As Amid is mired in deadline hell (see below) and I’m in the midst of a move (for the next three weeks), updating Cartoon Brew may be a bit spotty for the time being. Luckily with friends like Mark Mayerson and readers like Craig Harris, we will always have things to post.Mark sent me this link which is a very long, detailed account by Phil Vischer of the various problems that eventually killed Big Idea (The Veggie Tales company). Very interesting from a business and production standpoint.And Craig Harris has started a production blog for his promising 2-D short FRANKENBULB.
In the classic Looney Tune HIGH DIVING HARE (1949), Yosemite Sam — knocking loudly upon a door which has just been erected by Bugs Bunny — bellows, “Open the door!” Sam then takes a beat, and turns to us and says in a normal tone, “You’ll notice I didn’t say ‘Richard’.”For further background information about this gag’s dated reference, see David Hinckley’s article in today’s New York Daily News.(Thanks to B. Baker)
Saddened to hear of the passing of actor Mason Adams.He voiced Grandpa in Richard Williams’ RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY animated feature and was best known for his role as the editor Charlie Hume on the series LOU GRANT. Adams had a great voice (heard in many, many commercials) and was prolific in the golden age of radio drama. My favorite role of his was as “Atom Man” on the SUPERMAN radio show (I highly recommend the Radio Spirits CDs). It’s too bad he didn’t do more animation voice work.
Brew correspondant Steve Segal sends us a link to a San Francisco Chronicle article about Brad Bird, recently speaking at the San Francisco Film Festival. Steve was there and took some notes of his own:
He spoke rhapsodically about the communal movie going experience of days gone by, like waiting in line for the original Star Wars. He enjoys waiting in line, he understands the mindset of the people who are right now waiting in line for the final episode of Star Wars. He also related a story about seeing Spiderman 2 with his three sons opening day at midnight at one of the few single screen theatres left in the bay area. Days later his wife (a film person, “would I have anybody else”) was screaming at the projectionist of her hometown Vermont theatre because the film had a scratch through the entire film.He talked about the projection equipment called platters which allows an entire movie to be put on one reel. Wear is avoided by opening up the gate a little, which results in a slightly out of focus picture. Whereupon he went into his yokel impression, “Mr. Johnson sayed it wuz shot thet way”. He also dislikes commercials and congratulated audiences in LA who regularly boo at the commercials (not trailers, that’s part of the movie going experience, as long as they don’t give away too much of the plot). Googolplexes, as he calls them, has led to smaller screens, partly because of the well intentioned Americans with disabilities act, which stipulates that theatres with more than 300 seats must provide access for handicapped to every seat. The result being not better access, but smaller theatres. Bird reasoned you only need some of the seats to have that access not EVERY seat.He sees 3D (stereoscopic movies, not computer graphics) as a possible thwart to bootleggers, since the image is fuzzy if you don’t wear the glasses. So taking a video camera into the theatre wouldn’t work very well (I’m not sure if he’s given any thought to putting a lens from the glasses over the camera). He declared the new digital 3D projection the best 3D he’s ever seen, and even a clip from the original Star Wars, which had been converted from 2D to 3D, was “much better than you’d think”.In the Q & A he compared working on Iron Giant with being on the Titanic since Warners had already decided to close the studio, but it was as if they left the booze cabinet on the Titanic unlocked, “we could do anything we wanted, there was nobody around”. Warners was unprepared for the success and had no marketing in place. He was extremely complimentary of the three visionary geniuses at Pixar Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, and Steve Jobs. And mentioned when he decided to make Incredibles in wide screen Steve Jobs explained, very analytically, that there are many theatres where that will result in a smaller, not larger picture. He then complimented Jobs when he calmly accepted Bird’s decision to use wide screen. He pointed out that Lasseter’s Cars is also in wide screen When asked to do Edna he hesitated for a moment then said “You poosh to hard, dahling” and then mentioned interviewers who can’t believe he did the voice, or at least assume it’s somehow processed, so he must do the voice to convince them.
Saturday is Scrappy-Day in Hollywood, as Asifa-Hollywood presents a screening of brand new 35mm restoration prints of neglected 1930s cartoon icon Scrappy.The fun begins at 1pm when a an exhibit of rare Scrappy merchandise is put on display. This will be followed by a distinguished panel of Scrappy experts (including Jerry Beck, Harry McCracken (of Scrappyland.com), and Dr. Richard Huemer Jr.) who will ruminate on the merits of the greatest 1930s cartoon character that almost everybody has forgotten–the Mintz Studio’s Scrappy. A special performance by the Scrappy Puppet Theatre Players will then enact, live, a classic scene from a Scrappy cartoon!At 3pm: a rare screening of newly restored 35mm prints of classic Scrappy cartoons from the 1930s. Prints include the rarely seen promotional film for Scrappy’s Puppet Theatre as well as two cartoons unseen in over 70 years: The Beer Parade and Fare-Play (these two were banned from the syndicated Samba TV package – and contain unique original titles!). Prints courtesy of Columbia Pictures. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime (we guarantee that!) event!Saturday April 30th 1:00pm till 5:30pm Cartoons start at 3pm
The American Film Institute
TED ASHLEY/WARNER BROS. SCREENING ROOM
2021 N. Western Ave.
Hollywood, CAAsifa members FREE ADMISSION ($10. General public)
Well, I survived the income tax season – but now the missus and I are preparing to move during the month of May (less than a mile away). Thus more of my stuff is headed to ebay. Need the room and the extra cash for the move.So keep checking my ebay listings for cartoon rareties and bargains – like this so-ugly it’s-cool Looney Tunes frame tray “Super Brain Teaser” sliding puzzle (at right). Remember when cartoon merchandising art was this off-model?Ahh, those were the days!
From the San Francico Chronicle:James Robbins “Bob” Gardiner – Passed away April 21, 2005, in Grass Valley, California, where he resided from 1991 to 2005. He won an Oscar and other national and international awards in 1974, for the ground-breaking clay animated short film “Closed Mondays,” which he wrote, sculpted, directed and co-produced with Will Vinton.Bob’s career included art and music shows at venues around the northwest, numerous clay animated commercials and public service announcements, and other art projects in his adopted state of Oregon, where he lived for about 10 years.He worked as a comedy writer with his friend Mason Williams on two Smothers Brothers television specials and also on other writing and clay animation television projects. There will be a memorial on Saturday April 30, at 12 noon, at the Chapel of the Angels, 250 Race Street, Grass Valley, CA. There will also be a celebration of Bob’s art and life in Portland, Oregon, at a date yet to be announced.(Thanks to Karl Cohen for the link)
Brew correspondents Juan Alfonso and Jed Martinez went to the American Royal Arts Gallery in Fort Lauderdale FL, yesterday to celebrate Fleisher/Famous animator Myron Waldman (left) on his 97th birthday. Much to their surprise, voice actor Sid Raymond (Baby Huey, Katnip, et al. at right) was there too! Here are the exclusive photos courtesy of Juan & Jed. A short local interview with Myron appears here.
An incredible exhibit of vintage animation movie posters will go on display at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences starting Friday May 13th. Spanning more than 90 years, the exhibit will be featured in the Grand Lobby and Fourth Floor Galleries at the Academy on Wilshire Blvd. “Toon In: Animated Movie Posters from the Cudequest Family Collection” will be free and open to the public, Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends, noon to 6 p.m. Rare posters, including one-sheets featuring Toby The Pup, Cubby Bear, Willie Whopper, Fox & Crow, Puppetoons, Mighty Mouse and Donald Duck, will be included. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The posters will displayed through August 21st. For more information check the oscars.org website.
I’ve always had a hard time deciding which of Hayao Miyazaki’s films I like best. Between Castle of Cagliostro, My Neighbor Totoro, Laputa: Castle In The Sky, Naussicaa, Kiki and his more recent works, it’s always been a tough decision. But now, ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner.HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE is a masterpiece – and maybe his best work. It’s certainly my favorite. I was invited to special screening several weeks ago and was planning to hold my comments till closer to the film’s release. However, I just saw the trailer and got excited all over again – and feel compelled to spread the word.This film is totally in a class by itself. It’s an incredible, romantic adventure – with a storyline even more bizzarre (and yet more accessible) to western audiences than Spirited Away. It concerns a young girl being placed under a magic spell causing her to literally become an old woman. The spell also prevents her from telling anyone about her predicament – so she packs up her things and goes off to seek help, moving in with a handsome wizard and his unusual companions, who live in an enchanted castle that travels between several war-torn dimensions. As you might already suspect, this is not your average Disney fairy tale.Miyazaki has a way of pulling you into his world within the first few seconds of a story; taking you on a wild ride and dropping you off at the end, leaving anxious to experience it all over again. This trip is no exception.Though filled with echos of past Miyazaki pet themes, Howl’s storyline feels fresh and exciting. There’s a new compelling idea or breathtaking visual in practically every minute of the film. The images, a combination of traditional anime, full character animation and dazzling CGI are lush and magical. I screened the Japanese language version, however I look forward to the U.S. release English dub being supervised by Pixar (Pete Docter is directing the voices – which includes Lauren Bacall (!) as the Witch).Clearly an early contender for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, Howl’s Moving Castle is not to be missed. It opens June 10th.
If you happen to be in Bucks County Pennsylvania sometime in the next two months, It would be well worth the effort to get over to James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown to catch Steve Schneider’s exhibition of original art – That’s All Folks! The Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons.Steve has amassed perhaps the largest and finest collection of original Looney Tunes animation art, including model sheets, cels, backgrounds, layouts, exposure sheets… heck, everything! The exhibit includes incredible pieces from WHAT’S OPERA DOC, PORKY IN WACKYLAND and COAL BLACK AND DE SEBBEN DWARFS. In addition, there will be several panels, lectures and workshops and of course, screenings of classic Looney Tunes. I’ve seen Steve’s exhibit in New York and in Los Angeles – it’s a must-see. It’s on display from this Saturday April 23rd until July 3rd.
Why we love ebay: MGM Studio resturant menu from 1958. Note how MGM was still using its cartoon characters on the menu even a year after they’d fired the entire cartoon staff!(Thanks Leonard)
Join me on Sunday afternoon – from 2pm onward – for a book signing and birthday party for Martha Sigall at the Van Eaton Gallery in Sherman Oaks, CA.We are celebrating Martha with family and friends in honor of the publication of her memoir Living Life Inside The Lines. It’s just come out – I saw the book last night at my local Barnes & Noble bookstore, and it’s available on amazon.com. I highly recommend it – a unique look at the golden age of animation, not by a star director or animation historian, but by a member of the ink & paint crew. It’s filled with great stories, photos and wonderful memories. Come by on Sunday, get a piece of cake and an autograph – and meet one of the few surviving members of Termite Terrace.
I had a blast last night hosting an Asifa-Hollywood behind the scenes look at MY LIFE AS A TEENAGE ROBOT at Nickelodeon Studios in Burbank. Series creator Rob Renzetti, art director Alex Kirwan and background designer Joseph Holt joined me to discuss the origin of the show, its artistic influences (Astro Boy, Fleischer cartoons and Buffy the Vampie Slayer) and how the series is put together. We screened several episodes on the big screen – I was impressed how much better they looked that way – the design on this show is really superior and worth a closer look.In fact, you can have a closer look, thanks to a limited edition book, now available at the Frederator Teenage Robot Store on Cafe Press.com. I got a copy of this 120 page sketchbook last night, and its loaded with great full page black & white pencil sketches of various characters, prop designs, background layouts and model sheets. Fun stuff and a great glimpse at the work that goes into designing a show. Highly recommended!
Oh, but if all series released a book as this.