We must sadly note the passing of Jim Thurman, an Emmy-award winning children’s television writer, who died April 14 at age 72.
I had the pleasure to meet Jim several times in New York about 12 years ago. He was a great big funny guy with a deep “radio announcer” voice. He was working for Children’s Television Workshop at the time, but I was more interested in asking him about his work as co-writer of every episode of Roger Ramjet. With Gene Moss he also wrote and provided voices for Ramjet and Shrimpenstein, a fondly remembered local children’s show in Los Angeles during the late 1960s.
Thurman and Moss originally teamed to form a boutique ad agency, Creative Advertising Stuff and they eventually wrote material for Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart. After Ramjet, Thurman wrote for Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and 321 Contact. He also performed voices such as Sesame Street‘s “Teeny Little Super Guy.”
Jerry Beck, Alan Greenfield, Will Friedwald, Mark Mayerson probably inspecting the soundtrack of Bosko’s Picture Show (circa 1978)
While I’ve dedicated my life to continued research and writing about animated cartoons, my erstwhile colleague Will Friedwald (co-author of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and Warner Bros. Animation Art) has made quite a name for himself as a noted jazz historian, critic and producer. Author of several outstanding books on the likes of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, Will made news this week by proclaiming he has the world’s largest iTunes collection.
I have no idea if his claim is true, but back in the day no one was as fiercely determined to collect information and data on classic cartoons as Will (Note the images of Baby Huey and The Ghostly Trio on his t-shirt). Animation’s loss is jazz music’s gain. Check out his regular writings in The New York Sun.
Youth Opportunities United (aka YOU) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of abused and neglected children in Los Angeles. Each year they hold a series of animation seminars and workshops for several hundred teenagers on the 20th Century-Fox lot in Century City.
Matt Groening, Stan Lee, David Silverman, Bruce Smith, Don Bluth, Dan Castellaneta and many other big names have contributed their time and talents to this event in the past. The 16th annual Animagination Festival (open only to teens in L.A. foster care) is being held on Saturday June 16th. The organizers are looking for several more artists, animators and designers to help with the hands-on art and design workshops this year. If you can help, please contact Mary Ledding (323-465-7797 or ledfam6384-at-sbcglobal.net) or Sandy Bradley (310-558-3366 or bradley_design-at-yahoo.com).
Diogo Kalil, an art director and animator from Brazil, currently living in Santa Monica, California, is looking to change his professional focus and move from advertising into other filmmaking opportunities. To that end he’s posted his new reel on his website and it’s quite good. Says Kalil, “I work with 3D and 2D software, and like to play with stop motion and cel animation.” I really like his work and hope he’ll keep us posted on his future plans.
Van Eaton Gallery Thursday night, 4.19.07, 9:30pm
Van Eaton Gallery Thursday night, 4.19.07, 9:45pm
Last night’s Book Look at the Van Eaton Gallery in Sherman Oaks. Top photo is Mike Van Eaton himself, showing off a new acquistion: a background painting from Pluto Junior (1942). Bottom photo is of J.B. Kaufman and Russell Merritt, authors of Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies (a must-have new book).
Over 200 people attended, with a large crowd continuously in store from 6pm until after 10pm. Mike is hoping to turn this into an annual or bi-annual event. Authors in attendance included Nancy Beiman, Tom Sito, Steve Gordon, Stephen Silver, Dean Yeagle, Joe Adamson and Martha Sigall. A great time was had by all. Thanks to all the Brew readers who stopped by to say hello.
Universal Studios’ Woody Woodpecker & Friends Classic Cartoon Collection DVD is now available to pre-order on Amazon – where it’s a steal at $27.99.
In addition to the 75 restored, uncut cartoons, there will be several juicy bonus materials, including:
Walter, Woody and the World of Animation a nice little 1975 documentary featuring Walter and his wife Gracie, discussing their careers in animation, filled with great clips.
Cartoonland Mysteries – a rare 1936 Lowell Thomas “Going Places” short subject showing step by step how the Lantz studio makes an animated short – in this case an Oswald Rabbit cartoon, Soft Ball Game. Restored from the original neg.
Behind-the-Scenes with Walter Lantz – six of the great Lantz segments from the 1957 Woody Woodpecker TV show explaining how they make cartoons – restored, in beautiful Technicolor.
1. The Origin of Woody Woodpecker (from Episode #1)
2. Drawing Woody and Andy (from Episode #5)
3. Creating the Stories (from Episode #6)
4. Animating Woody (from Episode #8)
5. The Development of Woody (from Episode #9)
6. Directing Animated Cartoons (from Episode #10)
“The Woody Woodpecker Show” Special 1964 Halloween Episode, Spook-A-Nanny – rarely seen, now restored, featuring all the Lantz characters in a strange made-for-TV one shot.
I was driving south on Cahuenga this afternoon and snapped this pic from my moving car with my cell phone. The signage was just erected. It’s official: The former Hanna-Barbera Studio is now an LA Fitness location.
Popeye is one of those properties that is such a pure cartoon, any attempt to personify him in live action simply does not work. Even three dimensional Popeye toys have a history of looking grotesque – in a fun way.
Any Baby Boomers out there recall those odd foreign cartoons that ran on TV in the 1950s and 60s, packaged under the Capt’n Sailorbird or Bozo Storybook names?
Toon Tracker has some information… but the burning question is: Where are these cartoons today?
The cartoons were usually rich and lush, and animated on ones. The original soundtracks were usually stripped off and replaced by an unnecessary narrator. But they were pretty cool.
An anonymous blogger has posted on Kino en Esperanto rete a group of very attractive animated shorts from 1951-3 based on folktales from Russia and various Asian countries. They look a lot like the stuff of Capt’n Sailorbird. These films are subtitled in Esperanto (as is the rest of the site), but if you can get past the language, our benefactor has the full films available for streaming and download. There is some bizzare stuff here.
Animator Dan Meth (of Hebrew Crunk fame) just completed an animation experiment. He animated his latest film while getting drunk in a local pub.
Dan went out to a bar with, as he says on his blog, “a stack of index-cards, some markers, a lightbox, and no storyboard”. He drew and drank himself silly, all the while covering over 300 cards with drawings for a short film he’s completing this week, part of a new Frederator shorts series of one minute cartoons.
He’s post all 329 drawings on a Flickr page for everyone to see in advance of the film. Don’t know if anyone’s posted any archive like this before, or used Flickr to create an animated film, but it sure seems like a good idea to me.
Charles Shopsin has been semi-regularly posting old articles on early cartoon production, from 1920s-1930s science and mechanics magazines, on his Modern Mechanics blog. Some of these we’ve plugged before, but they are worth compiling here again for easy reference:
Eric Pigors has worked at Disney Feature animation for fifteen years. He’s also contributed his art to Family Dog, Ed, Edd and Eddy and made his own demented Liquid TV cartoon short, Let’s Chop Soo-E, with Marv Newland’s International Rocketship.
But Pigor’s heart has been in creating his own world and expanding his Toxictoons empire, with a website showcasing his macabre art, toys, T-shirts, stickers, and so on. He’s got an artshow coming up at the Hyaena Gallery in Burbank April 16th-30th, and you can meet the mind behind the madness at the reception on Friday April 20th at 8pm.
No, this isn’t a frame from the forthcoming digital restoration of the Max Fleischer Popeye cartoons. It’s an actual production cel and background from Let’s You and Him Fight (1934).
Original art from Fleischer cartoons is scarce, but this cel and hundreds of other super-rare pop culture artifacts are on permanent display at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore Maryland. I haven’t visted the place myself, but I just recieved a copy of the beautiful souvenir book, Pop Culture with Character and if this book is any indication, Geppi’s Museum is a place I must visit next time I’m on the East Coast.
It’s the history of pop culture told through artifacts and mementos dating back to the early 1800s and continuing up through 2007′s Spongebob and Shrek. The book is a catalog of cool stuff, and I can only imagine that seeing this memorabilia in person, at the museum, would be mind blowing. Thanks Mr. Geppi for collecting this material and sharing it with us.
I’m very happy to announce that Universal is releasing The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection on July 24th. This new DVD collection includes three discs containing 75 theatrical cartoons, completely uncut and restored from the original Universal Pictures master negatives (and I promise, no DVNR). It’ll retail at $39.98.
In addition to the first 45 Woody Woodpecker cartoons–presented in original release order–from Knock Knock (1940) to The Great Who-Dood-It (1952), the first five Chilly Willy cartoons (which includes two Tex Avery classics), and five choice Andy Panda cartoons, there will be several Swing Symphonies (including Culhane’s Abu Ben Boogie and The Greatest Man In Siam, among others), Oswald Rabbit (Confidence, Hell’s Heels, Oscar nominee Merry Old Soul and others) and wartime cartoons (like Pigeon Patrol and Pass The Biscuits Mirandy).
That’s not all. Miscellanous Walter Lantz Cartunes (like Hysterical High Spots in American History, Pooch the Pup in King Klunk, Peterkin in Scrambled Eggs, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B and the Avery masterpieces, Crazy Mixed Up Pup and SHH-H-H-H-H) plus bonus material including six Behind-the-Scenes with Walter Lantz segments from the 1957 Woody Woodpecker Show and the rarely seen Halloween TV special Spook-a-Nanny.
And there’s more. I’ll impart further information in future posts, but for now let’s just say our friends at Universal did this one right. Plan on adding this to your collection–you won’t regret it.
A few days ago, Walt Disney World in Orlando re-opened the boat ride in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot Center. They have added a Three Caballeros storyline to the ride featuring new animation of Jose Carioca and Panchito on a search for Donald through Mexico. LaughingPlace.com has posted a complete tour of the attraction in still pictures. And naturally, someone took home video (Windows Media) of the ride.
The animation looks terrificÃ¢â‚¬”I believe our friend Eric Goldberg directed these pieces. Is that Rob Paulsen as Jose Caroica?
ASIFA-Hollywood is presenting two animation events this month well worth your time and participation.
Bill Plympton: On Wednesday night April 11th, at 7pm, I’ll be moderating a Q&A with independent animator extraordinaire, Bill Plympton. Bill is in town to promote the opening of his feature film Hair High on April 13th at Laemmle’s Sunset 5. The ASIFA screening on Wednesday will highlight some of Bill’s latest cartoons and music videos including The Fan and the Flower, Gary Guitar, as well as a sneek peak at Hair High and the premiere of a brand new short. The screening and Q&A will be on the Dreamworks campus and to get in you must RSVP by tomorrow (Tuesday 4/10) at publicity-at-asifa-hollywood.org.
The Stop-Mo Expo: Will Vinton, Corky Quakenbush , the Chiodo Bros., Mark Caballero, Seamus Walsh, Jim Aupperle, Tennessee Reid Norton, Gene Warren Jr., Randy Cook and a host of other puppet and clay luminaries will descend on Woodbury University in Burbank, on Saturday April 21st 2007, for a one day cerebration of all things stop motion. From 9am to 10pm there will be non-stop panels, screenings, how-to seminars and schmoozing. In the evening there’s a film festival of rare, classic and current stop-motion animation. There will also be an all-day display of stop-mo props, puppets and models. All tickets will be sold at the door. For more information click here.
Rich Drees at FilmBuffOnline.com reports that Roy Disney, speaking at the Philadelphia Film Festival this past weekend, made it clear that a home video release of Song of the South is long overdue. Said Roy:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got a bunch of cohorts working with me to convince the powers that be that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the smart thing to do. [Song Of The South] is a wonderful film that deserves to be back out in the public. All it needs is context. Some of that animation is stunning, even by todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s standards.Ã¢â‚¬?
In the meantime, for those who can’t wait, Disney has apparently released SOTS in France, in English, and was selling it at Disneyland Paris! Check this out. (This turned out to be a bootleg.)
Okay, this post is only for rabid Warner Bros. cartoon fans desparate to see any lost bits and pieces of animation created by the original animation studio.
On Memorial Day Weekend in 1962, Warner Bros. released a family film, Lad: A Dog which featured, on the same bill, the Chuck Jones pilot-turned-half hour featurette The Adventures Of The Road Runner. According to the film’s pressbook there were four different Technicolor theatrical trailers for LAD: A DOG – two of them featuring special animation of Bugs Bunny.
Trailer 1-A contained Bugs introducing the Lad: A Dog stars. Trailer 1-C is a special Adventures of the Road Runner trailer introduced by Bugs Bunny. There were two b/w TV spots which were shortened versions of the two theatrical trailers. I’ve just obtained one of the TV spots and, as you can see below, the brief animated inserts were produced by Chuck Jones’ unit (note the Maurice Noble background layout). Mel Blanc provides the voice characterization. Ed Prentiss narrates the trailer.
Jones left the studio in July 1962. This must be some of last Bugs Bunny animation produced before the studio ceased producing new Looney Tunes later that year. With any luck, we’ll dig up the longer, color theatrical trailers – and include them on a future Golden Collection DVD set.
In Gina Piccalo’s carefully worded puff piece in today’s LA Times Sunday Calendar section (“Aqua Teen Jumps to Big Screen”, April 8th, 2007), even the one die-hard Hunger Force fan they got to go on record, Chuck Warren of Long Beach, couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for the so-called “colon movie”:
Aside from the band of drunk frat guys next to them, Warren said the crowd response was pretty tame. As far as the film itself, Warren considered it just another poke in the ribs from Maiellaro and Willis.
“It’s them saying it doesn’t matter,” he said. “As a fan, I kind of liked that. They threw it all in your face and you had to take what you wanted.”
The LA Times article is typical of the kind of publicity stories placed by the movie studios each week, prior to a film’s release, in hopes of generating some box office numbers on opening day. But even by puff piece standards (which are pretty low), this one has a hard time marshaling anything positive to say about the film. (It was reviewed on the Brew, March 17th)
The jist of the piece is that AQHF-C-MFFT is a feature film is based on a TV “cult” hit that, before the Boston bomb scare incident, most people never heard of. And that most viewers either love it or hate it.
Ms. Piccalo has seen the movie, and you don’t have to read between the lines to get the idea that she is warning you to stay away. She sums it all up in this one sentence: “To an outsider, this is either self-indulgent bad writing or fodder for bong hits and acid trips.”
Russell Schroeder has written and self-published an eye-opening (and ear-opening) book on the unused music for Disney films (both animated and live-action). The book, called Disney’s Lost Chords, is being published in a limited edition of 1000 copies, and is available solely from the author. The book features 77 (mostly) unheard songs and is illustrated with over 200 pieces of never before published developmental art.
Disney’s Lost Chords presents the Vocal/Piano arrangements for 77 unused songs originally written such classic Disney films as Song of the South, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time, So Dear to My Heart, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, The Story of Anyburg, U.S.A., Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book. As an added bonus this volume includes musical numbers from several projects like Rainbow Road to Oz and Chanticler that were eventually shelved after initial development. The cover art (by Mary Blair, at left) was created in 1948 for a souvenir program for an event benefiting the Hospitalized Veterans Music Service of the Musicians’ Emergency Fund.
Musician and Disney historian Alex Rannie has seen the book and has this to say:
Disney music is an area of personal interest and expertise; I’ve read most all there is to read about music at the Studio. But nothing could prepare me for the depth of research and breadth of artistry in Russell Schroeder’s book. I can’t offer enough praise for Russell’s labor of love, and once word gets out, Disney’s Lost Chords is going to disappear faster than you can say “Bob’s your uncle!”
DISNEY’S LOST CHORDS
Hardcover, 9 1/4 x 12 1/4
312 pp., illus.
A Limited, Numbered, Edition of1000 copies
Available only through:
2055 Lower Tuskeegee Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771
Our friend Bob Bergen, the versatile voice actor, is reprising his one-man show Not Just Another Pretty Voice! (The Story of A Nice Jewish Boy Who Wanted To Be Porky Pig) every Wednesday night at 8:00PM, from April 25-May 30 at the Stella Adler Theater in Hollywood.
Bergen can be heard in hundreds of commercials, cartoons, TV shows and movies. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best known for playing Porky/Eager Young Space Cadet in the TV series Duck Dodgers. He was heard as Porky Pig, Tweety, and Speedy Gonzales in the 2006 WB holiday film, Bah, Humduck, and plays Bucky in DisneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s animated series, The EmperorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s New School.
Reservations for Ã¢â‚¬Å“Not Just Another Pretty Voice!Ã¢â‚¬? can be made by calling (323) 960-5771 or www.plays411.com. Tickets are $20. The Stella Adler Theater is located at 6773 Hollywood Boulevard, second floor. Parking is available at Hollywood and Highland for $2 with theatre validation.
Two upcoming John Canemaker events in the New York area:
The Tribeca Film Festival will salute the animator with The Animated World of John Canemaker, a program of shorts and documentaries spanning his career as a filmmaker, author, teacher and historian. Films in the program include: Confessions of a Stardreamer; Bridgehampton; The Wizard’s Son; Bottom’s Dream; Otto Messmer and Felix the Cat and the Academy Award-winning The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation. Monday, April 30, 6:15 p.m. and Sunday, May 6, 10:30 a.m. at AMC Kips Bay Theater 14, 570 Second Avenue (at 32nd St.) and Thursday, May 3, at midnight at the Tribeca Cinemas, Theater 2, 54 Varick Street (Below Canal Street, at Laight Street).
From April 16th through May 23rd a display of hand-drawn, original animation art from CanemakerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Academy Award-winning film The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, will be on display in the Hewitt Gallery of Art at Marymount Manhattan College, located at 221 East 71st Street. On Thursday, April 19, 2007, at 7:00 P.M. there will be a reception for the artist at the Hewitt Gallery. It is preceded at 5:30 P.M. by a screening of THE MOON AND THE SON at the Beekman Theatre, which is located at 1271 Second Avenue between 66th and 67th Streets. This event is free of charge for all attendees.
Our friends at the Van Eaton Gallery are hosting an event that I want to invite you all to. On Thursday, April 19, 2007 from 6:00pm-10:00 pm the gallery is hosting a gathering of animation book authors for a meet-and-greet, book signing and I think a panel discussion. The gallery folks have gone out of their way to get many authors to attend, the guest list currently includes Tom Sito, Nancy Beiman, Dean Yeagle, Stephen Silver, Rik Maki, J.B. Kaufman, me, Mark Cotta Vaz, Disney Archivist Dave Smith, and several others to be announced. In addition to our books for sale, Stuart Ng will be bringing cool stuff from his incredible stash, and Van Eaton will have rare original animation art, related to the book topics, on display. And refreshments. Don’t forget the refreshments.
And it’s free. You have to RSVP because space is limited. More info here. At the Van Eaton Galleries, 13613 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 (818)788-2357. Doors will open promptly at 6:00 pm.
It was announced late Friday and posted on several other websites since: the Walt Disney Treasures will go on.
At least, for another year. This latest “wave” of releases are literally due to popular demand. Your voices were heard. In production for release on December 11th, 2007 are:
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Chronological Donald, Volume 3 Disneyland: Stories, Secrets, and Magic
Leonard Maltin is back as host and producer. Each volume is a limited edition. Chronological Donald, Volume 3 features Duck cartoons from 1947 onward which, combined with the previously released two volumes, will complete our collection of every one of Donald’s classic short films.
Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic is a “comprehensive look at the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Happiest Place on Earth.Ã¢â‚¬? The centerpiece is a new documentary with archival footage, including WaltÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own words, as well as new interviews, that reveal the secrets behind one of the worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most famous destinations.
The big prize in this group is the volume devoted to Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, Walt DisneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first animated star. Silent shorts made from 1926 to 1927 are revitalized with brand-new musical scores. This collection will also include Leslie Iwerks documentary about her grandfather Ub, The Hand Behind The Mouse.