Wednesday, April 21, 2010

News - 04/21/10...

Pixar Canada is Open For Business

Pixar’s new studio in Vancouver, Canada officially opened its doors earlier today. According to this article, the studio will begin production on its first film—featuring Mater from Cars—in August. The studio plans to create additional short films and specials for TV and web using existing characters from the Pixar library. Pixar Canada already has twenty employees and plans to add 55 more people within the next one-and-a-half years. To promote their new studio, Pixar produced a three-minute film, viewable on CTV-BC’s website that shows Pixar characters running around Vancouver and John Lasseter asking, “Is there a place more beautiful than Vancouver?”

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Joe Murray Wants to Create Crowd-Funded Shorts

Joe Murray, creator of Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo, has created a Kickstarter campaign to raise $16,800 to complete 2 three-minute episodes of his new online cartoon series Frog in a Suit. The pilot episode is already complete. This is part of a larger project called KaBoingTV that Murray wants to turn into a “home for quality, cutting edge cartoons and animation on the web, and a ‘free range’ and ethical environment for the artists who make them.”

When I wrote about crowd-funding a few months ago, I said that this funding arrangement would initially work best for filmmakers with a proven track record. Murray certainly has a track record, and more significantly, he is the first creator of a TV series to pursue this route. His reasons for doing so, as stated on his Kickstarter page, are admirable: “I’m trying produce the first episodes without outside funding that comes with strings attached. Its also my wish to have you the audience, plus fellow animators be my producers rather than funding sources that don’t love cartoons as much as you do.”

He also writes that the money raised will be used to hire outside animation talent and won’t be used for his personal labor expenses. The campaign runs 45 days. If his fundraising goal isn’t reached by then, the project will not be funded. In the first day of his campaign, he has already raised over $1600 or nearly 10% of his goal. We’ll keep an eye on this to see what happens.

(Thanks, David Essman)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Studio Joho Loans Talent to John Perkins Book Promo

The brand of sober, nation-state introspection that John Perkins suggests that the United States embark on is easy to cast aside as anti-American. But in these tough economic times, perhaps our country is more open to a little navel-gazing. Perkins is the author of Hoodwinked, and before that Confessions Of An Economic Hitman, and below you can see some of his words brought to life. The animation was produced in CelAction 2D but the Brisbane-based Studio Joho.

"Total Drama Action" episode wins writers' award

"The Sand Witch Project," an episode of "Total Drama Action" written by Shelley Scarrow, won in the animation category Monday night at the 14th Annual Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Awards.

Total Drama Action is Elliot Animation's sequel to the teen series Total Drama Island.

Another episode of the series, "Crouching Courtney, Hidden Owen," written by Alex Ganetakos, had been nominated in the same category. Also competing were the Grossology episode "New Recruits," by Richard Clark, and the League of Super Evil episode "Glory Hog," written by Philippe Ivanusic-Vallee and Davila LeBlanc.

In the Children and Preschool category, the winner was "Max Says Goodbye" by Kate Barris, an episode of the animated series Max and Ruby. It won over the Max and Ruby episode "Ruby's Good Neighbor Report" (Shelley Hoffman and Robert Pincombe) and "Zigby's Collection" (Louise Moon), an episode of the cartoon series Zigby.

Over 600 people attended the awards ceremony at Maro in Liberty Village, Toronto.

Screenwriter and showrunner Peter Mitchell was presented with the Alex Barris Mentorship Award for his uncanny ability to identify talent and give people the opportunity to justify his faith in them.

Hosted by Debra DiGiovanni, and written by Steven and Daniel Shehori in collaboration with DiGiovanni, the WGC Screenwriting Awards featured a variety of special guest presenters, including Yannick Bisson, Kristin Booth, Inga Cadranel, Enrico Colantoni, and screenwriters Mark Farrell, Michael McGowan, Jennifer Pertsch, Christin Simms, Shelley Eriksen, Leila Basen and David Preston.

Suspended Animation Gallery

We are long overdue in giving a plug to the Suspended Animation Gallery, an online art collection of pieces produced by Disney animation artists, done on their own time, reflecting their own personal inspirations and in created in a medium of their choice.

This unique gallery offers the paintings and sculpture for sale. Among the pieces here is work by Walt Stanchfield, George Scribner and Mike Gabriel. Just added this week are paintings by Walt Peregoy, best known for his work on 101 Dalmatians, but also notable for his contributions to Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty.

For more information on this gallery, visit

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Disney fashion spread in Spanish Elle magazine

The April 2010 issue of Elle Spain features a terrific ten-page fashion spread featuring fashion designers reimagined as Disney characters - drawn by the great Ulrich Schroder. Trendland has posted the spreads online: click here.

(Thanks, Manny Aguilera)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

The Smile and Penny Show

Here’s the opening to The Smile and Penny Show, a web series created by Hobo Divine. His collaborator on the project is Mike Geiger. Super-limited animation of the Roger Ramjet variety isn’t easy to make look right, and few do it better than Hobo Divine so naturally I’m curious to see what he does with this idea. The characters have a website at

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

MAD Cartoons coming to Adult Swim

Pssst… I just found out Cartoon Network will be announcing a new animated MAD show at their upfront presentations tomorrow in New York City.

It’s a Warner Brothers production, helmed by Peter Girardi (Funny Garbage) and head writer Kevin Shinick (Robot Chicken), featuring animated cartoons by classic MAD artists like Don Martin and Sergio Aragones, paired with today’s top cartoon animators like Ben Jones (Paperrad), M. Wartella (Village Voice, Wonder Showzen), and Devin Flynn (Vice, Aqua Teen) who will be doing his own twisted take on the Spy vs. Spy franchise.

The show will be airing on Cartoon Network this Fall, part of channel’s plan to roll out a new lineup of Adult Swim-style shows, but fit for prime time.

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Toon Tuesday: Exploding on Lift Off

Disney Legend Floyd Norman returns via JHM with a column that’s sure to resonate with today’s filmmakers. Which talks about how it’s never fun when your movie bursts into flame while it’s still sitting on the launching pad

I’ve only felt crushing defeat once in my career. It was 1959, and Walt Disney’s latest animated feature film opened to lackluster box office attendance and scathing reviews. As an animation professional still fairly new to the business, I took the whole thing personally. In later years I became more philosophical about animation and the motion picture business in general. It’s a fact of life that even the best of us will eventually fail, and there’s little we can do about it.

No one understood failure better than Walt Disney. While all of us impressionable young kids wept in our beer, the Old Maestro put Bill Peet to work on adapting “101 Dalmatians,” and he got on with the affairs of studio business. There’s little one can do about the past, and Walt was too focused on the future to weep over the failure of a single feature-length cartoon.

This is the roof of Disney's Animation Building. When "Sleeping Beauty" opened poorly, we all felt like jumping off

Yet, failure and even success felt totally different in years past. Disney stumbled with “Sleeping Beauty” and recovered with “101 Dalmatians.” We worked hard on “The Sword in the Stone,” however, that movie never seemed to resonate with audiences. We were handed Bill Peet’s remarkable adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” and were told to “fix it” because Walt wasn’t happy.

Upon completion, Vance Gerry and I were convinced we had participated in the creation of a pretty mediocre motion picture and were almost embarrassed by our lackluster story. Well, we both got a scolding from Walt who told us, “Let me worry about the story!” Disney’s “The Jungle Book” surprised us by being an enormous hit at the box office, and gave animation a much needed shot in the arm. Of course, we never saw it coming.

There was no talk of opening weekend numbers back in those days. When I think about it, we never discussed how much money any film might eventually make. And you can be darn sure Walt Disney never, ever mentioned box office gross in his meetings with us. Walt didn’t give a hoot in a whirlwind about box office gross. He wanted a damn good picture because he knew if we did that, then the rest would take care of itself.

After all those years of hard work on "The Sword in the Stone," that film then had trouble connecting with audiences back in 1963

After working on a dozen or so projects over a career, you eventually gain some perspective and you realize there are many variables you have absolutely no control over. Knowing this, you simply sit back, relax and enjoy your work. I think this is the biggest lesson I learned from the old story guys. Since you have no control over the reception of your movie, why worry about it? Do your best work, and let the chips fall where they may. You’ll either be called a moron or a genius on your movie’s release, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.

You’ve got to truly feel for today’s film makers. Not only are they required to craft an excellent motion picture, they’re also burdened with the added task of meeting the box office expectations of everyone from studio bosses to Wall Street analysts.

As a guy no longer working full time in cartoon making, I often watch the pre-release, frantic nail-biting that goes on in our industry. As the release date for a new animated motion picture approaches, artists and executives alike tremble with anticipation. However, it’s not the giddy expectation we all feel when something great is about to happen. It’s the palpable fear that the hard work of the past few years might collapse into failure. Naturally, a lot of film makers and artists fear that their careers may be in danger of collapsing as well.

Ward Kimball hard at work on one of his space films for Walt Disney Productions

Maybe this whole thing can be summed up by animation legend Ward Kimball. Back in the 1950s, Walt Disney put Kimball in charge of a special science unit to produce films on rockets and space travel. Kimball’s shows were aired on the ABC weekly show, Disneyland, and were remarkably successful. However, the race for space began to heat up, and the United States would not only build its own space vehicles, it wanted the Disney Company to make a movie about them as well.

The project was called Vanguard, and you’ll never see the motion picture that was to have been based on this rocket because it was never produced. Of course, extensive development, research and multiple storyboards were created. Like its title, the cutting-edge Disney movie was ready to move into production. However, on launch day, the subject of our film - the mighty Vanguard rocket -- exploded and burst into flame on its launching pad. Instead of soaring into the heavens, this super-sophisticated launch vehicle toppled over and exploded into a chemical-fueled inferno. Naturally, the motion picture that was to have piggy-backed on this project exploded right along with that ill-fated rocket.

However, Ward Kimball taught me a valuable lesson about disaster, and it’s something I’ll always remember. The puckish Disney Legend smiled and hung a large black wreath on his storyboard for everyone to see. Shortly thereafter, Kimball began looking for his next project. Because when things go bad, there’s nothing you can do but move on.

An actual photograph of the Vanguard rocket just as it exploded on the pad on December 6, 1957

But before you move on from today’s Toon Tuesday column … Please note that Floyd Norman currently has several books on the market that also talk about many of the amazing & amusing adventures that this Disney Legend has had while working in the animation industry.

Floyd’s most recent efforts – “My Animated Life: A seriously, funny look at the cartoon business by Disney’s first ‘colorful’ animator” and “Disk Drive: Animated Humor in the Digital Age” – are now available for purchase through While Mr. Norman’s original collection of cartoons and stories -- "Faster! Cheaper! The Flip Side of the Art of Animation" – is still for sale over at John Cawley's Cataroo.

And if you still haven’t had your fill of Floyd … Well, then feel free to move on over to Mr. Fun's Blog. Which is where Mr. Norman posts his musings when he's not writing for JHM.

Nickelodeon Studios Staffing Up for New "Avatar the Last Airbender" Project

New job postings at MTV Networks Careers website and from the Animation Guild have revealed that a new Avatar the Last Airbender television project is currently staffing up for production, with open postings for Storyboard Artists, Revisionists, and Supervisors; Prop and Character Designers; and a Live-Action/Animation Reference Coordinator. Nickelodeon has confirmed that the project is in production, adding that series co-creators Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are involved and that more information will be forthcoming at a later date.

MoCCA "Interview with an Animator" Launches with Jackson Publick on Apr. 22, 2010

Venture Bros. creator Jackson Publick will be the first subject in the "Interview with an Animator" series on Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 7:00 PM at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) in New York City. The series will be hosted by reporter Joe Strike, with future interviews featuring many animators in and around New York including Chris Wedge of Blue Sky Studios, Sita Sings the Blues director Nina Paley, indie animator Bill Plympton, and Frederator Animation President Fred Seibert. Admission is $5 (free for MoCCA members), and more information can be found at the MoCCA events website.

REMINDER: CBTV’s Student Animation Festival Deadline

A reminder: only TEN days are left to send in submissions for Cartoon Brew TV’s Student Animation Festival. Visit our festival page for rules and submission information. We have received several dozen entries to date from the US, Canada, and across Europe and Asia, and we are delighted not only by the number of submissions but by the quality of the work. The task of selecting the line-up of films for our inaugural festival will not be easy.

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Full Character Roll Out For Toy Story 3

The full roster of supporting characters for Toy Story 3 has finally been revealed.

The creators of the beloved “Toy Story” films re-open the toy box and bring moviegoers back to the delightful world of Woody, Buzz and our favorite gang of toy characters in TOY STORY 3. Woody and Buzz had accepted that their owner Andy would grow up someday, but what happens when that day arrives? In the third installment, Andy is preparing to depart for college, leaving his loyal toys troubled about their uncertain future.

Having seen the film I can safely say it's another big hit for Pixar. In fact, this might be the biggest movie of the year, or at least be in the top three.

Check out the characters below. Can you match the name to the toy?

Mr. Pricklepants
Big Baby

(Thanks Latino Review)

Skechers Shoe Company to Produce Animated Features

From Variety comes news that the Los Angeles-based footware company Skechers will develop two direct-to-DVD animated features: Hydee and the Hy-top, about an all-girl rock band; and Twinkle Toes, a girl-targeted comedy about a young dancer.

The company previously made a deal with the European company Moonscope to produce an animated series, Zevo-3.

Anaheim Comic Con 2010: "Drawn Together" Interviews

At the Anaheim Comic Con 2010, Toonzone News got to speak with Matt Silverstein, Abbey DiGregorio, and Dave Jeser after the screening of The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! Don't forget to check out our screening report and panel coverage, or else a lot of the jokes in here aren't going to make much sense. Some censored strong language and small spoilers for the movie follow, so don't read if you can't take a ******* joke.


(l to r) Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein

After the screening, I got the chance to catch up with Drawn Together co-creator, writer, and producer Matt Silverstein. Silverstein also portrayed the voice of Jew Son, the son of Jew Producer in The Drawn Together Movie:

TOONZONE NEWS: Is this the first time your movie was shown?

It was shown at South By Southwest, but we weren’t invited. We were told they couldn’t afford for us to get a press pass. We weren’t allowed to go.

TOONZONE NEWS: I’m sorry to hear that. And I’m from Austin. I used to work for the SXSW film festival.

. . . but yeah this was the first screening. Unfortunately, I had to show up late because I moved today.

TOONZONE NEWS: How did you get this movie made after the series was cancelled?

We were always disappointed with how the series ended. It was with a clip show and we didn’t know we were being cancelled because our ratings were pretty decent. Had we known, we would’ve liked to have ended it...we wanted to do a thing where the characters realized, “Holy ****! We are not really who we thought we were!” Initially we were like, “You know what? Let it go. It’s over. The show’s gone.” Then there was the writers’ strike and we really, really were broke. Comedy Central knew that and said, “Hey if you can do the movie for a fraction of the budget, we’ll let you do it.” We really liked the idea of this, and we had a lot of issues we wanted to work out in the movie.

TOONZONE NEWS: Watching the movie, it feels like there’s a lot of catharsis.

It totally was.

TOONZONE NEWS: The riff on South Park is not that you dislike South Park, but that you were annoyed by the arguments of people and critics who would say, “If this show was more like South Park, where South Park is more about something,”


TOONZONE NEWS: “And more topical, it would be a better show.” I understand how that can be frustrating and annoying.

Yeah, it’s just not what we were trying to do. South Park is clearly the better show. No one’s going to debate that. But we thought this was a fun way to get involved in the Cartoon Wars. Like nobody’s picked on South Park ever! So you know, if they can dish it out, they can take it; but I heard they can’t. I heard that—I don’t know if this is true—but I heard they were not happy about this. Comedy Central was actually very nervous about this. I don’t know if this is true, but I heard that they were very upset.

TOONZONE NEWS: Is Doug Herzog upset?

I dunno. I haven’t spoken to Doug Herzog in a long time. I think he’s upset that the show ever existed. No, Doug’s actually very cool and been very . . .

TOONZONE NEWS: So if you see him at a party or something . . .

I don’t think he’ll know who I am.

TOONZONE NEWS: No coming-to-blows?

No, no, absolutely not. And they were really supportive of the movie, like you know listen, holy ****, they put this movie out! I mean what the hell?! Like they put this out, it’s actually a pretty insane thing to have done. I love Comedy Central.

TOONZONE NEWS: I’m a big fan of all the voice talent in this movie. Was it easy to get everyone back?

Yeah, absolutely. We actually all love each other. It was a great show. It was a great staff, and the cast is so insanely talented and they love the characters they do. It’s totally outside of anything else. Sometimes they say things that are a little uncomfortable for them, but we just all have such a good time. I mean, it’s always fun to be a little naughty. These are guys who are not naughty at all. These are good people, like really good people.

TOONZONE NEWS: So you and Dave [Jeser] are doing some work on The Cleveland Show now?

Yeah, we’re on The Cleveland Show right now, and hopefully we’ll get to do more work on that because we love it. It’s a great show. We’re having a great time working on it . . . we’re actually just doing a short little stint there that hopefully will continue.

TOONZONE NEWS: You played Jew Son in this movie?

I played Jew Son.

TOONZONE NEWS: Do you have a favorite line as Jew Son?

Yeah, “I.S.R.A.E.L. took me from the only home I’ve ever known.” I thought that was a good line.

TOONZONE NEWS: So no one gets upset, I assume with a name like Silverstein, you are kosher, right?

Yeah, I am. And I think it was actually more fun for Dave. Dave’s dad is very pro-Israel and very religious and Dave has a lot of issues with his father. I think this was a good way to get a jab at his dad. Listen, the reason you do this type of stuff is to piss off your parents. This was a big one for Dave.

TOONZONE NEWS: Thank you so much for your time Matt, and congrats on the movie.

Thank you.


(l to r) Abbey DiGregorio, Jordan Young, and Dave Jeser

Ling-Ling is the show’s send-up of Pikachu from Pokémon and anime critters. The character was voiced in all three seasons and the movie by Abbey DiGregorio, formerly Abbey McBride. The happily married mother was nice enough to speak with us after the screening:

TOONZONE NEWS: Is this the first time you’ve seen the movie, Abbey?

Yeah, it was the first time. I’ve seen clips, but it's first time I’ve seen the whole thing through. Very funny.

TOONZONE NEWS: How did you like coming back to do Ling-Ling again?

Oh, so much fun. It’s always fun.

TOONZONE NEWS: You created the language that –

Jaborean as we call it.

TOONZONE NEWS: The Jaborean language that Ling-Ling speaks. How did that start?

Well like Dave was telling us earlier, I did this character in a show that spoke gibberish. They were like, “Can you just make it gibberish and a little Asian at the same time?” That’s what we did and it became Ling-Ling.

TOONZONE NEWS: What was the sketch character you did?

It was this southern kind of lady who was just a drunken lounge singer.

TOONZONE NEWS: Had you ever done a character like this for a show this edgy and adult?

No I haven’t and nothing in gibberish. Only Ling-Ling

TOONZONE NEWS: What is your favorite line as Ling-Ling?

You know what, my favorite line was when Ling-Ling was taking a shower using Prell and he said, “Oh Plurr,” for Prell which I always thought was very funny.

TOONZONE NEWS: Did Jordan [Young] really get you and your husband together from working on this show? Or is he embellishing a little bit?

Of course he’s embellishing a little bit, but I think he was there when we all hung out. So I’ll give him that credit.

TOONZONE NEWS: If the DVD does well, would you like to come back to play Ling-Ling again?

Oh of course. I’d always do that.

TOONZONE NEWS: Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you, nice to meet you.

TOONZONE NEWS: And congratulations on your baby and being married, “and still looking.”

But still looking, according to Jordan (laughs).


Next up was the raspy voiced Drawn Together co-creator, producer, and writer Dave Jeser.

TOONZONE NEWS: The series got canceled, but you got to do the movie, and it got a pretty good reception. How does that feel?

It feels great. I’m glad that the people showed up that did. They seem to be big fans. So it was just good to know that people will laugh at the stuff we do because our parents sure did.

TOONZONE NEWS: The message is that there’s not really a point to everything, and sometimes it’s OK to be funny and filthy for the sake of being funny and filthy. However, it definitely felt like there was a lot of maybe a sort of anger and aggression getting released by you and Matt in this movie.

I appreciate that it's anger and aggression, but it really is just being two big babies. It really was a time where we hadn’t worked in a little bit. There was a strike. We were struggling for money. We were happy in some ways that Drawn Together was canceled so that we could move on, but it’s kind of like the girlfriend dumping you and then wanting you for one last night. There’s a hate ****. It’s still fun. You still enjoy it, but at the end there’s a lot of anger that comes out. You get the poison out and you move on.

TOONZONE NEWS: Whose original idea was it to do the movie? Who came up with the idea?

Steve Reyses, right there. You can’t see it on this audio recorder, but Steve called us and said, “Hey, people seem to buy this show on DVD for some reason. So would you like to do a movie?” and I said, “No.” Then Matt and I went back and talked to our wives and looked at our bank accounts. And Steve was such a big fan that it was hard to say no. So we came up with an idea that the characters found out that they were canceled the same way Matt and I did, so it worked out.

TOONZONE NEWS: You took a couple shots in the movie at DVD audio commentary. Do you not care for DVD audio commentary?

No, we love DVD audio commentary. Matt and I hate the sound of our own voices. I mean anyone that likes the sound of their own voice is an *******. So we decided to put ourselves in the movie and let the characters express how it is to listen to us.

TOONZONE NEWS: I like the sound of your voice . . .

Aww, that’s sweet.

TOONZONE NEWS: Because you sound like you might be related to Jewish comedian, Bobby Slayton.

Oh he’s very funny. I can see the raspiness. I get Danny Bonaduce and Rocky Dennis from Mask.

TOONZONE NEWS: So did you play any characters in this movie?

The giant who ***** into his own mouth. That was me. That was a gift to my fans. Oh, and one of the rhino guards.

TOONZONE NEWS: A little bit of art imitating life?


TOONZONE NEWS: Just Kidding.

*Laughs* And anyone else, Steve? That’s all I got to do, right? That’s it. I don’t need to be more than that.

TOONZONE NEWS: This is a bit of a spoiler, but why did you kill everyone off at the end?

It was sort of our way we were hoping that this movie ends, the series ends, and this movie would give some finality to it. But people in the series died and came back to life all the time. So it’s a cartoon; I’m not too worried. If they want more, we’ll hire funny people and make more.

TOONZONE NEWS: Now maybe this show does have a point, are you making some commentary about Israel in this movie?

No, it really wasn’t. We just wanted to say Israel was after us. That was really it. Because at the end, I.S.R.A.E.L. saves the day, so what does that really say? (laughs) You can come up with a point, we’re all for it. We’ll jump up for it.

TOONZONE NEWS: Anything you’d like to say to the fans?

I’m sure Matt said this, but please don’t steal the movie. We’d love that. And we hope you laugh. I mean literally, all our discussion with the network —and Steve could attest to this —when we were fighting for scenes like Molly stills when she was having sex. There’s no real defense standards and practice-wise, except that we knew fans would like it. And we showed those stills at San Diego Comic-Con. We showed it tonight and people laughed. So really, we hoped we did something that our fans would like. But when it was all said and done, we just all wanted to keep stuff in that made the people who watched the show since the beginning laugh one last time and then cry with us when it’s over.

TOONZONE NEWS: Thanks so much for your time. Congrats on finishing the movie and good luck on the release.

Aw, thank you very much.

Toonzone News would like to extend thanks to Comedy Central and the cast and crew of Drawn Together for inviting us to the screening and a fun night overall.

(Thanks Toon Zone)

No New "Batman: The Brave And The Bold" Episodes Scheduled Until Summer 2010

Cartoon Network is slated to air reruns of Batman: The Brave and The Bold leading up to the debut of new episodes of the animated series come Summer 2010.

A representative for Cartoon Network has confirmed that new episodes of Batman: The Brave and The Bold will return to the network in Summer 2010. The network just completed airing a block of new episodes of the top-rated animated series. Expect repeats for the remainder of April, and well into June 2010, before new episodes of Batman: The Brave and The Bold premiere later in the season. The series is expected to return with a special two-part episode.

Please note schedule details are subject to change without notice, so please stay tuned for details on any possible alterations to the planned schedule. Cartoon Network is scheduled to re-air the Batman: The Brave and The Bold episode "The Fate of Equinox!" this coming Friday, April 23rd, 2010 at 7:30pm (ET).

Studios Come and Go

As does everything.

In February, 1989, Lou Scheimer called Filmation staffers into the studio's top floor screening room in staggered shifts to tell them the studio, after twenty-six years, was closing.

In 1985, Filmation had been the largest animation studio in Los Angeles, with 800 artistic employees.

I bring this up (again) because I got into a discussion with a couple of board artists the other day. The pair wondered aloud if the Animation Guild held contracts with any of the same studios we repped in 1952, the first year of our existence.

The answer, after deep thought and shallow research, is no ...

On this date in 1952 (we had been around for five weeks at that point), the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists had contracts with:

Walt Disney Productions
Warner Bros. Animation
M-G-M Cartoons
Walter Lantz Productions

Now, you're going to think I'm wrong here, saying "You guys still rep artists at Disney and Warners!", but bear with me.

The contract with the Walt Disney Animation Studio is now held by the IATSE, not us, though we still represent the animation staff under this newer contract. And Warners went away for a decade in the late sixties, so we have a contract with the new Warner Bros. Animation, not the original.

And Walter Lantz and M-G-M are but memories.

So what companies do we have agreements with today? Here's a partial list:

Sony Adelaide Productions
Bento Box Productions
Cartoon Network Studios
Crest Animation
DreamWorks Animation
Film Roman/ Starz Media
Fox TV Animation
Nickelodeon Animation
Pointy Hat Productions
Sabella-Dern Entertainment
Tom T. Animation
Tornanate Productions
Woodridge Productions


The object lesson here? There is no permanence in Cartoonland, and like Lantz and M-G-M once upon a distant time, there is no way to know if that animation or visual development or storyboard job you're immersed in will last a month, a year, or a decade. I talk with the hardy elder statesmen on The Simpsons and they are amazed the gig has lasted twenty-two years. And I chat with veteran Winnie the Pooh staff people at WDAS who can't believe their feature careers -- riding high when Lion King was breaking box office records and Disney animated hits seemed as perennial as California rainstorms -- might be close to over.

The only remedies to the impermanence is to be good at what you do, live below your means, and help TAG organize the newer studios that will invariably, inevitably crop up. Because new companies will be coming into existence as surely as many of the old ones will disappear. And you've got to be ready for them when they arrive.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The Nick Experience

I spent my morning at Nickelodeon Cartoon Studios located on lovely Olive Avenue in the Athens of California.


When I walked in to visit with Nick's Human Resources person, he had employment paperwork fanned out on his desk and said:

Look at these. Hire, hire, hire. We're picking up a lot of new people. We had layoffs after The Mighty Bee ended production, but now we're bringing on a lot of new people ..."

TAG has 131-plus member employees at Nickelodeon at present (see the pie-chart below), but my H.R. person said they would be adding enough folks to bring it close to 200. We'll see.

Of course, there are reasons Nick is doing more production, and here are several of them:

List of top 15 cable shows in Nielsen ratings

By The Associated Press (AP) ...

Rankings for the top 15 programs on cable networks as compiled by the Nielsen Co. for the week of April 5-11. Day and start time (EST) are in parentheses:
... 7.
"SpongeBob SquarePants" (Saturday, 9:30 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 3.02 million homes, 4.01 million viewers ...
... 9.
"SpongeBob SquarePants" (Sunday, 9:30 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.82 million homes, 3.73 million viewers ...
... 11.
"Penguins of Madagascar" (Saturday, 10 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.76 million homes, 3.51 million viewers ...
... 15.
"SpongeBob SquarePants" (Saturday, 9 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.64 million homes, 3.43 million viewers ...

I've gotten in trouble for writing about animated teevee shows that have gotten new-episode orders before our fine conglomerates have sprung this news on a breathless public. So I won't do any blabbing this time, because I want to avoid a brusque and businesslike phone call from some exec or other (and nobody called me back to give permission.)

Suffice it to say, one of Nick's shows has gotten a sizable extension; others are in full-bore production and likely to remain that way for awhile. (One of the leads on Kung Fu Panda, the Series informed me that the overseas animation and rendering or the characters look "real good.") I guess you can decide for yourself when the show comes out next month.

Nickelodeon is doing a lot of CG shows for the first time in its existence, so the studio is at last fully engaged with computer-generated projects as the genre finally takes off on television. Up until now, CGI has been a lagging indictor in t.v. The higher expense of doing it wasn't rewarded with higher ratings, so many studios didn't do very much. Not so anymore ...

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Jon Favreau Says Adding AC/DC To 'Iron Man 2' Was 'A Big Leap'

Back in January, Marvel Entertainment announced that a special AC/DC album would be released in support of "Iron Man 2," with several songs by the band slated to appear within the movie itself. And according to director Jon Favreau, the music of AC/DC is well suited for Tony Stark himself; leading the to the band's appearance within the film.

"He's Iron Man, he's Tony Stark, he's going to go a million miles an hour," Favreau explained to The Los Angeles Times. "So what do you expect this film to be and how can we take it past those expectations? When I was watching AC/DC with my wife and my son and they were playing 'Shoot to Thrill' at the Forum, I thought, 'You know this is how he should show up, right in the middle of this and take the armor off. That's the Tony Stark version of doing things."

"It was a big leap," added Favreau. "It was not a cheap thing to do. Whether you're blowing up a tank or landing in a rock concert, it's the same thing [for a visual-effects team], once he's moving around, he's moving around."

Favreau also offered his take on how the perception of AC/DC has changed over the years.

"What's fun about them is they were the full-on real deal of heavy metal when I was in high school," offered Favreau. "They were as real deal as it got. They made some people nervous — people questioned whether they were devil worshipers or not. And now these days they put on the same show ... and there's a sense of humor about the whole thing. And my kid loved the whole thing, and to me, there's an almost nostalgic thing about the whole show; there's even a strange gentleness to the music to me now, even though at the time it was as edgy as you get. It's celebrating immaturity and youth, really, at the worst."

The "AC/DC: Iron Man 2" album is out in stores this week, while "Iron Man 2" is set to land in theaters on May 7.

'Dark Knight' Producer Compares Chris Nolan Rebooting Superman To 'The Wrath Of Khan'

One of the many creators I had a chance to chat with during last weekend's C2E2 convention in Chicago was comic creator and film producer Michael Uslan, executive producer on just about every Batman project to ever hit the big (or small) screen — including 2008's record-breaking blockbuster "The Dark Knight."

While Uslan said he had "nothing to share" regarding regarding the much-anticipated third film in director Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise, he did offer up some thoughts on the news that Nolan will shepherd a reboot of the Superman movie universe. Comparing Superman's big-screen future to the second film in the "Star Trek" franchise (considered a vast improvement on its predecessor), Uslan said he has high hopes for the filmmaker's take on the Man of Steel.

"I think there are great things happening in the DC universe," said Uslan when asked about Nolan taking over the Superman movies.

"I remember when 'Star Trek' first came out as a big motion picture," he said. "I couldn't wait for that big motion picture that was one of the most expensive films ever made at the time. But I was bored to death during the movie. They spent so much money, and excuse the pun, but it was like an alien experience compared to the 'Star Trek' I knew and loved."

"And then they came back," he continued. "They figured out what went awry, and they came back with 'The Wrath of Khan.' It was a kick-ass movie that brought back a villain from the show, it was action-packed, and it was something that the guys could all really get into. I would hope that Superman will have his own 'Wraith of Khan' in the years to come.'"

For those who haven't been following along at home, Nolan's appointment as the new guardian of Superman's movie future was first announced back in February, with his "Dark Knight" co-writer David Goyer later confirmed to author a new film rebooting the Man of Steel's universe.

Little is known about the project beyond that, however — with rumors circulating about the everything from the film's villains to whether it will even be a true reboot of the character's origin.

Nevertheless, Uslan said he's looking forward to Superman getting a brand new start under the "Dark Knight" director.

"I would love to see that personally," he said.

'Marvel Vs. Capcom 3' Trailer Makes Its Debut!

The first trailer for the "Marvel Vs. Capcom 3" video game has arrived online, and it offers our first glimpse at which characters made the cut for the much-anticipated third chapter in the popular fighter franchise.

While Iron Man, Hulk and Wolverine all make appearances in the new trailer, we've teamed up with our buddies at Multiplayer and speculated on who else will likely make an appearance in the game. There are clues out there, folks — and I think we might have some answers.

Head over to Multiplayer for our full "Marvel Vs. Capcom 3" character roundup.

EXCLUSIVE: 'Iron Man: Armored Adventures' Concept Art Featuring Whiplash, Stealth Armor And Hulk!

"Iron Man 2" arrives in theaters May 7, but if you just can't wait that long for a fix of Marvel's armored hero, Marvel Animation has you covered. The first season of "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" hits shelves on DVD a few days earlier on May 4, collecting all 26 episodes of the hit animated series.

Featuring a young Tony Stark, Jim Rhodes, and Pepper Potts battling villains using a variety of high-tech armor, "Armored Adventures" was a big hit on Nicktoons when it debuted last year, and well worth the praise it received. Now, thanks to the good folks at Marvel Animation and Vivendi Entertainment, we have your first look at some of the concept art from the series — including a shot of the animated version of Whiplash, offering a much different take on the character than Mickey Rourke's "Iron Man 2" version.

Check out the images below of Whiplash, Iron Man's Stealth Armor, Hulk, and Stark Tower, among others.

Official synopsis text:

Entire First Season Of Fan-Favorite Series Debuts On DVD May 4
From Marvel Animation, Method Films, Genius Products And Vivendi Entertainment

Program Description
Embark on the high-octane adventures of boy-genius Tony Stark and his friends as they combine the latest technology and a little teamwork to save the world from evil when "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" The Complete First Season soars onto DVD May 4 from Marvel Animation, Method Films, Genius Products and Vivendi Entertainment. Based on the hugely popular and successful Iron Man franchise from Marvel Entertainment, the four-disc set features all 26 episodes from the action-packed first season. With pulse-pounding showdowns, secrets and larger-than-life challenges, Iron Man and his ever-evolving, adaptable armor are always ready for high-speed flight and whatever high-tech battles ensue. Possessing "smart writing and stellar CG butt-kickery" (Entertainment Weekly), the 3D CGI animated hit television series launched in 2009 and holds the record for the highest-rated original series premiere on Nicktoons Network. The perfect adrenaline-rush for fans before the theatrical release of Iron Man 2, the "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" The Complete First Season four-disc set will be available for the suggested retail price of $29.93.

Show Synopsis
Tony Stark is not the typical teenager... he's a billionaire, brilliant inventor... and Iron Man! "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" follows Tony Stark, 16-year-old genius and heir to the billion-dollar corporation Stark International, as he battles the enemies of world peace with his revolutionary power armor technology. Growing up, Tony had always lived a life of luxury, but everything went horribly wrong when a tragic plane accident robbed him of his father and nearly cost him his own life. Eager to honor the memory of his dad, Tony now uses his suit of invincible armor and technical know-how to protect those who would also fall prey to tragedy, corruption and conspiracy. With help from his friends Jim Rhodes and Pepper Potts, Tony's activities as Iron Man usually result in high-speed flight, high-tech battles and high-octane quests for justice.

"Iron Man: Armored Adventures" The Complete First Season
Join the adventures of teenage prodigy Tony Stark and his alter ego, Iron Man as he uses his technological inventions to battle villains and save the world! Includes all 26 episodes from Season 1.

Special Features:
Original Sketches of Characters, Vehicles and More!

Price: $29.93
Street Date: May 4, 2010
Prebook Date: March 30, 2010
Catalog Number: GN01369
Rating: NR
Run time: 572 minutes
Format: Wide Screen
Language: English
Closed Captioned

You can pick up the first season of "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" on DVD next week on May 4.

New 'Jonah Hex' Image Hits The 'Net

We haven't heard much from the "Jonah Hex" team lately, but that doesn't mean the live-action film based on DC's scarred bounty hunter is far from our minds.

Today, Warner Bros. released a new image from the film featuring Josh Brolin as the former confederate soldier that goes a long way toward keeping Jonah Hex on fans' minds.

"Jonah Hex" is scheduled to arrive in theaters June 18, 2010.

Woman spends a year creating insanely accurate miniature Bag End

After the One Ring was destroyed, all Frodo Baggins wanted was to go home. Maddie Chambers, a 30-year-old Lord of the Rings fan, knows just how he felt, because she re-created an exact replica of Frodo's home. Well, exact but for the size ... because her Bag End fits in only 3 square feet, The Telegraph reported.

Except for that, Frodo would have loved it. Everything from the portraits on the walls to the household furniture and vegetable patch in the garden is a match. The kitchen contains miniaturized food and utensils, and there's even a 1-inch version of the Baggins family tree framed on a wall, plus an even smaller, fully accurate map of Middle-earth.

"This all began when I was a young child and read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for the first time," said Chambers. "I was about 10 years old and I was instantly hooked by this magical world. I have read the trilogy at least 20 times since, and each time it still holds as much wonder as the first time."

As Gollum once said, "We wants it, we needs it!"

New Sorcerer's Apprentice trailer with cooler action, F/X

We've got the new trailer for Disney's upcoming supernatural action movie The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which features a look at some new footage and visual effects and an idea of the big action.

In the new movie—based on the animated segment of Fantasia—Jay Baruchel plays the apprentice to a sorcerer (Nicolas Cage) in present-day New York.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which was directed by Jon Turteltaub and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, opens July 16.

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