Miyazaki for "Porco Rosso". When watching Hoshi wo Katta Hi you'll probably be familiar with some of the things that appear in it. That is because it shows the visionary world according to artist Naohisa Inoue's original work Iblard. Inoue is the artist who painted the backgrounds in the fantasy scenes of Kondou Yoshifumi's Mimi wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart)

2. "Yadosagashi", a.k.a. "House Hunting"
This Ghibli short is about a girl who goes on a trip to look for a new house. Where it receives two thumbs up is for its (for Ghibli) experimental execution. Rich Japanese expressions such as "zah" and "zo zo zo" were used to visualize the sounds and atmosphere by animating them on screen as well. Really funny and witty. Like Miyazaki once noted about this piece "All the sound effects and incidental "music" were performed vocally by TV personality Tamori and pianist, singer and composer Akiko Yano. We can't do this sort of thing in a typical film for the cinema. Filmmaking these days is so restricted by conventions and rules. The sound effects, incidental music and dialogue are all done separately, and mixed and digitally processed later... For this reason, I wanted to give the work a live feel by requesting the two performers (Tamori and Yano) to produce oral sound effects, for example, the "zah" sound... recording the sounds in one take. I was really surprised by the talent shown by the two performers."

3. "Mei to Konekobasu", a.k.a. "Mei and the Kittenbus"
Luckily, Studio Ghibli isn't particularly your sequel plant. Indeed, Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns are very loosely connected. And then there's the closest thing you'll ever come to a Ghibli sequel: Mei to Konekobasu. But that truly is all of it.

Mei to Konekobasu's original story, screenplay and direction were done by Miyazaki Hayao. Its soundtrack came from the musical mastermind of Hisaishi Joe who composed two new pieces for this short. Furthermore, animation direction was handled by Maikiko Futaki, Sachiko Sugino and Hiromasa Yonebayashi. The last one of that trio deserves a special mention as Yonebayashi is to make his directing debut with Ghibli's latest full length feature Karigurashi no Arrietty which is to be released this summer.

Storywise this short is very simple, but the animation is breathtaking. What particularly comes to mind is one of the first scenes during which Mei becomes friends with the baby cat bus by offering it a caramel. The animation of the little baby catbus going beserk while being trapped in Mei's room and enjoying Mei's treat is definitely a highlight. Later on the two go off to the forest at night where spooky ghosts gather and many mysterious creatures appear in the world where Totoro and the catbus live. Worth noting is that Hayao Miyazaki did one of the voices during that scene (guess who? > check the picture).

4. "Mizugumo Monmon", a.k.a. "Monmon the Water Spider"
Some of the trials Studio Ghibli had during the production of their museum shorts made it possible for them to make Ponyo without CG. Koro no Daisanpo brought it the picture book style backgrounds (the warm and nostalgic style painted by Yoshida Noboru was first accepted in that movie). Yadosagashi gave it the typical depiction of trees, grasses and winds which were drawn using Sakuga. Hoshi wo Katta Hi gave them its three-dimensional depiction without using CG mapping. And what about Mizugumo Monmon? That short gave Ponyo something unmissable: its detailed depiction of water.

The story basically is a love adventure of a water spider who drags a bubble of air underwater to make a nest and then meets a water spider. It beautifully portrays life in the pond in which they live such as enormous crawfish, fish and small water flea and these lovely images are backed up with a nice happy, folkloristic sounding soundtrack using lots of violins.

The studio used 30,000 cels to make Mizugumo Monmon. The amount of cels is of such a high quantity, because it took a lot of cels to depict bubbles and the rippling of water. It is something that was also reflected in the costs of this production. Making short films is definitely not commercial, but that's where Ghibli Museum comes in handy, as "There we don't need to worry about the commercial aspect of a film. You can't expect to have a more enjoyable job than that".

5. "Chuu-Zumo", a.k.a. "A Sumo Wrestler's Tail"
Released this January, this short is Studio Ghibli's latest addition to their collection of museum shorts. Its scenario was made by Miyazaki, but direction and e-konte (storyboarding) were done by Yamashita Akihiko, added with art direction by Tanaka Naoya and music by Watanobe Manto. Based on a Japanese traditional tale, this short has a simple, but very enjoying story about some mice that practice the art of Sumo. Director Yamashita Akihiko made it with the hope of everyone tasting the enjoyment of animation without considering any form of logic. During production of his directing debut he had a tough time when animating a group of mice. They rush up to the dish the old man and his wife made, but Miyazaki pointed him out that "You must change your understanding about these mice. You should think them as decent samurai." The result is a humorous and cheerful short.

All in all, this ToM wasn't much of an in-depth analysis of the Ghibli shorts. That's not what this is about, as it would just spoil the fun. These little great pieces of animation are more about the experience, creativity, mood and atmosphere, so forget about mind blowing storylines and engaging character development. All young and old will certainly enjoy sitting front row in Ghibli Museum's Saturn Theater.

(Thanks Twitch)

First Footage From Ari Folman's The Congress!

Director Ari Folman set the animation world on its ear a couple years back with his stunning Waltz With Bashir, the animated documentary based on his recollections of the war in Lebanon. And while Waltz certainly triggered some debate as to historical accuracy - perfectly natural given the film's central concept - there was no doubt at all that Folman was a simply enormous talent as an animator and director.

Folman's new project - a loose adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's The Futurological Congress - is greatly anticipated but information has been slow to come out. We know it stars Robin Wright as Robin Wright and that it will begin in live action before shifting gradually into Folman's signature animated style. But what else will he do to Lem's story in the process of bringing it to the screen?

Well, see for yourself. The first footage has arrived online. The quality isn't the best but this is certainly one hell of a tease.

(Thanks Twitch)

New Star Wars TV toon may feature Luke, Han and Leia!

When last we checked, George Lucas was saying his proposed live-action Star Wars TV show would not include any characters from the original trilogy of films.

But what about the comedic animated TV series he's also contemplating?

You may see what happened to Luke, Han and Leia after Return of the Jedi. At least that was the hint offered by Lucasfilm's Steve Sansweet, director of fan relations, at a convention over the weekend, according to Collider.com:

During a Q&A session at C2E2 on Saturday Steve Sansweet, LucasFilm's Director of Fan Relations, revealed that this new animated series would feature the post-Return of the Jedi adventures of the original characters. It happened when a fan asked, "I would really love to see new adventures after Jedi with our favorite characters Luke, Han and Leia," to which Sansweet replied, "And you will, in the new animation." (via IGN)

This is news which will probably make many fans glad and many other fans quite worried. Given what Lucas did to Obi-Wan, R2-D2, C-3PO and Yoda in the the prequels, I wish that he would just leave Luke, Han and Leia alone.

But after the Q&A, in an interview with ForceCast, Sansweet seemed to backtrack and insisted that he was "in the dark" and did not know exactly what would the new series would be about. He said that it could possibly feature
"characters from the original trilogy, the prequels [or] new characters," but that it will most likely be a mix of all of the above.

So which is it? I guess we'll have to stay tuned to find out!!

Meanwhile, Sansweet revealed that the long-awaited Blu-ray versions of the Star Wars films were in the works, according to IGN:

"We have been at work for a couple of years working on—I won't call it the Ultimate Set because we keep finding stuff—but, a very full set of all six movies on Blu-ray with lots of extra material. We're finding all kinds of scenes from dailies that have never been seen before. Beyond all of those things that you know about ... there are some real treasures."

When will the set come out? Sansweet says,
"We're not ready to announce exactly when it's coming out, but it won't be in the too distant future."

The Avengers Animated Lineup Revealed

Joe Quesada along with Marvel Animation's Director of Development Josh Fine, presented fans with news on Marvel's upcoming animated projects at C232 in Chicago on Saturday.

At C232 in Chicago on Saturday, Josh Fine Marvel Animation's Director of Development and Joe Quesada answered questions pertaining to Marvels upcoming animated projects. The subject of "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" quickly came up and the two revealed the line up.

The roster will include Iron Man as team leader, Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, Hulk and Black Panther. Characters like Black Widow and Hawkeye will appear occasionally throughout the series. Loki, Kang the Conquerer, Ultron and the Red Skull will be appearing as villains.

Fine said ""This is bigger than anything we've ever done. This is the classic Avengers show you've been waiting for all your life."

Quesada had this to add "What's really exciting is that you'll be seeing stories that were developed within the last ten years of Marvel, so you'll see some familiar stories you've never seen animated before. The first two seasons are absolutely dynamite."

"The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" is set to debut in the fall.

(Thanks comic book movie)

"Gurren Lagann" Movies Coming to North America in July

Gurren Lagann the Movie – Childhood's End - and Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky Are Stars -, two feature length films based on the mecha anime series Gurren Lagann, are coming to the U.S. and Canada on July 1st and 30th, respectively. The release for both movies is being handled by Aniplex, though Bandai Entertainment is also offering them exclusively at their online store. They will also be available to purchase at Anime Expo in Los Angeles from July 1-4.

The DVDs will only feature Japanese language with English subtitles. They will come in both regular and limited editions, the latter of which will include a bonus disc and a 32-page reproduction of the movie program from Japanese theaters, and special edition postcards. Both limited edition DVDs will include four "Parallel Works" music videos as well.

Member Issues

Recent quotes from longtime TAG folks. (You hang out here much, you'll find them vaguely familiar) ....

Unpaid Overtime

"I worked at Klasky-Csupo years ago, and the overtime, unpaid, was brutal. I finally couldn't take it anymore and left. The union studio I'm at now doesn't like to pay o.t. either. The intimidation is intense. They've got ridiculous schedules and get on you if you don't hit them. Lots of people just stay as long as they have to. Nobody kibitzes, nobody takes breaks, there's no time ..."

This is a constant in the time I've been here. Some productions have "doable" production schedules and some not, but short schedules usually create pressure to "get it done on time" with the proviso: "We don't have any money in the budget for overtime!" (Like this is the artists' problem?)

TAG stands ready to file grievances over unpaid overtime. Many studios have coded cards to enter studio premises, so employers know exactly when employees are in the studio and when not.

Less Work Around Town

"I'm picking up less freelance and longer term in-studio gigs seem few and far between ..."

Television production work -- which is what the member above talks about -- has picked up a bit from levels of a year or two ago, but it's down from the levels seen in the 1990s and early 2000s when licensing fees were higher and syndicated animation blocks were a significant part of the television landscape. Now it's mostly cable ... cable .... cable.

This graph shows overall employment from 2007 through to this January:

This pie graph shows the distribution of employment as of today [numbers of people working are in square brackets] ...

The same chart for September 2009:

...And for August 2008:

The Motion Picture Industry Health Insurance

"Last summer I was getting more things paid for when I went to the doctor. Prescription drugs are now more expensive. An older co-worker who's retired isn't getting the same retiree health benefits he used to ..."

The reason these things have happened since August 1, 2009? The Plan re-design kicked in on that date, and Motion Picture Health coverage is now less generous.

For example, formerly fully-paid visits to the Motion Picture Television Fund clinics are now $5 a pop. Hospital stays that used to be 100% covered in the Blue Shield network are now 90% covered with a maximum out of pocket of $1000 (before August 1 it was $800.) Many medical costs that Medicare doesn't cover for retirees are no long being picked up by the Motion Picture Retiree Health Plan. (And retirees aren't happy about this.)

The Plan re-design was necessary because the Plan's health costs have risen 9.5% a year. Though cash in-flows have been going up, they haven't gone up enough to cover higher expenses.

But here's at least a partial remedy if you need to keep costs down:

Motion Picture Television Fund Health Center Locations

Bob Hope Health Center -- 335 N. La Brea Ave., L.A. 90036 -- (323) 634-3850.
Glendale Health Center -- 800 S. Central Ave. #305 -- Glendale, CA 91204 -- (818) 876-4790
Jack H. Skirball Health Center -- 23388 Mulholland Drive, Woodland Hills, CA 91364 -- (818) 876-1050
North Valley Health Center -- 11550 Indian Hills Road #200, Mission Hill, CA 91345 -- (818) 876-4770
Santa Clarita Health Center -- 25751 McBean Parkway #210, Valencia, CA 91355 -- (661) 284-3100
Toluca Lake Health Center -- 4323 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91501 -- (818) 556-2700
Westside Health Center -- 1950 Sawtelle Blvd. #130, Los Angeles, CA 90025 -- 310 996-9355

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Weekend Links of Toonage

DWA will convert old titles into stereo-viewing experiences:

The first three Shrek films are to be converted into 3D, Dreamworks studio has announced.

Ahead of the release of the fourth film in the series,
Shrek Forever After, the studio said it was converting the first three for a 3D Blu-ray release.

"Our movies exist in digital files to begin with," [Jeffrey Katzenberg] told the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention. "To go back and rebuild to a quality 3D experience is not inexpensive, but we are about to achieve a pretty high quality result." ...

Three Dee is one thing, but Shrek's publicity turns out to be too risque for his home studio.

Dreamworks ... is having serious regrets about giving fashion magazine VMan permission to shoot the hit film’s characters alongside scantily clad hipster models. Surprisingly, they’re more upset about the “scantily clad” part than the “hipster” part.

But wait. What happened to "There's no bad publicity ..."??

In older news, Mr. Foxx enters AnimationLand:

Jamie Foxx is taking his first steps into the world of animation - the Oscar-winner has been given the go ahead for his latest project Welcome To The Jungle ...

Pixar is mid-point in putting up a big, new building.

The animated filmmaker is about half-way done building a $64 million, 150,000-square-foot structure on its 21-acre campus in Emeryville. ... The company ... has some employees in leased space in Emeryville ...

Finally, Mr. Kennedy's third installment of "Kick in the Head" (via Temple of the Seven Golden Camels.)

Ollie Johnston said "Draw clear, not clean". When a drawing isn't working it's always tempting to clean it up in an attempt to "fix it" when, really, you know that the drawing is flawed and you should just start over.

If a drawing is rough but the pose and expression reads clearly, then it's a successful drawing. A clean drawing that doesn't read isn't worth all that much, like a car that looks great on the outside but has no engine or working parts ...

And good luck to youwith the workweek ahead.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Boing Boing Interviews South Park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker

To help celebrate the 200th episode of South Park (last week’s 200), Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin swooped in on South Park Studios to interview the series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. In both the episode and this interview we learn that while Muhammad’s image is censored, he appeared in a 2001 episode without a fuss. As you may remember, inbetween these two shows, something happened – the Danish cartoon controversy.

Anyway, have a watch and learn why “South Park matters.”

Rebolucion’s Snowman Spot Will Melt Your Heart

Do you think this spot would ever air in the US? I think it’s too sad and meaningful for the US market, but maybe I’m wrong. Either way, it’s a wondefully produced stop-motion ad for Magistral Dishwashing soap that is airing in Argentina. The spot, titled Snowman, was directed by Andres Salmoyragui at Rebolucion.

Tee Up Aardman’s Latest Spot for Hotels.com

The latest stop-motion TV spot for Hotels.com takes us out to the rolling hills of the golf course. Aardman Animation’s signature look was brought to life by Peter Peake in this new spot titled Hole In One.

Avatar, Drawn Together Lead Home Video Charge

The biggest movie of all time comes home this week with the release of James Cameron’s Avatar (Fox, $28.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo pack).

The movie is a bare-bones release, with a high-quality presentation of the movie in 2D. A later release will include more features. Avatar is being released on Thursday, April 22, to coincide with Earth Day.

Also out this week is The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! (Paramount, $24.99). This original DVD release reunites the original cast of characters and features Family Guy creator and star Seth MacFarlane as the voice of I.S.R.A.E.L. The film features more than an hour of bonus features, including the intriguingly titled segment “Anatomy of an Animated Sex Scene,” as well as behind the scenes featurettes and a faux reflection on the show’s impact on popular culture.

Also out this week is The Lovely Bones (Paramount, $30.99 DVD, $44.99 Blu-ray), Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the popular novel.

For the children in the audience, there is a choice of Handy Manny: Big Race (Disney, $19.99), Care Bears: Bear Buddies / Cheer There & Everywhere (Lionsgate, $14.98) and Care Bears: Friends Forever / Hearts At Sea (Lionsgate, $14.98)

Anime fans have Bleach Vol. 27 (VIZ Media, $24.92) and Speed Racer Vols. 1 & 2 (Lionsgate, $14.98) to tempt them.

Also, new single-disc Blu-ray editions are available for Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin (Warner Bros., $24.98 each)

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Granny and Geronimo Make Waves at Cartoons on the Bay Festival

The 14th Edition of the Cartoons on the Bay festival (held in Rapallo, Italy) came to a close this past weekend, with Brown Bag Films’ Oscar-nominated short Granny O’Grimm emerging as one of the most lauded projects at the annual event. Directed by Nicky Phelan, the delightful tale of a very grumpy old Irishwoman’s version of Sleeping Beauty was awarded the Pulcinella for Best Short as well as the Best Animated Character of the year.

Among the other projects winning awards during a hectic, but mercifully fast-paced presentation were Fun with Claude, Angelo Rules, The Penguins of Madagascar, Verne on Vacation and The Gruffalo. One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement to animation legend Don Bluth (Fantasia, Titan A.E., An American Tail, The Land Before Time) who graciously accepted the honor. “I have had such a great time visiting this beautiful country,” said Bluth. “I am so impressed by the top level of talent I have seen here during my visit. I think you should make an animated movie here in Italy ... I think Hollywood will be blown away.”

Atlantyca, the prolific Milan-based studio and publishing company behind such shows as Geronimo Stilton, Dive Olly Dive and the upcoming Oscar and Co., received the festival’s Italian Studio of the Year honor at this year’s festival. The studio’s chairman Pietro Marietti, CEO Claudia Mazzucco and exec producer Caterina Vacchi also held a special panel and press event at the festival.

The company’s most famous personality, Geronimo Stilton was quite well represented at the festival. Storyboard art from the popular series, which just announced its second season, was on display at the special Cartoon Village area of the event, while children had the chance to take pictures with the famous journalist mouse (well, a costumed version of the character) and take home free Geronimo goodies.

Diversity Issues on Display

The 2010 Cartoons on the Bay Professional program featured various panels that highlighted the importance of diversity in animated projects from around the world. Professionals from China, Iran, Egypt and Dubai were on hand to discuss the specific issues and topics of each region with the audience.

Gisella De Pace (ICE), Kevin Geiger (Magic Dumpling), Issac Wu Chen (e Top Multimedia), Wu Tao (Blue Dolphin Animation) and Kieron Seamons (Sandman Animation) provided new insights into the Chinese Animation sector and highlighted upcoming projects and co-productions. In addition, Francesco Testa, Cristina Lastrego, Luca Milano and Alfio Bastiancich (president of Asifa, Italy) showcased the new Chinese-Italian co-production Marco Polo.

Among the show’s highlights was a special panel with Laura Mattavelli (Nickelodeon, Italy’s acquisition and programming manager), Giorgio Welter (VP of Societe Tele Images Kids) and Matteo Stanzani (founder and creator director of Melazeta). The animation pros discussed how they weave themes of diversity and inclusion in shows such as Nick’s Ni Hao, Kai Lan, Tele Images’ Sally Bollywood and Melazeta’s Gabriella & Gedeone.

Festival director Roberto Genovesi also announced that the 2011 edition of the festival will showcase the thriving animation scene in Brazil.

Here is a list of the major 2010 Pulcinella winners:

Best Preschool Series:
Fun with Claude
Red & Blue Productions, UK

Best Children’s Series (7-10)
Angelo Rules
TeamTO, France

Best Tween Series (11-13)
The Penguins of Madagascar
Nickelodeon, U.S.

Best Young Adults Series (14-17)
Flying Trapezi
Toei Animation, Japan

Best Educational/Social Message Project
The Little Boy and the Beast
Studio Soi GmbH (Germany)

Best Series Pilot
Verne on Vacation
Turner Network International, U.K.

Best Cross Media Project
Assassin’s Creed 2
Ubisoft, Italy

Best Interactive Animation
Unchartered 2: Among Thieves
Sony Computer Entertainment, U.S.

Best Animated Short
Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
Directed by Nicky Phelan
Brown Bag Films, Ireland

Best Animated Character of the year
Granny O’Grimm
Brown Bag Films, Ireland

Best European Project of the Year
The Gruffalo
Directed by Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
Magic Lantern Pictures

For a more detailed list, visit cartoonsbay.com

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Little Airplane Lands 3rd and Bird! in U.S.

Little Airplane Productions’ preschool series 3rd and Bird! is landing at last in the United States, thanks to a deal in which BBC Worldwide has sold rights to Disney Channel.

The series, which New York-based Little Airplane co-produces with BBC’s CBeebies channel, will debut on Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney block in early 2011.

3rd and Bird! is a song-filled series produced with photo-puppetry animation and aimed at kids ages 3-5. It premiered in the United Kingdom last year and a second season for the series is under discussion.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Animation Block Party Comes to Animag TV

If it’s been a while since you checked out our Animag TV channel, we’ve got a great new reason for you to check it out now: We have just added a bunch of great new animated shorts from Animation Block Party, New York’s premiere animation festival!

Among the shorts now appearing (or soon to appear in the next couple of days) are:

• Lotion’s Eleven, by Matt Lee
• Intelligent Life, by Michael Langan
• Letter to Colleen, by Carolyn & Andy London
• The Bear, by Eva Michon,
• Trepan Hole, by Andy Cahill
• And plenty more!

The shorts are available now in their own channel, and you can view them by heading over to www.animationmagazine.net/tv or you can check out the channel right here!

And if you’re interested in having your short be a part of Animag TV, drop us a line at edit@animationmagazine.net!

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Shellhut, Tiny Island to Make 3D Shelldon Movie

Thailand’s Shellhut Entertainment and Singapore’s Tiny Island Productions have announced a deal to co-produce a stereoscopic 3D animated film for release in 2012.

The CG animated feature will be based on Shellhut’s TV series Shelldon, which debuted last year and has aired in more than 100 territories.

Plans are also underway to bring in additional creative partners from Japan, China and the United States.

The film has secured finances for a production budget of U.S. $20 million. Production will be based at Tiny Island’s studio in Singapore.

Shelldon is a good example of a winning property that has the potential to win over new audiences on more than one platform – in this case from television to the big screen – and in an exciting new area of stereoscopic 3D that Singapore is championing,” says Christopher Chia, CEO of the Media Development Authority in Singapore. “We congratulate both Tiny Island and Shellhut on their new partnership and look forward to seeing Shelldon on the big screen."

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Animated Anthology Set for Gibran’s The Prophet

Poet Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, a popular collection of 26 poetic essays, is being developed as a 3D animated film anthology by Hanson Inc.

The digital agency has licensed the rights to the book, first published in 1923 and currently in its 123rd printing, with the aim of developing it as a feature in which a different animator and style would work on each essay, Variety reports.

Steve Hanson and William Nix are on board as executive producers, as are former Disney animation executive Clark Peterson and Ron Senkowski as producers.

The book has been translated into more than 40 languages and is one of the best-selling books of poetry in history.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

HIT Acquires Credit to Fund Expansion

HIT Entertainment has reached an agreement with lenders to amend and extend its credit to allow continued expansion at the company.

HIT, which produces such popular animated children’s programming as Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder and Angelina Ballerina.

"We are delighted to conclude these negotiations with our lending group and are grateful for their support," said Jeffrey Dunn, president and CEO of HIT. "This allows us to focus on what we do best - making great entertainment for kids."

The company saw revenues increase to $249.2 million from $238.4 million in the 12 months ending July 31, 2009.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Rai Fiction Unveils A New Season of Toons

French fantasy author Jules Vernes and Greek hero Ulysses take center stage in two of the new animated series unveiled by Rai Fiction at Italian festival Cartoons on the Bay this past weekend. At a well-attended press event in Rapallo, Rai Fiction and animation manager Luca Milano shared some of the details of the new slate attendees.

Co-produced with Lux Vid and produced by Musicartoon, The Extraordinary Adventures of Jules Verne is a great-looking 26 x 26 series which imagines a fantasy life for the French author as a young boy. Ulysses, My Name is Nobody follows the life of the popular Greek hero as well as other familiar characters such as Calypso, Nausicaa and other mythological favorites. Directed by Giuseppe Maurizio Polyphemus, the series has also added two younger characters to engage the target audience of 5 to 12 year olds. Both Jules Verne and Ulysses will premiere on Rai Due.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Jules Verne

Rai Tre is also bringing back a second season (26 episodes) of its CG-animated preschool shows Ripples, which is produced by Rai Fiction and Genoa-based studio Animabit. Ripples the fish, Jason the crab, Polly the octopus and Icarus the Pelican discover new places and learn new songs in this Mediterranean-set cartoon.

Other offerings include PopPixie, a spin-off of Rainbow Media’s Winx Club, created by Iginior Straffi and Spike Team, a new toon created by volleyball champ Andrea Lucchetta about six talented athletes with special powers. The innovative preschool series Art with Mati and Dada, is another anticipated title, which introduces young viewers to the world of artists such as Van Gogh and Kandinsky.

To learn more about the Italian company’s animated slate, visit www.cartoonsraifiction.rai.it

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Atlantyca Brings China’s Monkey King to Europe

Atlantyca Entertainment has signed a first-of-its-kind distribution deal with China’s CCTV Animation to distribute an English-language version of the series Monkey King in Europe.

The deal, the first such agreement between CCTV and a European distributor, is the result of a major push by Atlantyca to form ties with the Chinese animation industry that included the opening of an office in Beijing.

The 52 x 22 min. Monkey King series combines 2D and 3D technology and is based on the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West. Developed and produced by CCTV, it features such key characters Monkey King, Six Ear Monkey, Jade Rabbit, Ginseng Fruit, Elder Monkey King and Elder White Deer.

“We are thrilled to be one of the first European distributors to represent programming from China and look forward to using this agreement as the foundation for a new bridge for commerce between China and Italy,” said Atlantyca CEO Claudia Mazzucco.

“It is exciting to be working with Atlantyca Entertainment as we continue to close the gap and cross the bridge between our continents. This is a journey to share our beloved children’s programming with the Western world and look forward to working with them on a number of other properties in the very near future,” said CCTV Animation general manager Wang Ying.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Moomins Cast Adds Three, Including van Sydow

Max von Sydow, Mads Mikkelsen and Helena Mattsson have been cast as voice actors in a new Moomins animated feature.

The trio joins an all-star cast for the Finnish production that includes Stellan Skarsgard, Alexander Skarsgard and Peter Stormare.

The stereoscopic 3-D animated film — officially titled Moomins and the Comet Chase and set to premiere next month at the Cannes Film Festival — will feature Oscar-nominee von Sydow as the narrator. Mikkelsen, who most recently appeared in Clash of the Titans, will play Sniff; while Mattson, who has a role in the upcoming Iron Man 2, will voice Snorkmaiden.

Oy Filmkompaniet is producing the film, which is based on the classic books by Tove Jansson. Maria Lindberg is directing from a script by Joel Backstrom, Iivo Baric, Anders Larsson and Minna Karvonen.

The film is scheduled for a theatrical release in fall 2010.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Final box office: Kick-Ass is No. 1

Final figures for the April 16 weekend crowned Kick-Ass the top movie at the box office domestically, overtaking How to Train Your Dragon.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Kick-Ass took in $19.8 million in its opening weekend, edging out Dragon at $19.6 million in its fourth weekend of release.

Preliminary estimates on Sunday had given Dragon the top slot.

Which awesome Empire Strikes Back events are near you

In honor of the upcoming 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, Lucasfilm announced a year-long charitable initiative called "The Empire Gives Back," which includes a series of events and activities designed to benefit various charities.

Below is the full official announcement.

Stay with us for more Empire news in coming weeks!



Events and Activities Benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®,
Education Outreach at Chicago's Field Museum and Make-A-Wish Foundation®

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, Lucasfilm Ltd. is launching a year-long campaign to raise much-needed funds for a brave alliance of worthy charities. Leveraging Empire's enormous popularity with fans, the goal is to channel the Force in support of a series of charitable events and activities - and to give back to the community that has helped Star Wars remain so popular for more than three decades. Among the charities to benefit from the year-long Empire Gives Back campaign are St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Education Outreach at Chicago's Field Museum and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"Star Wars has received such an amazing show of love and support throughout the years, from fans all over the world," said Mich Chau, President and Chief Operating Officer, Lucasfilm Ltd. "This anniversary gives us a wonderful opportunity to give back to our fans, and to work with some truly worthy organizations in a combined effort to support those in need."

Activities include:

* Los Angeles red carpet screening to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
o Featuring an exclusive Q&A with Harrison Ford, this one-night-only digital screening of The Empire Strikes Back is presented by Junk Food Clothing
o To be held at Hollywood's Arclight Cinema at 7:00pm on Wednesday, May 19
* Chicago screenings to benefit Education Outreach Programs at The Field Museum
o Four digital screenings to be held at The Field Museum's Ernst & Young Theater
* Friday, May 7 at 3:00pm
* Saturday, May 8 at 3:00pm, 7:00pm and 10:30pm
o Ticket Info: fieldmuseum.org or 312-665-7400
* The 501st Legion's TK Project to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation
o More than 50 contributing artists - including Star Wars actors, underground artists, celebrities and fans - will design and customize classic Star Wars stormtrooper helmets
o Entries to be auctioned through Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, Fla., from Aug. 12-15
o For more information, visit www.starwarscelebration.com
* The Empire Skates Back to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation
o Similar to the TK Project, more than 30 contributing artists will customize and design skateboard decks to reflect themes of The Empire Strikes Back
o Entries to be auctioned through Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, Fla., from Aug. 12-15
o For more information, visit www.starwarscelebration.com
* Additional programs will be announced throughout the year on StarWars.com

Originally released on May 21, 1980, The Empire Strikes Back has emerged as a fan favorite among the six chapters of the Star Wars Saga. Expanding the canvas of the "galaxy far, far away," the film enchanted audiences with its sprawling story, its mix of returning and new characters (including Jedi Master Yoda, bounty hunter Boba Fett and charming scoundrel Lando Calrissian), its pioneering special effects and, of course, Darth Vader's now-legendary climactic revelation.

Lucasfilm, STAR WARS™, and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

Samuel L. Jackson Confirms Avengers start-date & Captain America Cameo

Samuel L. Jackson promoting his recent film, does round-table interviews with multiple sites discussing Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers.

Samuel L. Jackson, promoting his recent film, Mother and Child, has spoken with IESB, MTV, and MovieWeb.

When Movie Web asked if Nick Fury gets to see any action, he replied "No, I get to talk really harshly with Robert Downey Jr., but that is about it," answered Jackson. "So far that's all I'm doing". When asked if he was happy that Whedon would be directing The Avengers, "Yes I am," replied Jackson. "I'm looking forward to that."

Movie Web

IESB's Interview With Samuel L. Jackson

Q: You’ve talked about doing nine films as Nick Fury and that it would be a gradual road before you get a Nick Fury film. How has that journey been?

I got started on it when I did the end of Iron Man 1. My foot was on the path. Now, my foot is a little deeper on the path 'cause we've got Iron Man 2. I'm not in Thor. I’m supposed to do Captain America this summer in London.

Q: Why aren’t you in Thor?

I have no idea. I'm not in charge of making those decisions. I thought I was. They said I was in the trades, and I was like, "Oh, I've got a job!" And then, I called my agent and she said, "Nah, you're not in it. They misprinted." I was like, “Well shit, they need to pay me just 'cause they put my name in it."

Q: Did you get to read The Avengers script for Joss Whedon is going to rewrite it?


Q: Do you have any desire to campaign for your own Nick Fury film?

The Avengers is my own starring vehicle for that character, pretty much.

Q: But, that’s so far away.

That's not that far away. It's just February. I've got time to get in shape and everything

To read more with Samuel L. Jackson, on 3-D films & Iron Man 2's premiere relocation, head over to IESB

MTV has posted their interview with Jackson too

"Nick does boss people around," said Jackson. "But every now and then, he does kill somebody."

While he didn't offer up any timetable for when we'll see Nick Fury getting down to business, Jackson assured fans that his character won't be content with simply dropping by Tony Stark's house or going out for donuts with the armored hero.

"[He will] shoot somebody," he said. "I'd like for him to do something eventually."

"I'm totally looking forward to finally getting Nick Fury into action," he added.

Jackson indicated that he'll probably be needed on set "next February" for his part in "Avengers," and offered up some thoughts on how he'll manage with Fury's signature eye-patch.

"[Nick Fury's eye patch] is easier than the cloudy contact lenses that I wear in the 'xXx' [films]," he said. "You can actually open your eye under the patch and kind of see things.


With The First Avenger: Captain America being set in WW2, Samuel L. Jackson is obviously referring to the film's present day bookends, which were confirmed by the film's director, Joe Johnston. And this mean Marvel will be filming The Avengers, while we wait for Thor (May 6th) and Captain America's(July 22nd) films to release.

(Thanks comic book movie)

23rd James Bond Film Delayed Indefinitely

007 producers, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of EON Productions, today announced they have suspended development on the next James Bond film previously scheduled for release 2011/2012.

"Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development on BOND 23 indefinitely. We do not know when development will resume and do not have a date for the release of BOND 23," stated Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli jointly.

EON Productions have produced twenty two James Bond films since 1962. In 1995, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli took over the 007 franchise from Albert R 'Cubby' Broccoli and are responsible for producing some of the most successful James Bond films ever, including CASINO ROYALE and more recently QUANTUM OF SOLACE. The James Bond franchise is the longest running in film history. EON Productions and Danjaq LLC are affiliate companies and control all worldwide merchandising for James Bond.

(Thanks Latino Review)

John Malkovich Talks Transformers 3 And Not Playing The Vulture

During a recent set visit for one of his upcoming movies, a bunch of journalists (I was included!) sat down with John Malkovich to talk about the film he just finished wrapping (more on that in the coming months) and a project he was almost involved with and one he's currently going to be doing.

John was rumored to have been attached to Spider-Man 3 playing the Vulture, and we all know that didn't happen. He's also going to be going up against giant robots in Transformers 3. Here's more on both subjects:

How did you get involved with the new Transformers movie?

I spoke with him last week. Lorenzo and Mark and Summit are producing. They approached me about it. I’d see the first one, which I liked and thought it was funny. I like working with them very much. They’re very good producers, they’re very hands-on, always around, really get their hands dirty which is not so normal.

Were you disappointed about the whole Spider-Man thing?

Yeah. Because I like Sam and I like Tobey and all that stuff and the producers -- two of whom who I’ve met before -- and because I got offered… I came to like them all.

Was the part for the Vulture?

Yes. But I think a lot of the people who follow that genre… I’m not sure , I never really spoke with him about it, I’m not sure if they made him… if the fanboy base… that the fanboys approved of that character as an adversary for him, or maybe the studio, or maybe that was unrelated as to why it fell apart. I heard there was things about it… Yeah it was a drag ‘cuz I like Sam, and he’s offered me a couple things and it hasn’t worked out.

I wonder how Malkovich would have been as The Vulture? Could have been cool. The world will never know.

(Thanks Latino Review)

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