Friday, May 14, 2010

News - 05/14/10...

Robin Hood Takes Aim at Iron Man 2

Marvel’s golden Avenger is challenged by a more traditional hero this weekend as Ridley Scott’s new version of Robin Hood enters the summer box office battle.

Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and released by Universal, opens in an estimated 3,500 cinemas this weekend. Reviews on the film, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, have been mixed, but the iconic character has been a big box office draw since the dawn of cinema. This brooding version of the legend features state-of-the-art vfx by Moving Picture Company, Lola Visual Effects and Hammerhead.

Also new this week are the romantic comedies Letters to Juliet, which opens in just under 3,000 theaters, and Just Wright, hitting about 1,800 cinemas.

In addition to the aforementioned Iron Man 2, further box office holdovers include A Nightmare on Elm Street, DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon, Clash of the Titans and superhero movie Kick-Ass.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Stan Lee Headlines L.A. Rock’n Comic-Con May 28-30

It’s only two weeks until the inaugural Los Angeles Rock’n Comic-Con rolls into the Pasadena Convention with special guest Stan Lee.

Lee, the co-creator of such iconic Marvel comic book characters as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, X-Men and the Hulk, will launch the show with a ribbon cutting ceremony, a meet and greet with VIPs, autograph sessions, photos and special panel.

The convention, set for May 28-30, will feature guests from the worlds of animation, film, comic books and movies, including such art favorites as J. Scott Campbell, Dean Yeagle, Rod Roddenberry, Marc and Elaine Zicree and many more.

The festival also will feature rock concerts featuring performances by A Flock of Seagulls, When in Rome, Dramarama, The Motels and more.

For more information on the convention, including tickets, visit or

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Power Rangers, Back in Saban’s Hands, Coming to Nick

Haim Saban has reacquired the rights to the long-running children’s action series Power Rangers and has teamed with Nickelodeon as the brand’s U.S. television platform.

An 18th season of the show is planned to debut on Nickelodeon and Nicktoons in 20011, with the franchise’s 700-episode back catalog of episodes returning to television on Nicktoons later this year.

Saban cooperated with Japan’s Toei Co. in re-acquiring the rights to the show from the Walt Disney Corp. Disney acquired the brand in 2001 when it bought Fox Family Worldwide and its library, which included the Saban-created property.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Nickelodeon to bring the ever-popular Power Rangers to a whole new generation of viewers,” said Haim Saban, the original developer of Power Rangers. “With Nickelodeon’s reach we are at the beginning of a new era for one of the world’s leading children’s entertainment properties.”

“We are truly excited to be partners with Haim Saban and his team,” said Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group. “As one of the original leaders in kids’ television he helped to create powerful brand equity for Power Rangers and with partnerships like this Nickelodeon will be able to build a broader audience, superserve multiple demos, especially boys, and expand our programming offerings.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

VeggieTales Adds Food, Toy, Candy Licensees

VeggieTales creators Big Idea Entertainment has signed up licensees in several categories for the faith-based animated series.

The deals include confectionary products from Frankford Candy & Chocolate, play ball and toys from Hedstrom, and Easter candy baskets and gift sets from Sherwood Brands.

The new products will start appearing in stores as early as this spring.

“Our always expanding licensing and merchandising program continues to provide us with a wonderful opportunity to bring the enduring values and wholesome entertainment of Big Idea and our VeggieTales series to an even wider audience,” said Brian Mitchell, director of marketing and licensing for Big Idea Entertainment. “We are excited to share the VeggieTales messages through these new products that have popular appeal to children and families.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Mike Reagan Music Expands Staff

Mike Reagan Music, a creative company behind the scores to the animated series Wow Wow Wubbzy!, Ape Escape and videogames such as Darksiders and God of War, is expanding with three additions to its staff.

Brandon Violette joins the company as VP of new business development, while Jenn Shundo is the new manager of new business development and Gareth signs on as assistant composer to Mike Reagan, the award-winning composer, songwriter and music producer who founded the company.

The additions are meant to support the company’s recent expansion into TV and film music.

Mike Reagan Music, located in Santa Clarita, Calif., now has 2 identically mirrored composition, recording and editing studios, fully equipped to record ensembles, including full percussion and horn sections. Reagan records live orchestral productions at the world-famous Skywalker Sound with members of the American Federation of Musicians and his select team of top Hollywood orchestrators.

Reagan's music for the Emmy award-winning Wow Wow Wubbzy! cartoon series received a Telly Award for Best Use of Music in Television.

For more information please visit

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Titles for Henchin’

Here’s a nice little animated opening title sequence from Henchin’, an otherwise live action short film by Javier Badillo. Badillo, an animator / filmmaker from Venezuela living and working in Vancouver, wrote and storyboarded the sequence, and then put together a team of animation artists, including animation director Jeff Agala(Atomic Betty).

If you are curious, you can watch the rest of the short here

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Rollercoaster Tycoon heads to big screen

Sony Pictures Animation has acquired rights to the big screen adaptation of Atari video game Rollercoaster Tycoon, reports Heat Vision Blog. The live-action/CGI flick will be penned by David Ronn and Jay Scherick while Harald Zwart will direct and produce.

Richard Sherman tunes up Iron Man 2

In an exclusive chat with the D23 fan community site, none other than Richard Sherman shares his enthusiasm at being asked to pen a Disney-esque melody for current smash Iron Man 2, produced by Marvel Studios, now a division of Disney, of course, and also suggests Walt would be “thrilled” with that recent acquisition.

Animating hotel rooms for Disney World

Thomas Smith, Social Media Director of Disney Parks, has announced through the Disney Parks page that a new hotel resort, Disney’s Art Of Animation Resort, is expected to open at Walt Disney World by the end of 2012. The one-of-a-kind resort will feature family suites designed around four themes: The Lion King, Cars, Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid, including a model of King Triton that will eventually stand 35 feet tall.

PBS, Nick Lead Daytime Emmys’ Animation Nominations

PBS and Nickelodeon dominated the animation and animation-related categorie in the nominations for the 37th annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

Three PBS series – Wordgirl, Curious George and Sid the Science Kid – were nominated as the outstanding children’s animated program alongside Nick’s The Backyardigans.

The winners will be announced June 27 in Las Vegas. The ceremony will be broadcast on CBS. The Daytime Creative Arts Emmys will be presented two days earlier at a ceremony at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.

The nominees in the animation and animation-related categories are:

Outstanding Children's Animated Program
• Wordgirl (PBS).
• The Backyardigans (Nickelodeon).
• Curious George (PBS)
• Sid The Science Kid (PBS)

Outstanding Children's Series
• Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman (PBS)
• Design Squad (PBS)
• The Electric Company (PBS)

Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series
• The Wonder Pets! (Nickelodeon)
• Between The Lions (PBS)
• Sesame Street (PBS)

Outstanding Special Class Animated Program
• SpongeBob SquarePants (Nickelodeon)
The Penguins Of Madagascar (Nickelodeon)
• Ni Hao, Kai-Ian (Nickelodeon)
• Sid The Science Kid: “Getting A Shot: You Can Do It!” (PBS)

Outstanding Achievement In Main Title And Graphic Design
• The Electric Company (PBS)

Outstanding Achievement In Music Direction And Composition
• The Wonder Pets! (Nickeleodeon)
• Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 (Cartoon Network)
• Phineas And Ferb (Disney Channel)
• The Penguins Of Madagascar (Nickelodeon)

Outstanding Original Song – Children’s And Animation
Dora The Explorer (Nickelodeon), “Nochebuena Song,” Peter Lurye, Composer & Lyricist
• Between The Lions (PBS), “It's a p-h!,” Paul Jacobs and Sarah Durkee, Composers & Lyricists
• The Wonder Pets! (Nickelodeon), “A Fiddler Crab Am I,” Larry Hochman, Composer; Billy Aronson, Composer; Jerry Bock, Composer
Phineas And Ferb (Disney), “Come Home Perry,” Dan Povenmire, Lyricist; Aliki Grafft, Lyricist; Baron Grafft, Lyricist; Martin Olson, Composer & Lyricist
Sesame Street (PBS), “Song About Elmo,” Mark Radice, Composer; Belinda Ward, Lyricist

Outstanding Original Song
Special Agent Oso (Disney Channel), “Special Agent Oso Main Title,” Mike Himelstein, Composer; Ford Riley, Lyricist
Moment Of Luxury (PBS), “Moment Of Luxury Theme Song,” Peter Fish, Composer & Lyricist
• Today Show (NBC), “Your Day Is Today,” Randy Wachtler, Composer & Lyricist; Greg Barnhill, Composer & Lyricist

Outstanding Achievement In Main Title And Graphic Design
The Electric Company (PBS)
Fanboy And Chum Chum (Nickelodeon)
Avec Eric (PBS)
Sesame Street (PBS)

Outstanding Achievement In Sound Editing - Live Action And Animation
Phineas And Ferb (Disney Channel)
Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 (Cartoon Network)

Outstanding Writing In Animation
Wordgirl (PBS). Tom Martin, Head Writer; Carla Filisha; Eric Ledgin; Jack Ferraiolo; John N. Huss; Kim Samek; Matt Fleckenstein; Ryan Raddatz and Will Shepard.
Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman: “Season Four is Canceled” (PBS). Glen Berger, Head Writer; Jim Conroy, Writer
The Fairly Oddparents (Nickelodeon). Will Schifrin, Kevin Sullivan, Ed Valentine, Butch Hartman, Joanna Lewis, Charlotte Fullerton, Amy Keating Rogers, Gary Conrad, Tom Krajewski; Scott Fellows, writer/story editor; Ray Delaurentis, story editor
Back At The Barnyard (Nickelodeon). Jed Spingarn, writer/producer; Tom Shephard; Dan Serafin; Gene Grillo, Writer/Story Editor
The Penguins Of Madagascar (Nickelodeon). Bob Schooley, Head Writer; Mark McCorkle, Head Writer; Bob Roth, Bill Motz, Brandon Sawyer, Eddie Guzelian
Phineas And Ferb (Disney Channel). Antoine Guilbaud, Kim Roberson, Dan Povenmire, Bobby Gaylor

Outstanding Writing In A Children's Series
Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman (PBS). Glen Berger, Head Writer; Jim Conroy
The Electric Company (PBS). Willie Reale, Head Writer; Adam Peltzman, Deirdre O'ConnoR
Sesame Street (PBS). Joey Mazzarino, Head Writer. Judy Freudberg, Writer/Head Writer “Elmo's World”; Belinda Ward, John Weidman, Luis Santeiro, Emily Kingsley, Christine Ferraro, Annie Evans, Molly Boylan, Tony Geiss

Outstanding Achievement In Sound Editing - Live Action And Animation
Phineas And Ferb (Disney Channel)
• Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 (Cartoon Network)
• The Electric Company (PBS)

Outstanding Achievement In Sound Mixing - Live Action And Animation
The Mr. Men Show (Cartoon Network)
Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 (Cartoon Network)
The Fairly Oddparents (Nickelodeon)

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

A Family Portrait Takes Grand Prix at Stuttgart

The Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film has given its grand prize to the film A Family Portrait by Joseph Pierce of the United Kingdom.

The festival announced the honor Sunday night at the conclusion of the festival’s six day run. The festival attracted more than 1,500 accredited professional visitors and presented more than 600 films, resulting in ticket sales increasing about 20 percent this year.

The full list of winners follow:

International Competition
Grand Prix: A Family Portrait, by Joseph Pierce (U.K. 2009)
• Lotte Reiniger Promotion Award For Animated Film: Sam's Hot Dogs, by David Lopez Retamero (U.K. 2009)
• Music For Animation: Love & Theft, by Andreas Hykade. Music: Heiko Maile (Germany 2009)
• Special Mention: A Trip to the Seaside, by Nina Bisyarina (Russia 2008)
• SWR Audience Award: Sinna Mann (Angry Man), by Anita Killi (Norway 2009)

Young Animation
• Young Animation Award: Parade, by Pierre-Emmanuel Lyet (France 2009)
• Special Mentions: Yellow Belly End, by Philip Bacon (U.K. 2009) and Lebensader, by Angela Steffen (Germany 2009)

Tricks for Kids
• Tricks For Kids Award: Der Gruffelo (The Gruffelo), by Jakob Schuh and Max Lang (U.K. 2009)
• Special Mention: Log Jam, by Alexei Alexeev (Hungary 2008)
• Special Mention Series: The Penguins of Madagascar, "Paternal Egg-Stinct,” by Bret Haaland (U.S.A. 2009)

• Winner Animovie: Ponyo, by Hayao Miyazaki (Japan 2008)
• Special Mention: Fantastic Mr. Fox, by Wes Anderson (U.S.A. 2010)

Under Commission
• Under Commission Award: Harmonix “The Beatles: Rock Band” Intro Cinematic, by Pete Candeland (U.K. 2009)
• Gewinner Kategorie Musikvideo: Her Morning Elegance, by Oren Lavie, Merav Ben Simon, Yuval Nathan (Israel 2009)
• Special Mention: Mr. Furry, by Roberto Bagatti (Italy 2009)

German Animation Screenplay Award
• Winner Screenplay Award: Heiko Martens, for the screenplay of Lars Lemming.

German Voice Actor Award
• Winner German Voice Actor Award: Oliver Kalkofe, as "B.O.B." in Monsters vs. Aliens

Best of the Best
• Award Winner: Ah Pook is Here, by Philip Hunt (U.K./ Germany 1994)

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

SVA Dusty Award Winners Announced

The School of Visual Arts honored the Ross Bollinger film Pencilmation with the Dusty Award for outstanding achievement in traditional animation.

The award was one of several given to the New York school’s graduating animation student films. The 21st annual presentation of the Dustys was held May 6 at the SVA Theatre in New York, and featured as presenters such notable filmmakers as James Gandolfini, Patricia Clarkson, Phil Donahue, Chris Newman, John D. Dilworth, Howard Beckerman, Stephen Rotter, Nancy Schreiber, James C. Strouse, Laverne Berry, Roy Frumkes and Derek Curl.

The winners in the animation categories are:

• Outstanding Achievement in Traditional Animation: Ross Bollinger for Pencilmation
• Outstanding Achievement in Traditional Character Design: Mallory Coronado for Friend
• Outstanding Achievement in Traditional Production Design: Lindsay Woods for Phosphoro
• Outstanding Achievement in Stop-Motion Animation: Jessica Polaniecki for To Have and To Hold
• Outstanding Achievement in Stop-Motion Character Design: Shannon Lee for Sweet Illusion

The other awards presented were:

• Outstanding Film: Lexan Rosser for Children At Play
• Outstanding Achievement in Directing: Kyle Mumford for His Naked Mind
• Outstanding Achievement in Screenwriting: Benjamin Sweet for Arizona Hit Man
• Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Kyle Sather for His Naked Mind
• Outstanding Achievement in Editing: Kyle Mumford for His Naked Mind
• Outstanding Achievement in Sound: Kate Driscoll and Elias Orelup
• Outstanding Documentary (Film): Kylie Jeunette for The Children of Wegbe
• New York Women in Film and Television Award: Bennett Elliott for Dot
• National Board of Review Human Spirit Award: Robert Kolodny for Shelter
• National Board of Review Awards: Sachio Cook (Animation), Yohko Shiraishi (Film) and Victoria Rivera (Film)

“We are very happy to be presenting our 21st year of the Dustys, recognizing these wonderful filmmakers and animators,” said Reeves Lehmann, chair of the BFA Film, Video and Animation Department at SVA. “We are pleased to celebrate the successes of our students with many guests from the worlds of film and animation.”

The 2010 Dusty Film and Animation Festival and Awards headlining sponsors are Eastman Kodak, CAVA – SVA Computer Store, National Board of Review, New York Women In Film and Television, Act Zero Films, AJA Video Systems, Animation Magazine, Arri/CSC, Avid, Back Stage, Foto Care, Future Media Concepts, Gotham Sound, Keslow Television, Nice Shoes, Panavision and SCS Agency, Inc.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Animation-classical music event at AMPAS sold out

Stick around the standby line if you want to see and hear What's Opera, Doc? -- Animation and Classical Music, part of The Marc Davis Celebration of Animation at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater this Friday night.

Although the Beverly Hills event -- hosted by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Up, Ratatouille) -- is sold out, a standby line will form Friday, and standby numbers will be assigned at about 5:30 p.m. Any available tickets will be distributed shortly before the program begins at 7:30 p.m. Ticketholders should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the event to ensure a seat in the theater.

Oscar-winning animated feature director Pete Docter and Academy Music Branch governor Bruce Broughton are the special guests.

Whether serving as the soundtrack for a comedic story like The Band Concert (1935) starring Mickey Mouse, a stylized operatic parody like What's Opera, Doc? (1957) with Bugs Bunny, or the symphonic inspiration for the visual storytelling of Fantasia (1940), classical music has had a strong influence on animated films since they were first synchronized with sound.

Giacchino will serve as a guide through some of the most inspired and memorable uses of classical music in animation, accentuating the ways this music has influenced animated filmmaking. Special guests include Docter (Up, Monsters, Inc.) and Broughton (Silverado, The Rescuers Down Under). The evening of big-screen presentations is being held in conjunction with the citywide "Ring Festival LA" and the Academy's Chuck Jones exhibition.

The following shorts are scheduled to be shown in their entirety, as well as the entire "Dance of the Hours" sequence from Fantasia by Ponchielli with dancing hippos, crocodiles, ostriches and elephants. A sequence from Up will also be screened:

Music Land (Disney, 1935)
The Band Concert (Disney, 1935)
Rhapsody in Rivets (Warner Bros., 1941)
A Corny Concerto (Warner Bros., 1943)
The Cat Concerto (MGM, 1946; Oscar winner)
Rabbit of Seville (Warner Bros., 1950)
What's Opera, Doc? (Warner Bros., 1957)

There are additional clips and shorts which will be shown that have not been determined at this time.

The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard. All seating is unreserved; call (310) 247-3600 for further details.

Meanwhile, Friday marks the beginning of the Academy's exhibition Chuck Jones: An Animator's Life from A to Z-Z-Z-Z, presented in association with the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity. It's being held through August 22, at the Academy's Grand Lobby Gallery.

Oscar winner and master humorist Chuck Jones (1912–2002) will be celebrated with an Academy exhibition showcasing 150 drawings, storyboards, cels, dialogue sheets and other materials from a life of laughter and mischief-making.

On view will be materials related to many of the highlights and rarities from Jones's prodigious output of animated short films, features and television specials, including Elmer's Candid Camera, For Scent-Imental Reasons, Duck Amuck, Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, From A to Z-Z-Z-Z, What's Opera, Doc?, Beep Prepared and The Dot and the Line.

These items are drawn from the remarkable collection left by Jones to the non-profit organization that bears his name. The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity provides public educational programs and exhibitions based on the art, writings, teachings and unique philosophy of Chuck Jones.

Public viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.

The gallery is closed Mondays. It will also be closed Sunday, May 30 and Sunday, July 4.

Papa Smurf, Homer Simpson appear on Ecstasy pills

Ecstasy tablets of cartoon characters Papa Smurf and Homer Simpson were sold by a 16-year-old Wisconsin boy, police said in an indictment Wednesday.

Craig E. Gustafson of Stanley was charged in adult court in Clark County with four drug-related felonies, including selling pills starring the cartoon dads.

Gustafson told police April 27 that he knew selling the drug was illegal, telling them "the only reason he did it was because he could not find a job," court records stated. He is charged with three counts of delivery of marijuana and one of delivery of a controlled substance.

The Ecstasy came in the forms of Papa Smurf and Homer Simpson, which looked like vitamins, said Clark County Investigator Scott Haines. Twenty tablets make up one gram of Ecstasy.

The criminal complaint said that on March 29, April 20 and April 20, members of the West Central Drug Task Force and Clark County sheriff's office conducted "buys," with an informant purchasing one gram of Ecstasy and 7.6 ounces of marijuana from Gustafson at two locations in the city of Thorp. The task force provided marked money. It also videotaped and audiotaped the drug buys.

Although Gustafson denied being involved with illegal drug sales at first, he admitted to the transactions on the three dates after police told him they had video and audio recordings.

The Perfect Contest

Delightful Craigslist ad that functions as a response to all those inane animation and graphic design contests. Perhaps some of those contest-driven animation sites will take the hint. Or not.

(Thanks, Jeaux Janovsky)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Let’s Write A Book

Collage-style video for the song Let’s Write a Book by Field Music. Directed by Ollie Murray and Rohan Wadham at Decoy.

(Thanks, Robert Pisani)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Amazing Archive of Vintage TV Commercials

The commercial above comes from Duke University’s AdViews digital archive which is the most significant collection of vintage TV commercials that I’ve ever seen available online. The commercials, which were digitized only last year, were either created or collected by the ad agency Benton & Bowles and its successor, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B). I’ve browsed through only a portion of the offerings, and have already seen dozens of pristine copies of animated TV commercials that I’d never seen before. For example, there’s this collection of Linus the Lionhearted commercials, but even better is this proto-Linus commercial that dates back to when he was a mascot for a cereal called Heart of Oats. Also notable is this seven-minute US Air Force Reserve short directed by Gerald Baldwin at Hanna-Barbera with backgrounds by Walt Peregoy.

My favorite commercial of the moment? This bizarre Fleischer-esque piece advertising hot cereal. They sure don’t make loopy neck animation like that anymore:

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

"Daria" to Air on TeenNick on May 16-17, 2010

Several episodes of the MTV animated series Daria will be airing on TeenNick in the early morning hours of May 16-17, 2010, in small marathons starting at 2:00 AM through 5:30 AM (Eastern). The show aired regularly on TeenNick (formerly "The N" network) from 2002-2006, but there are no future airings of the show currently scheduled. The Daria complete series DVD set was released last Tuesday, May 11, 2010.

Daria was a spin-off from MTV's hit show Beavis and Butthead, whose title character was a cynical, cerebral teenager navigating the wilds of high school with witty quips and put-downs, along with the help of her artistic friend Jane.


For the first time since I've been going up to the big yellow building next to the fabled Bob Hope Airport, there are artists working on the middle floor, sprinkled among the execs ....

They're working on a new show for (I think) the new Family/ Kids' Network called The Hub. Looks like a fun production, but since I haven't seen its title announced on the intertubes and I'm not keen on hearing some executive yell: "We haven't announced the show yet, you oaf, so keep your yap shut!" I won't reveal the title of the opus here.

Most of the crew are recent refugees from Warner Bros. Animation. As one board artist remarked:

"Almost all the people working here got laid off of Looney Tunes months ago, when they shut down the series to retool. We've been up here a couple of days, and should be working at least until September. The show does well, it could be a lot longer. We hope."

Meanwhile, things are still relatively quiet up on The Simpsons floor, and construction on Hasbro/Discovery's other floor continues apace.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The Permanence of Three Dee -- Part XVII

What Big Jim says, goes.

"Avatar" director James Cameron said Thursday that 3-D will replace 2-D as the standard, mainstream format for film, television and online content in less than 25 years.

Viewers will soon not only enjoy films in 3-D theaters but all forms of entertainment, including sports and music shows on TVs and laptops, Cameron said at a technology forum in Seoul.

Dim screens! Eye strain! I can't wait.

(Maybe Jim will help convert Wizard of Oz to 3-D.)

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Sproxton Details Nick Park’s First Years With Aardman

Back in March, we posted the first two installments of A History of Aardman, as told by the studio co-founder Dave Sproxton. Here’s part 4 of the series, that focuses on how Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Gromit, joined Aardman Animations and went on to conceive, direct and animate Creature Comforts.

Gorillaz Step Into New Skin For O2 Shows

After a sell-out run at London’s Roadhouse, the band Gorillaz have announced a brief UK arena tour that culminates at with 2 nights at the giant O2 arena. To help promote the events, they’ve created this piece below (presumably produced by Passion Pictures), which introduces both the real artists in the band, across from their virtual counterparts. I personally prefer the 2D versions of the band members, but this CG stuff ain’t so bad either. And yes, that’s Mick Jones of The Clash strutting in. He played rhythm guitar on Plastic Beach and is touring with the group.

Ryan Reynolds Gets Suited Up In 'Green Lantern' Set Pic!

Earlier this week we got our first look at Peter Sarsgaard in costume on the set of "Green Lantern," but what about the film's star, Ryan Reynolds? We know he won't recite the Green Lantern oath for us, but what everyone's really wondering is what he'll look like when he suits up as Hal Jordan.

Well, we're psyched to say we've got a pic from the set of "Green Lantern" that, while it doesn't show Reynolds in full-on costume, it does provide an indication of how that costume will be created for the big screen — and some confirmation of rumors we've heard previously.

In the following photo provided to MTV News, Reynolds is seen zipping up a full motion-capture suit on the set of "Green Lantern," indicating some heavy CGI could indeed be used to bring the DC hero's emerald-hued costume to life.

Previously, "Green Lantern" co-writer and producer Greg Berlanti said the film's team was "on lockdown" about the look they're going for with the live-action Hal Jordan, though DC Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns seemed to confirm that Reynolds' costume will be more CGI than actual clothing.

One thing we know for sure, however, is that the film's female lead, Blake Lively, won't wear Star Sapphire's "pink bodysuit" any time soon.

Oh, and you know what question is really bugging me after seeing that "Green Lantern" set pic? What's up with the adorable little dog by Reynolds' feet? (I really want to believe the dog is playing Ch'P.)

'Heroes' Canceled?

It looks like NBC might do the one thing Sylar never could: eliminate the "Heroes."

According to New York Magazine there are indications that "Heroes" will not be brought back for a fifth season. While there have been rumors that "Heroes" would return with 13 new episodes to wrap up the series, the latest report indicates that NBC is very happy with their upcoming programming slate and notes that the network has already placed orders for five new series in the fall.

However, the report also indicates that "Heroes" might return as a two or four-hour movie to give the fans of the series some closure. Although it also mentions that NBC has yet to bring up this possibility to "Heroes" creator Tim Kring.

"Heroes" debuted on NBC in 2006 with impressive ratings and featured Milo Ventimiglia, Greg Grunberg, Adrian Pasdar, Hayden Panettiere, Masi Oka, Leonard Roberts and Ali Larter as ordinary people who suddenly found themselves gifted with extraordinary superpowers.

However, the audience began to erode during the second season and continued to fall in subsequent seasons for a variety of reasons.

Earlier this year, Kring spoke out about the creative difficulties "Heroes" encountered due to network interference.

"It becomes very hard to kill off certain characters," said Kring. "The network has a very strong say in this, because of actors who are under contract and do publicity for them. It's not just up to the writers to decide."

As an example, Splash Page examined the many deaths of Nathan Petrelli on "Heroes," when Adrian Pasdar left the series last fall.

The final fate of "Heroes" will be revealed when NBC unveils its fall schedule later this month.

ABC goes superhero and picks up No Ordinary Family

(Image from SorozatGuru)

Regardless of what happens with NBC's Heroes, a new group of superheroes will grace our TV screens this fall now that ABC has picked up No Ordinary Family.

The superhero family action series stars Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four) and Dexter's Julie Benz as a dad and mom, who, along with their kids, develop superpowers after a plane crash in the Amazon River. No Ordinary Family comes from Greg Berlanti (Eli Stone) and Jon Feldman (Tru Calling) and also stars Kay Panabaker, Jimmy Bennett, Tate Donovan and Autumn Reeser, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog.

Here's the official extended description:

The Powells are about to go from ordinary to extraordinary. After 16 years of marriage, Jim and Stephanie's relationship lacked the spark it once had, and their family life now consists of balancing work and their two children; leaving little time for family bonding. During a family vacation set up by Jim in an attempt to reconnect, their plane crashes into the Amazon River. But this is where the fun starts for the Powells as they soon discover that something's not quite right. Each of them now possesses unique and distinct super powers. But saving and savoring their family life will be equally important as they try to find purpose for their new power and embark on a journey to find out what defines and unifies them. The Powells are a totally relatable family that happens to be a little bit amazing.

In other new series news, while NBC may not have given any love to Heroes or Chuck yet, the network did pick up the conspiracy thriller The Event, which may or may not have sci-fi elements to it.

Here's the logline for the new series:

The Event is an emotional high-octane conspiracy thriller that follows Sean Walker (Jason Ritter, The Class), an Everyman who investigates the mysterious disappearance of his fiancée, Leila (Sarah Roemer, Disturbia), and unwittingly begins to expose the biggest cover-up in U.S. history. Sean's quest will send ripples through the lives of an eclectic band of strangers, including: newly elected U.S. President Martinez (Blair Underwood, Dirty Sexy Money); Sophia (Emmy Award nominee Laura Innes, ER), who is the leader of a mysterious group of detainees; and Sean's shadowy father-in-law (Scott Patterson, Gilmore Girls). Their futures are on a collision course in a global conspiracy that could ultimately change the fate of mankind. Ian Anthony Dale (Daybreak) and Emmy winner Željko Ivanek (Damages) also star in the ensemble drama. The Event is a production of Universal Media Studios and Steve Stark Productions. Stark (Medium) serves as executive producer, Nick Wauters (The 4400, Eureka) is creator/co-executive producer and Jeffrey Reiner (Friday Night Lights) is the director/executive producer.

And there's more to come. Next week all the networks will announce their final pickups and renewals at their 2010 broadcast network upfront presentations to the press and advertisers. We'll bring you full coverage, so stay tuned.

What do you think? Are you psyched about these shows, or do they sound like a snooze?

Did Iron Man 2 Hint at Namor The Sub Mariner?

Contrary to popular belief, the Prince of Atlantis fits very neatly into the slate of superhero films Marvel Studios is releasing. Was Iron Man 2 the character's subtle feature film introduction?

The debate amongst comic book fans on whether Namor, the Prince of Atlantis, will be featured in an upcoming Marvel Studios film became heated once Captain America director Joe Johnston announced that the WWII superhero team the Invaders would be showcased in the the entire second half of his film.

According to comic book canon, Namor the Sub Mariner was one of the founding and longstanding members of the team. But that's not the only time Marvel's "first mutant" can fit into the studio's newly established cinematic universe.

I strongly believe that Iron Man 2 provided numerous references to the character. Since we all know how Marvel likes to expand on their hidden Easter eggs down the road, I don't doubt that we will see several more before Namor makes his debut in Captain America: The First Avenger.

Let's take a look at these references and note their significance to Marvel continuity:


Oracle Communications is a real world company and sponsor of Marvel Studios' Iron Man 2. They were so heavily involved with promoting the film that they created their own corresponding viral marketing campaign.

In the film itself, Oracle logos were spotted throughout the Stark Expo. The most prominent being the giant dome where the final battle between Iron Man, War Machine, Whiplash and the Hammer drones took place. Oracle's CEO even had a cameo at the beginning of the movie, where he introduced himself and his company to Tony Stark.

In the Marvel Comics world, Prince Namor collected sunken treasures of Atlantis to finance his purchase of a corporation he renamed Oracle, Inc. Under the guise of an international businessman (even taking the surname McKenzie), he used Oracle to sponsor environmental care.

2) S.H.I.E.L.D. 'Target' Map

During the penultimate scene of Iron Man 2, Tony Stark meets with S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury to discuss his tentative place in the superhero team the Avengers. Their meeting was surrounded by four holographic screens, each displaying different events taking place in the Marvel movie timeline. The first showed the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo, the second showed a news broadcast of the Hulk's rampage at Culver University, the third showed the crater Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, made when landing in New Mexico, and the fourth had a world map with different areas of interest highlighted.

The map displayed what could easily be surmised to be sightings of the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Black Panther. One area pinpointed over Europe could be a reference to either Captain America's enemy the Red Skull, or his English ally Union Jack. The final area of interest on the map was off of the Eastern coast of Brazil. Could this be the assumed location of the undersea continent of Atlantis?

Almost, but not quite. When comparing the movie image to Marvel's map of Atlantis and it's surroundings, it actually shows that the area is Namor's private quarters; his 'Fortress of Solitude,' if you don't mind the cross-reference. It is located outside of the boundaries of Atlantis itself, which appears to be roughly the size of Australia and located directly off the Eastern coast of North America.

3) Atlantis Discovered?

I have yet to confirm this reference 100%. Though I've seen the film four times, I can never get a close enough look to make out exactly what this image says. What I do know is that I saw a newspaper clipping on Ivan Vanko's workshop wall in Russia. On that clipping I saw two surfaced submarines and the word "Atlantis."

Unfortunately, unless one of you can find a way to clarify the images from this scene, I'll have to wait for it to be released in stores before acquiring a transcription of the paragraph.

If you think that Namor would only have a place in a Captain America film, you're very mistaken. During the Iron Man comic arc, Demon in a Bottle, Namor has a predominant role and even has to battle against the Iron Avenger. That story arc will surely be used for the film Iron Man 3, since the key elements in it have already been introduced to audiences: Tony Stark's alcoholism, Roxxon Oil, vibranium, War Machine, Whiplash and Justin Hammer.

Do you happen to know how Captain America was found after being stuck in suspended animation for decades? His old Invaders teammate unknowingly threw a block of ice containing the frozen hero into the ocean; where he he was soon found the modern superhero team the Avengers. Let's not forget that Namor was also one of The Avengers' first enemies. An Avengers film showcasing the Atlantis Attacks story line would be a very popular adaptation, due to the worldwide appeal of the Lost City.

The only two problems that I feel would minimize Namor's chances of appearing on screen would be logistical issues due to the character/film rights, and popularity amongst comic fans; which Marvel does take into consideration for their films. Marvel's senior executive Kevin Feige seemed to have cleared the first problem up last week during an interview with When asked which studios own which character's rights, Feige specifically noted that "Universal [Studios] doesn’t have anything." Universal was the studio planning a Namor solo movie up until 2009, when both a tentative script and director fell through. The second problem I foresee is popularity within the comic movie community of fans. Apparently there should be no worries there. In a recent poll conducted right here on ComicBookMovie, which asked which Invader character should most definitely appear in Captain America: The First Avenger, the Prince of Atlantis claimed over 755 votes; which accumulates to 49% of the total vote count.

At this point, I don't have any doubt we will see Namor appear in multiple Marvel Studios films. Unless a studio representative comes out with a contradictory statement, the only thing I am waiting for is a casting announcement.

(Thanks Comic Book Movie)

Great Fan Made Wonder Woman Movie Trailer!

A MUST SEE for any Wonder Woman fan!

While us Wonder Woman fans wait anxiously to see our favorite hero brought to the big screen, we have this little tidbit to tide us over. If you just use your imagination a little, you can totally see how a Wonder Woman movie could work today. I hope Lynda sees this!

Of course, NOW she'll be out-flying those planes and deflecting missles as well as bullets! Here's your blueprint DC, now get on it already! What do you guys think?

(Thanks Comic Book Movie)

10 least heroic actions by sci-fi's greatest action heroes

Tony Stark may be a superhero, but he's more than just a superhero. In addition to operating his personal weapon of mass destruction while drunk—which is not the mere lapse of judgment it appeared to be in Iron Man 2, but a frequent occasion documented by many, many comics—he is also infamous for spearheading a government crackdown of superheroes that led to many being imprisoned without trial, a Civil War fought in protest, and the unfortunate rise to power of a murderous megalomaniac white man who styled his hair in cornrows.

But he is not the only "hero" whose actions have been far from heroic. Check out the following examples.

Note: These do not include crimes committed under duress, or those conducted under evil influences.

Batman (1989)
Unheroic Act: Batman Exploits His Superior Firepower

Forget the scene where he blows up the poison gas factory and thus, to anybody capable of putting two and two together, subjects Gotham to the worst chemical disaster since Bhopal.

Shortly after that, in what may be the least intrepid and least effective act ever committed by a so-called superhero, the armored man in the state-of-the-art flying machine strafes the Joker's gang from the air, perforating a number of them but completely failing to hit the main clown himself. The Joker then pulls an absurdly long-barreled gun out of his pants and shoots the Dark Knight out of the sky on his very first attempt.

Aside from the Freudian implication that Batman's impotent and the Joker is not, the only reasonable conclusion to draw from this scene is that Bruce Wayne is just a billionaire who could afford to buy himself "all those wonderful toys" but cannot be bothered to learn how to use them.

The Adventures of Superman: "The Stolen Costume" (1952)
Unheroic Act: Superman Murders Two Crooks Through His Own Depraved Indifference

When a petty criminal on the run from police takes cover in Clark Kent's apartment, he finds the mild-mannered reporter's Superman suit in a hidden compartment in the back of the closet. The show takes special care to establish why Clark isn't wearing the red-and-blue long johns under his street clothes that day, so that's all well and good; what's not is how Superman deals with the pair of low-level criminals who ultimately get their hands on it and figure out that Superman and Clark are one and the same.

To save his secret identity from these would-be blackmailers, he flies them to a remote, frozen mountaintop and abandons them there, assuring them he'll bring food on a regular basis until he figures out what to do with them. The terrified crooks promptly try to climb down the sheer cliff by themselves and fall to their deaths.

And how does the man with powers of a God react to this? With a grin of relief and a wink at the camera. What a nice guy.

Superman II (1980)
Unheroic Act: Superman Carries a Grudge Once He's on Top

There's no getting around this: Superman is a guy with nigh-infinite strength who nevertheless punches people in the face on a regular basis. But most of the people he punches are active threats to life and limb at the time.

General Zod was a bully and a world-conquering despot, but once he was exposed to the red-sun radiation his powers were gone; even if the moment made audiences cheer, it was still awfully bad form for Superman to demonstrate his victory by first breaking every bone in Zod's hand and then then tossing him into an icy pit where, we're led to believe, he would soon die of cold, or hunger, or the injuries suffered in the fall. Moreover, Clark then makes a special trip back to the diner where his temporarily powerless self lost a fight with a bully, to pick another fight with that bully and beat the living crap out him.

The guy deserved it—and audiences cheered again—but you're Superman, dude. You're supposed to be better than that.

Escape From New York, (1981)
Unheroic Act: Snake Plissken Dooms Us All for the Sake of a Cheap Joke

Granted, he's had a rough day. Granted, he's been forced on a mission he never wanted; granted, he's just had a walk through hell; granted, the president whose life he just saved is at best an empty suit. Also granted, he never pretended to be a hero.

But he was also told that the cassette tape he needed to pull from the prison that's been made of Manhattan Island is the last, best hope to avoid a catastrophe. Just because he's pissed off, he replaces it with Cabbie's cassette of swing music ... and is last seen striding away from the president's gross humiliation, destroying the tape and thus dooming us all to armageddon.

This act, dooming any number of people who, unlike the president, never hurt Plissken in any way, may be the most sociopathic deed ever committed by anybody we were ever encouraged to root for ... and it only earned him a sequel.

Moonraker (1979)
Unheroic Act: James Bond Takes a Break From Saving the World to Amuse Himself

The James Bond of the movies is another guy who doesn't have the greatest reverence for life. He often kills villains in some clever way, sometimes after he's disarmed them and they no longer pose an ongoing threat. Then he makes a quip. Why not? He works hard and deserves to get some enjoyment out of his job (not that his unlimited expense account and all those rapturous women don't already provide him with sufficient recompense).

But taking precious time to kill a villain he has already mortally wounded in some manner more amusing to him, when the world is in imminent danger of annihilation, is a bridge too far. At the end of Moonraker, which takes place aboard a huge orbital station, the entire population of the world is in danger of annihilation from Hugo Drax's nerve gas. Bombs have already been launched toward the atmosphere. Then Bond gets the drop on Drax with a cyanide-tipped dart, rendering him helpless ... and even though there's no time to lose, with millions of lives at stake, he jauntily and unhurriedly leads the dying man into the airlock and ejects him into space.

Gee, it's a good thing this world crisis could make your day more interesting, James.

Armageddon (1998)
Unheroic Act: Bruce Willis Holds Up the World for a Break on His Taxes

You know all those heroes from old westerns who'd save the schoolmarm from Black Bart and then refuse all reward before they rode off into the sunset? Harry Stamper (Willis) didn't.

Told that the world needed the expertise of his drilling team in order to plant the explosives that would blow in half the asteroid about to impact Earth, Stamper and his team hold out for the goodies ... a series of petty requests that culminates in his stony-faced demand for a permanent total income tax exemption for himself and his crew. Stamper may know that he has the United States government and all of humanity over a barrel, but this is, by precise definition, scumbucket behavior, especially for a guy who claims to love his daughter.

We're glad he blew himself up.

Daredevil (2003)
Unheroic Act: Daredevil Commits Murder to Avenge Losing a Case as Matt Murdock

Defense attorney Matt Murdock loses a court case against a rapist. Since he is a defense attorney representing the victim, the only possible explanation is that this is a civil case following a failed criminal prosecution ... or that the screenwriters have no idea how the criminal justice system works.

Despite the considerably lower standard of evidence of civil cases, Murdock loses ... and subsequently stalks the bad guy as Daredevil, driving the perv onto railroad tracks where he is mowed down, screaming, by an oncoming train. Daredevil naturally makes no move to save him. This is supposed to endear him to us.

We cannot help wondering, however, whether he was more concerned by that poor young woman's offended virtue ... or by his own humiliation as an attorney. Frankly, we think it's ego.

Robocop (1987)
Unheroic Act: Robocop Acts Like a Big Tin-Plated Bully

Just about everything in Robocop's M.O., whenever not faced with a foe of equivalent physical abilities, is difficult to reconcile with heroism. Encased in a suit of bulletproof armor and granted enough strength to throw bad guys through the air, he nevertheless carries a gun and perforates as many as possible.

Since the vast majority of them pose no threat to him, even when their intentions are intensely homicidal, his willingness to shoot them amounts to using a howitzer against bad guys who have nothing but pea-shooters. Granted, much of what he does in the first film can be written off as programming, but he regains his soul by the time that film ends, and he returns in the sequels to abuse his physical advantages against every criminal he encounters.

Say what you will about Superman's lapses ...he didn't make a regular habit of kneecapping guys.

The Matrix (1999)
Unheroic Act: Neo Slaughters a Lobby Filled With Innocent Security Guards, And Isn't Bothered at All

Yes, the scene where Neo and Trinity storm the lobby of the building where Morpheus is being held captive is indeed one of the coolest set pieces of the film, and yes, they had a reason to be there, and yes, the movie does take pains to establish why sparing innocent bystanders is not possible in this particular world.

Recognizing all that, Neo and Trinity still walk into a lobby filled with guys who are just doing their jobs and slaughter them en masse, in a beautifully choreographed but still murderous ballet of absolute carnage. As much as the film labors to defend the necessity of their actions, it would have been nice if Neo or Trinity or anybody involved showed enough human compassion to at least feel bad about what they had to do, for as long as a single dialogue line.

But no: what they did looked cool, and the movie was just graceless enough to give the impression that it felt cool.

V for Vendetta (2006)
Unheroic Act: V Imprisons and Tortures a Young Girl Who Trusted Him

The original graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd recognized that its masked vigilante, who is known only as V, may be nothing more than a crazed, inhuman sociopathic redeemed only by a time and place that can only benefit from a little anarchy. The Wachowski brothers' movie labors hard to retain this interpretation, but on-screen derring-do is still easy to mistake for actual heroism.

This is nowhere more disturbing than during the sequence where young Evey (Natalie Portman) endures days of imprisonment and torture, believing her captors to be the totalitarian government ... only to emerge from her cell and discover that it was V, playing with her head all along. The best thing you could say about this is that, unlike the other examples of this list, it was placed before us by creators who knew that this was seriously messed up.

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