Thursday, April 22, 2010

News - 04/22/10...

Annies online!

Those unable to make the annual Annie Awards earlier this year will be animated by this welcome piece of news: the 37th awards ceremony, with featured highlights including host William Shatner, a special tribute to Roy Disney, and Winsor McCay recipients Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tim Burton and Bruce Timm, is now available to view online at the official ASIFA-Hollywood website. A link and more details can be read in this press release:


The official webcast of the 37th Annual Annie Awards ceremony presented by ASIFA-Hollywood is now on the group’s website and available for viewing.

Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor, director, producer and one of pop culture’s most recognizable figures, William Shatner, handled hosting duties. Presenters included animation legend June Foray, actors Seth Green, John Leguizamo, Sean Astin and industry notables Pete Docter, Ed Catmull and Henry Selick who provided a lively show honoring the year’s best animated productions and outstanding individual achievements in the field of animation.

The webcast also featured a special tribute to the late Roy Disney and the presentation of the Winsor McCay Award to three industry leaders Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tim Burton and Bruce Timm.

The 37th Annual Annie Awards were presented on February 6, 2010, at UCLA’s Royce Hall. The Best Feature Annie Award went to Pixar’s Up, and the film’s director, Pete Doctor won the Individual Achievement Award for Feature Direction. 20th Century Fox’s Futurama was presented with the Annie for Best Home Entertainment Production and ShadowMachine’s Robot Chicken won Best Short Subject for Star Wars 2.5.

The Best Animated Television Commercial went to Acme Filmworks for their spot Deportes for the Spanish Lottery. Disney’s TV special Prep and Landing won the Annie for Best Animated Television Production, as well as the Individual Achievement Awards for Character Design (Bill Schwab) and Production Design (Andy Harkness). Dreamworks’ Penguins of Madagascar won Best Animated Television Production for Children and its director, Bret Haaland won the award for Direction in a Television Production.

Laika’s Coraline was honored for its character design (Shane Prigmore), music (Bruno Coulais) and Production Design (Tadahiro Uesugi). The Voice Acting Annie went to Tom Kenny for his work as SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon, and Jen Cody, the voice of Charlotte in Disney’s Princess and the Frog. The prestigious Character Animation Annies went to Eric Goldberg for Princess and the Frog and Phillip To for Dreamworks’ Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space. Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach were honored for Writing in a Feature Production for Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The Winsor McCay Award, for career achievement in animation went to Tim Burton, Bruce Timm and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Tom Sito won the June Foray Award for Benevolent Impact on Animation, and William T. Reeves took home the Ub Iwerks Award for Technical Achievement. Martin Meunier and Brian McLean were honored with a Special Achievement Award for their work on Laika’s Coraline.

Created in 1972 by veteran voice talent June Foray, the Annie Awards have grown in scope and stature for the past three decades, and is considered the highest and most prestigious honor given in animation by the animation industry. Today ASIFA-Hollywood, the largest chapter of the international organization ASIFA, supports a range of animation activities and preservation efforts through its membership. Current initiatives include the Animation Archive, animation film preservation, special events, classes and screenings.

Click here to watch the 37th Annual Annie Award Webcast

(Thanks Animated Views)

Toonzone at the Cartoon Network 2010 Upfront

The Cartoon Network Upfront in New York City 2010 is over, and Toonzone has complete coverage of the event. Check below for a record of our updates as they came in from the event.

The full press release with all animated programming information is available here.

(left): Finn high-fives Jake after cracking Keeper’s riddle and opening the gate to Cragdon Moutain during their quest for the Enchiridion.
(right): Finn and Jake party with some of the mystical creatures from the Land of Ooo.
All images TM & © 2010 Cartoon Network

Adventure Time:
The animated comedy series premiered earlier this month as the #1 show on all television among boys. The series introduced viewers to unlikely heroes Finn & Jake, buddies who traverse the mystical Land of Ooo and encounter its colorful inhabitants. From the mind of creator Pendleton Ward, Ooo is a land built for adventure. Whether it’s saving Princess Bubblegum, defeating zombie candy, mocking the “oxy-moronic” Ice King or rocking out with undead music wiz Marceline the Vampire Queen, for Finn & Jake it’s always Adventure Time. The half-hour Cartoon Network series, which airs Monday Nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT, is executive produced by cable and animated television veteran Fred Seibert (The Fairly OddParents, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!).

(left) Duncan observes a creature in biology class.
(right): Duncan is introduced to his new class.
All images TM & © 2010 Cartoon Network

Cartoon Network’s first original all-CG animation adventure presents Duncan Rosenblatt, a rather typical, awkward high school kid, except that his dad is a fire-breathing monster who tells Duncan that he is destined to protect the earth. Firebreather is created and co-executive-produced by Phil Hester (The Wretch), co-executive-produced by Andy Kuhn (Freedom Ring) and executive-produced by Julia Pistor (Lemony Snicket). Jim Krieg (Ben 10: Alien Force) joins as writer with Peter Chung (Aeon Flux) directing.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated © Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.
“Scooby-Doo” and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Hanna-Barbera.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated
: With the animated Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and their talking dog Scooby-Doo are back, solving mysteries in the spooky town of Crystal Cove, a sleepy coastal village that boasts a long history of ghostly sightings, werewolves and glowing deep sea divers. From Warner Bros. Animation, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated features the voices of Frank Welker (What’s New, Scooby-Doo?) as Fred/Scooby-Doo, Mindy Cohn (The Facts of Life) as Velma, Grey DeLisle (Batman: The Brave and the Bold) as Daphne and Matthew Lillard (the Scooby-Doo films) as Shaggy. Sam Register (Teen Titans, Ben 10, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) is the executive producer. Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone (both credited for Duck Dodgers, Back at the Barnyard, Space Jam) are the supervising producers.

Clockwise from center: Skips (big white Bigfoot), Benson (Gumball machine), Mordecai (Blue Jay), Rigby (Raccoon) and Pops.
All images TM & © 2010 Cartoon Network

Regular Show:
Created by J. G. Quintel, Regular Show was developed as an animated short for Cartoon Network’s Cartoonstitute. Two groundskeepers, Mordecai (a six-foot-tall blue jay) and Rigby (a hyperactive raccoon) are best friends who spend their days trying to entertain themselves by any means necessary, much to the displeasure of Benson (their boss, who is a gumball machine) and to the delight of Pops (an older, lollipop-headed gentleman). Their everyday pursuits often lead to things spiraling out of control and into the surreal: they open portals to other dimensions, summon demons via an ‘80s arcade game and accidentally use choreographed dance moves to send co-workers to the moon. All in a typical day’s work on Regular Show. J.G. Quintel served as creative director of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack for two seasons and was a storyboard artist on the Emmy-winning animated series Camp Lazlo. Regular Show, a 15-minute animated series, is produced at Cartoon Network Studios.

All images TM & © 2010 Cartoon Network

Sym-Bionic Titan:
From creator Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack) comes an exciting hybrid of giant robot battles and high school comedy. Sym-Bionic Titan follows the lives of three alien teenagers who crash-land on Earth and must protect their new home from alien invaders while navigating the perils of high school life. Sym-Bionic Titan is being produced at Cartoon Network Studios and will premiere on Cartoon Network this summer.

(left) Ben Tennyson with his new Ultimatrix.
(right) Ultimate Humungousaur, one of Ben’s alien alter-egos.
All images TM & © 2010 Cartoon Network

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien
: The series follows 16-year-old Ben Tennyson as his secret identity has been revealed to the world and he’s now an international mega-star super hero, loved by kids the world over but distrusted by many adults. Armed with a mysterious new Omnitrix, Ben is able to transform into hyper-evolved versions of his aliens and will see action in places he’s never been. Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, a 30-minute animated series, was created by Man of Action (Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau, Steve Seagle) with Glen Murakami (Teen Titans) as the supervising producer and story editor Dwayne McDuffie. The series is produced at Cartoon Network Studios.

(left) Rex poses with one of his many weapons as E.V.O.’s loom in the background.
(right) Rex gets ready for battle as Bobo Haha and Agent Six back him up Generator Rex.
All images TM & © 2010 Cartoon Network

Generator Rex: From the creators of Ben 10 comes Generator Rex, a new half-hour animated series that takes viewers on an adventure full of fun, action, wish fulfillment and teenage drama. Generator Rex is a young super agent who, with his incredible ability to create mechanical weapons and vehicles from his own body, must balance his adrenaline-fueled adventures with the everyday ups and downs of being a teenager. Generator Rex revolves around 15-year-old Rex, as he attempts to balance his duty as a soldier in a super-spy team with just being a teenager. Generator Rex was created by Man of Action (Joe Casey, Joe Kelley, Duncan Rouleau, and Steven T. Seagle) with supervising producer John Fang (Ben 10: Alien Force, The Batman) and is produced at Cartoon Network Studios. Generator Rex will air Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network beginning April 23, 2010.

Young Justice Poster: (Left to Right) Artemis, Robin, Kid Flash, Superboy, Miss Martian and Aqualad
“Young Justice” © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
“Young Justice” and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics

Young Justice:
In Young Justice, being a teenager means proving yourself over and over—to peers, parents, teachers, mentors and, ultimately, to yourself. But what if you’re not just a normal teenager? What if you’re a teenage super hero? Are you ready to join the ranks of the great heroes and prove you’re worthy of the Justice League? That’s exactly what the members of Young Justice—Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Superboy, Miss Martian and Artemis—will find out, whether they have what it takes to be a proven hero. This all-new series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation and based upon characters from DC Comics. Sam Register (Teen Titans, Ben 10, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) is the executive producer. Brandon Vietti (Batman: Under the Red Hood, Superman Doomsday, The Batman) and Greg Weisman (Gargoyles, The Spectacular Spider-Man, W.I.T.C.H.) are the producers.

The Looney Tunes Show © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
“The Looney Tunes” and all related characters and elements
are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved.

The Looney Tunes Show
: A new half-hour animated comedy series starring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. No longer confined to 7-minute shorts, Bugs and Daffy are out of the woods and living in the suburbs among such colorful neighbors as Yosemite Sam, Granny, Tweety and Sylvester. In addition to each episode’s main story, The Looney Tunes Show also features “cartoons within a cartoon.” The Tasmanian Devil, Speedy Gonzales, Marvin the Martian and other classic characters sing original songs in two-minute music videos called Merrie Melodies and the Road Runner and Coyote are featured in 2-1/2 minute CG shorts. This all new series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Sam Register (Teen Titans, Ben 10, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) is the executive producer. Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone (both Duck Dodgers, Back at the Barnyard, Space Jam) are the supervising producers.

Secret Mountain Fort Awesome: When a portal to the world opened and unleashes underground monsters, so goes the premise for Secret Mountain Fort Awesome. The human world had everything these creatures could ever want. The only problem is, humans hate monsters, and they treat them like second class citizens. How unfair! This is their world too. Created by Chowder writer and artist Pete Browngardt, Secret Mountain Fort Awesome follows this clan in their dim-witted efforts to break free of human oppression. The animated series is being produced at Cartoon Network Studios.

Robotomy: Thrasher and Blastus stand amidst all the chaos of high school.
All images TM & © 2010 Cartoon Network

The animated Robotomy tells the story of Thrasher and Blastus, two outsider teenage droids who are only slightly less horrific than the ultra-powerful robots that populate their planet, Killglobe. Now they face their greatest challenge yet: high school. Armed with a desire to fit in (and little else), Thrasher and Blastus navigate their lives with varying degrees of success. Created by Michael Buckley (The Sisters Grimm) and Joe Deasy and co-executive produced by Christy Karacas (Superjail), Robotomy, a quarter-hour series, will be produced in New York.

“MAD” © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
“MAD” and all related characters and elements are
trademarks of and © E.C. Publications, Inc.

MAD: Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and using the iconic MAD magazine, published by DC Comics, as inspiration, MAD is an animated sketch-comedy series utilizing a chaotic mix of animation styles and twisted humor to pull back the curtain and expose the truth behind movies, TV shows, games, pop culture and, of course, curtains! Classic MAD magazine characters and features such as Alfred E. Neuman and Spy vs. Spy pop up, and no subject matter or individual will be safe from MAD’s barrage of parodies and sketches. In the end, viewers won’t get even, they’ll just get MAD! Sam Register (Teen Titans, Ben 10, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) is the executive producer. Kevin Shinick (Robot Chicken) and Mark Marek (KaBlam! The Andy Milonakis Show) are the producers.

(Thanks Toon Zone)

Spielberg, DreamWorks, Discovery Animate Future Earth

Steven Speilberg is coming back to animation having set up a miniseries for Discovery Channel.

The series, called Future Earth, will speculate about life on the planet 25, 50 and 100 years from now. Spielberg will produce the series, with DreamWorks TV and DreamWorks Animation both on board the project as well.

In a statement, Spielberg said he would personally be overseeing the development of the project. The Oscar-winning director, who presented the classic Tiny Toons Adventures animated series for Warner Bros., also is producing a special series for Discovery called The Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero.

Future Earth is part of an overall development deal between Discovery, Spielberg and the DreamWorks outlets to create nonfiction programs.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Hits 100 Episodes in May

The 100th episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force is set to air Sunday, May 2, on the Adult Swim network.

The announcement was made in a video press release that features a puppet version of Meatwad reading the press release and making a few comments along the way. The release can be seen at

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is one of four flagship shows for Adult Swim, debuting as part of the block back in 2001. The show itself predates the debut of Adult Swim and originated on an episode of Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Oni Brings Yo Gabba Gabba! to Comics

Wildbrain Entertainment and Oni Press are teaming up to bring the hit animated preschooler series You Gabba Gabba to comics.

The comic, titled Yo Gabba Gabba Story Comic Book Time Vol. 1, will be a 128-page, oversize hardcover book that will retail for $24.99 when it is released in the fall.

“Seeing the show Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz created was a revelation,” says James Lucas Jones, Oni’s editor in chief. “These were parents who grew up on the same music, television, movies, comics, and video games I did and it comes through every aspect of the show. In addition to creating a group of charming and iconic characters, they consistently bring in top-notch folks to contribute to the program like Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, House of Fun's Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, Biz Markie, the Aquabats and all of the outstanding bands in the Super Music Friends Show. I'm pleased as punch for Oni Press to be joining such a talented and groundbreaking group of creators.”

Announced over the weekend at the inaugural C2E2 comic book convention in Chicago, the book is the first a planned series from Oni and Wildbrain, which produced the program.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Martha Stewart Turns to Majesco as Games Partner

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Majesco Entertainment have teamed up to bring Stewart and her lifestyle content to video games.

The two companies have agreed to a strategic partnership that gives Majesco exclusive distribution rights.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with the Martha Stewart brand to bring sensibility to the video game market," said Jesse Sutton, CEO of Majesco Entertainment. "Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia offers a vast wealth of content and has a passionate following. Branching into the interactive entertainment space is a natural next step, and Majesco Entertainment is proud to be the exclusive partner."

"Majesco Entertainment is well respected for bringing consumer-friendly titles to the mass market and has a proven track record of tapping the interests of family and non-traditional video game players," said Martha Stewart. "Women are increasingly engaged in social gaming. We feel confident that this new offering will delight loyal customers who are active in the space while introducing a new generation to the brand."

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Michael Pataki was George Liquor on "Ren & Stimpy"

Character actor Michael Pataki, the voice of demented George Liquor on The Ren & Stimpy Show, died Thursday in North Hollywood, California of cancer. He was 72.

Ofter portraying baddies in movies, he was the first person to speak Klingon on Star Trek (as Korax in the classic 1967 episode "The Trouble with Tribbles."

Pataki often worked with John Kricfalusi in animation. He provided the voice of the Cow in several episodes of the 1988 series Mighty Mouse, the New Adventures. He was The Chief in John K.'s 1999 short cartoons A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith and Boo Boo Runs Wild, which aired on Cartoon Network.

He also guested in the 1992 Batman episode "The Underdwellers" (as the Sewer King) and the 1996 Dexter's Laboratory episode "Dexter Dodgeball" (as the Coach). He was in the voice cast of "In Your Dreams," a 1997 episode of Extreme Ghostbusters.

The uncle of actress Linda Turley, he was born on January 16, 1938 in Youngstown, Ohio. He attended the University of Southern California as a double major in drama and political science.

His film debut was an uncredited small part in Ten North Frederick (1958). But an acclaimed stage performance in 1966 at a summer stock festival in Edinburgh that brought him prominence.

Pataki was a villain in such films as Grave of the Vampire and Airport '77. Other movies included The Onion Field, The Dirt Gang, The Baby and The Bat People.

In TV's The Amazing Spider-Man, he had a recurring role as Captain Barbera. He guested on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Other series where Pataki guested included The Twilight Zone, Combat!, Rawhide, My Favorite Martian, Ben Casey, Batman, Mission: Impossible, The Flying Nun, Baretta, Happy Days, McCloud, Barney Miller, Little House on the Prairie, Charlie's Angels, T.J. Hooker, WKRP in Cincinnati, Laverne and Shirley, The Jeffersons, The Fall Guy, Airwolf and St. Elsewhere.

For exploitation producer Charles Band, he directed the low-budget '70s drive-in films Mansion of the Doomed, a horror film, and the soft-core musical farce Cinderella.

In 1981, Pataki produced the TV version of the musical Pippin. He also worked as an acting coach.

“How to Train Your Dragon” producer credits DWA team with that film’s come-from-behind box office success

Jim Hill chats with Bonnie Arnold, the veteran animation producer about all the challenges that DreamWorks Animation faced while adapting Cressida Cowell’s popular children’s book for the screen

Do you recall – just a few weeks back – how quick industry analysts were to write off “How to Train Your Dragon”? That – because this Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois film “only” earned $43.3 million over its opening weekend (as opposed to the $59.3 million that DreamWorks Animation’s “Monsters vs. Aliens” pulled in over its opening weekend) – DreamWorks Animation’s latest was now considered something of a disappointment?

Well, did you see what happened this past weekend? Where – depending on which box office report you believe – “How to Train Your Dragon” either out-earned, did just as well as and/or came within inches of duplicating the ticket sales of that much hyped new release, “Kick-Ass”?

That’s not the way that things are supposed to work in Hollywood. Films that have previously been written off as disappointments are not supposed to be still going strong during their fourth week in theaters. Or – for that matter – be moving a ridiculous amount of merchandise at WalMarts all over the country.

Bonnie Arnold at the red carpet premiere of DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon." Copyright DreamWorks L.L.C. All Rights Reserved

FYI: That’s what actually convinced Bonnie Arnold (i.e. the producer of DreamWorks Animation’s latest release) that “How to Train Your Dragon” was going to be far more popular with the public than pundits had initially predicted.

“I had animators who work here at DreamWorks who were driving to all the WalMarts in LA, trying to find a plush Toothless to purchase,” Arnold said. “But they told me that this character was sold out at all the stores that they’d visited. Which told me that audiences had already connected with that character and our movie.”

So to now have “How to Train Your Dragon” emerge as this come-from-behind winner in the 2010 box office derby … Well, that’s especially sweet for Bonnie. Particularly given all the behind-the-scenes drama that was involved with the production of this DreamWorks Animation film.

Copyright DreamWorks Animation L.L.C. All Rights Reserved

“Don’t get me wrong. Every film that I’ve ever worked on has had its share of problems (EDITOR’S NOTE: Given that Ms. Arnold is far too humble to flaunt her formidable resume, let me do it for her: Bonnie was the producer of Pixar’s “Toy Story,” Disney’s “Tarzan” and DreamWorks Animation’s “Over the Hedge”),” Bonnie continued. “And with ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ we had a terrific production team as well as Cressida Cowell’s wonderful book to work with. We all knew that there was a great movie in there somewhere. It just took us a while to figure out how to make it.”

In this case, it meant bringing in a brand-new directorial team – Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois of “Lilo & Stitch” fame – less than a year-and-a-half before this animated feature was due to arrive in theaters. Who – while being respectful of all the work that had been done on this project prior to their October 2008 arrival – still had some pretty definitive ideas about how to fix “How to Train Your Dragon.”

“Take – for example – Hiccup’s relationship with Toothless. In both the book as well as the original version of our movie, Hiccup was a younger boy and Toothless was a much smaller dragon. And since Chris felt that Hiccup needed to face a real challenge, needed to overcome a big obstacle if the audience was going to care about this character and his struggles … Well, that’s why Toothless went from being this little cute dragon to becoming this large leopard-like creature,” Arnold explained.

Copyright DreamWorks L.L.C. All Rights Reserved

FYI: If you’d like to see what Toothless was originally supposed to look like in “How to Train Your Dragon,” keep an eagle-eye out for the sequence in this movie just after Hiccup & Toothless’ first somewhat successful flight. As the boy and his dragon are resting by the sea, this trio of Terrible Terrors (i.e. that’s the name that this teeny-tiny dragon go by) fly up and then try to steal Toothless’ food. These itty-bitty dragons are actually based on Toothless’ original production design.

This is fairly typical of the way that Sanders and DeBlois approached their creative overhaul of “How to Train Your Dragon.” They found clever ways to make use of all the characters & settings that had been designed & rigged before they came on board this DreamWorks Animation production. While – at the same time – they made all of the changes necessary to improve this film, make its characters & storyline that much more engaging.

And then when you factor in that Chris & Dean (with Bonnie’s help, of course) managed to pull this all off in just 17 short months (More to the point, that none of this behind-the-scenes strife & struggle ever shows up on the screen. The film itself is seamlessly entertaining) … Well, that just makes “How to Train Your Dragon” ‘s come-from-behind success story seem that much sweeter / all the more remarkable to Arnold.

Copyright DreamWorks L.L.C. All Rights Reserved

Of course, Bonnie – being the old pro that she is – is quick to spread the credit around. When we talked on the phone earlier this week, she made a point of lavishly praising the film’s stereoscopic supervisor Phil McNally, head of layout Gil Zimmerman and Visual Effects Supervisor Craig Ring for the terrific job that this trio did when it came to handling all the 3D aspects of “How to Train Your Dragon.”

“The three of them had a plan for every shot. They were always about ‘What best supports the story in this particular scene?’ And that’s exactly what they’d do. Phil, Gil and Craig would dial the 3D up or dial it down. These guys did such a terrific job that Chris, Dean and I rarely had any notes for them,” Arnold stated.

So have all of this hard work pay off, to watch “How to Train Your Dragon” ‘s box office totals shoot towards infinity and beyond (“Given that I produced the original ‘Toy Story,’ I’m the only person at DreamWorks who’s actually allowed to make that joke,” Bonnie laughed) … What’s that feel like? As you might expect by now, Arnold once again shifted the focus away from herself and then talked about how proud she was of the DWA team.

Bonnie Arnold and Toothless at the premiere of DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon." Copyright DreamWorks L.L.C. All Rights Reserved

“They’re the ones who kept the energy positive while we were making all those changes. They’re the ones who really deserve the rewards & applause here,” Bonnie concluded.

So here’s hoping that someone at WalMart corporate headquarters actually reads today’s JHM article. And – as a belated “Thanks-for-doing-such-a-nice-job-on-”How-to-Train-Your-Dragon” present – then sends a box full of that hard-to-find Toothless plush to the DreamWorks Animation campus in Glendale, CA.

To DreamWorks Animation

Everytime I truck over to the DreamWorks campus, I find that one department or another has been moved to a different building.

Layout is now tucked away in the newer, fresh-painted space of the expanded Lakeside building. The Croods's story staff has transferred out of their old digs to (I think) the same building, its third move while I've been keeping track (and it ain't easy to keep track. As a long-time DreamWorker told me: "We move so often I walk to the wrong office for two or three days after the transfer." ...

And a different DW artist says that hand-drawn vignettes of future CG features will show up on future DVDs.

"...They liked how the drawn animation turned out for Kung Fu Panda, so they're planning more of it for other projects, at least two that I know about. It's kind of interesting doing drawn models from the CG models ..."

MegaMind, DWA's last released feature of the year, is still in story tweaks:

"There's only two board artists on it right now. Could be more later. We're still doing changes to the second act, but sequences have been locked and are in animation ..."

And work hums along at the Glendale campus.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Katzenberg on Colbert Report

Jeffrey Katzenberg appeared on The Colbert Report yesterday in a valiant attempt to show that he has a sense of humor. Make note how Katzenberg backtracks on his recent comment about Clash of the Titans after he told Variety, “You cannot do anything that is of a lower grade and a lower quality than what has just been done on Clash of the Titans. It literally is ‘OK, congratulations! You just snookered the movie audience.’”

Had Katzenberg been more open and less concerned about saying “the right thing” he would have made a much stronger impression. This deliciously awkward and revealing exchange sums up his appearance best:

Colbert: What’s better: a great 2D movie or the worst 3D movie?

[no answer]

Colbert: Because I go for the technology. Because I go for production values. Can you give them terrible stuff but make it 3D?


Colbert: But you would never do that.


Colbert: Because you’re the maker of Monsters vs. Aliens.


(Thanks, Zach Smith)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Sam Jackson Weighs In On Joss Whedon Directing 'Avengers' And Chris Evans Playing Captain America

The face of S.H.I.E.L.D. chief Nick Fury, Samuel L. Jackson first made his presence known in the Marvel movie universe back in 2008's "Iron Man." While his appearance in other upcoming Marvel movies outside "Iron Man 2" is still in question, fans have been assured of one thing: he'll have a more notable part to play in the superhero team-up film "The Avengers."

When MTV News caught up with Jackson at the press junket for "Mother and Child," he spoek to the recent news that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon was in talks to direct "Avengers," as well as "Fantastic Four" actor Chris Evans landing the role of Captain America (who will be one of the heroes featured in "Avengers," of course).

"[Evans is the] right guy," said Jackson. "Not a problem. They seem to be making great steps in the right direction to make all these films happen in the right way. So I'm looking forward to going to London and meeting Captain America."

As for the filmmaker who will likely be directing Jackson and Evans, as well as Robert Downey Jr. (as Iron Man) and Chris Hemsworth (as Thor), Jackson seemed certain that Whedon was a done deal. He also looked forward to meeting the fan-friendly filmmaker.

"They signed [Whedon], didn't they? I thought I actually saw something the other day that said he was in," he said.

"I'm looking forward to connecting with [Whedon] sometime," he added. "I guess that's, like, next February."

Jon Favreau Says War Machine Is 'High Caliber' In 'Iron Man 2'

Don Cheadle's upcoming turn as Jim Rhodes (aka War Machine) is one of the most anticipated parts of "Iron Man 2."

In the first "Iron Man," it was heavily hinted that Rhodes would don the comics-inspired armor. According to director Jon Favreau, bringing in the War Machine suit was a natural progression for his character in the sequel.

"The conversation was 'How do you expand what's there, how do you make the sequel bigger and better?' and one is way is, in essence, doubling up on Iron Man," Favreau told The Los Angeles Times. "War Machine let's you do that."

"The fun part is the ridiculousness of it," continued Favreau. "Just how many guns can you put on this thing? That's the fun part of this character. With the movie we make this effort to make everything emotionally correct but you also really want to cut loose and have fun in the places where it seems consistent to the story we're telling. And with the design and fighting style of War Machine we really went to town. He's packed with firepower and we let the [effects team] at ILM off the leash with the intensity of the destruction. The result is... high caliber."

In "Iron Man 2" Jim Rhodes and Tony Stark come into conflict over Stark's refusal to hand over his technology to the government, allowing rival industrialist Justin Hammer an opening to drive a wedge between the two friends.

Back in January, War Machine co-creator Bob Layton revealed that Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. consulted with him about what motivates Rhodes in this film.

“I can’t really tell you anything particular about the story,” Layton said to MTV News. “But there’s a point where Tony and Jim are in disagreement on something pretty major. They were trying to understand what Jim’s motivation would be in that situation. I was flattered that they asked me my opinion on it.”

"Iron Man 2" invades theaters on May 7.

'The Crow' Director Considering On-Location Filming In Detroit

Back in February, director Stephen Norrington revealed that "The Crow" may begin shooting this summer. And while news on the project has been relatively quiet since then, word has emerged that "The Crow" could be filmed in Detroit, too.

"Part of the new story is set in Detroit and we've been discussing the logistics of shooting on location," Norrington told The original "Crow" comic was created by Michigan native James O'Barr who set his first storyline in Detroit.

Alex Proyas' adaptation of "The Crow" also took place in Detroit during the backdrop of Devil's Night — an annual Detroit tradition in which abandoned and derelict houses are burned.

However, the new "Crow" may also be filmed in Montreal due to more favorable tax incentives. "There are a lot of financial incentives pertaining to the visual effects to go to Montreal," added Norrington. "So for now it's an open question."

The latest version of "The Crow" was announced in 2008 as Norrington's first film since directing "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." Norrington was also the director of the first "Blade" film.

Last November, "The Crow" producer Ryan Kavanaugh stated that Norrington's "The Crow" would be substantially different from the first "Crow" movie.

“I think it's something cool, we're approaching it differently,” stated Kavanaugh. “He'll have makeup, but it will be different. The best way to compare it is the first ‘Batman’ and ‘Batman Begins.’ In terms of their look and feel and character.”

James Cameron: Avatar 2 will enter Abyss territory

If you've been wondering what James Cameron could possibly have planned for an Avatar sequel to top the original, now we know. It looks like the director will be heading under the sea, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In an interview pegged to tomorrow's release of Avatar on DVD and Blu-ray, Cameron revealed that Avatar 2 will focus on the oceans of his alien world:

We created a broad canvas for the environment of film. That's not just on Pandora, but throughout the Alpha Centauri AB system. And we expand out across that system and incorporate more into the story—not necessarily in the second film, but more toward a third film. I've already announced this, so I might as well say it: Part of my focus in the second film is in creating a different environment—a different setting within Pandora. And I'm going to be focusing on the ocean on Pandora, which will be equally rich and diverse and crazy and imaginative, but it just won't be a rain forest. I'm not saying we won't see what we've already seen; we'll see more of that as well.

Cameron's experiences with such previous films as The Abyss and Titanic should help him with any Avatar 2 undersea effects.

But what do you think? Are you ready to get wet with the director all over again? Or would you rather he strike out for some new territory?

Russell Crowe in Lord of the Rings. Really?

Since we couldn't imagine anyone other than Viggo Mortensen playing Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, it's easy to forget that the actor didn't always have a lock on the role. Gladiator's Russell Crowe was once in the running.

Now moviefone has created (among other things) the LOTR poster as it might have been had Crowe made it all the way to the screen.

As part of a feature reimagining classic films with the stars originally (or rumored to be) cast, Dustin Glick has whipped up photo illustrations showing us not only a very different Return of the King, but also Will Smith as Neo in The Matrix and Ralph Macchio filling in for Marty McFly in Back to the Future.

(Give us a moment to stop shuddering over that last one.)

Head over to moviefone for another dozen mixed-up movie posters.

Leonard Nimoy announces retirement ... again

His career is dead, Jim. And this time, Leonard Nimoy means it. After having been seduced out of retirement by J.J. Abrams to play Spock Prime in the Star Trek reboot and William Bell in Fringe, the 79-year-old actor says it's time to call it quits, The Toronto Sun reported.

"I've been doing this professionally for 60 years," Nimoy said. "I love the idea of going out on a positive note. I've had a great, great time."

But haven't we already heard this? After all, Nimoy has taken a hiatus from film and TV before.

"I was away from acting for 12 years, so I guess I was seducible," Nimoy said. "But since J.J. Abrams revived the Star Trek franchise, I felt I owed him something. And I'm glad I did it, because he promised me a good story, and it was."

Now the actor wants to get out of the way of Zachary Quinto, who's taken over the iconic role of Mr. Spock.

"I want to get off the stage," he said. "Also, I don't think it would be fair to Zachary Quinto. He's a terrific actor, he looks the part, and it's time to give him some space. And I'm very flattered the character will continue."

What do you think? Can an actor ever really get acting out of his blood? Once Nimoy's recent gigs air, do you think we'll ever see him on the screen again?

Actual Avatar Tree of Souls being built in London

If the 3-D effects of James Cameron's blockbuster didn't have you feeling close enough to all that Avatar action—and you happen to be in London this weekend—you're going to get your chance to plug into the film's sacred Tree of Souls for real, according to viewlondon.

As a promotional stunt to mark Avatar's Blu-ray and DVD release, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will be erecting a giant, interactive, replica Tree of Souls at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park on Earth Day. Stephen Lang—who starred as Col. Miles Quaritch—will unveil the interactive exhibit, which will remain on display for three days between Saturday and Monday.

The Tree of Souls re-creation will be the largest fiber-optic installation in Europe, using 20 miles of fiber-optic branches. Sensors within the tree's trunk will change the color and intensity of its glow in response to movements made by visitors to the tree, who'll also be able to plug their iPods, MP3 players and phones into the tree, which will then glow and pulsate in time to the music being played.

Sadly, the press materials give no clue as to whether this particular Tree of Souls will be ponytail-ready. So if you drop by Speakers' Corner, be sure to let us know!

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