Sony officially announced it’s intent to buy MGM this week. To raise the billion-dollar plus asking price needed to make the purchase, cable TV megacorp Comcast chipped in several hundred million to become a partner with Sony and three other companies to close the deal. John R. Alchin, vice president and treasurer of Comcast, said earlier this week the company is already “looking at possible new channels using material from MGM and Sony’s film and television libraries”.
You’ve just bought into one of the greatest film libraries of all time. Over 8000 feature films, numerous classic television episodes, not to mention the short subjects (The Three Stooges), serials (The Iron Claw, The Lost Planet, etc.) and cartoons.I have an idea for you. A suggestion for a new cable channel you could create, that would be an instant success. A classic cartoon channel aimed at adults. Sort of a TCM for animation. A home for classic cartoon stars.Naturally the kids will love it – but you’re smarter than that. You know that adults will tune in great numbers – to enjoy all the cartoon characters they grew up with. Characters no longer running on any television channel, and barely present on dvd.The library you’ve just bought into gives you a head start: you now own cartoons starring The Pink Panther, Mr. Magoo, Li’l Abner, Gerald McBoing Boing, Krazy Kat, The Ant & The Aardvark, Scrappy and The Fox & Crow. You’ve got Oscar winning animation by Friz Freleng, John Hubley, Ernest Pintoff (1963′s The Critic). You own early anime features like The Little Norse Prince, Jack And The Witch, Alakazam The Great, and The World Of Hans Christian Anderson. Your ties with Sony give you rights to recent anime features like Metropolis, Steamboy, Cowboy BeBop, Tokyo Godfathers and who knows what else from Sony’s Animax anime channel. For late nights, you’ve got Fritz The Cat, Heavy Traffic, Heavy Metal and American Pop. You own TV series as diverse as Prince Planet, Super President, Jumanji, Hanna-Barbera’s Jeannie (based on I Dream Of Jeannie), Super Six, The Real Ghostbusters and Dilbert.And just think of the material you could acquire! Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda from Universal, Betty Boop and Little Lulu from Paramount, Casper and Baby Huey from Classic Media, and on and on.
Who knows, maybe Disney will license Mickey, Donald & Goofy, and Warner’s will give you Popeye and Droopy – they don’t run them on their cable channels anymore.Please consider starting the Animation Station (clever title, eh?). I’d be happy to advise you further at this address.Sincerely Yours,Jerry Beck
Reminder: Saturday afternoon (9/25) Mark Kausler and I are hosting an Asifa Hollywood screening of classic Van Beuren TOM & JERRY cartoons at the AFI in Hollywood. These are NOT the Cat & Mouse comedies made famous by Hanna Barbera at MGM. These are funky 1932-33 black & white, jazz hot cartoons – not available on 99Â¢ dvds – including: Wot A Night (the first in the series), Trouble, Joint Wipers, The Tuba Tooter, Jolly Fish, Barnyard Bunk Tight Rope Tricks, Happy Hoboes, Puzzled Pals, and The Phantom Rocket (The last in the series). Join us at 3pm for a good time.
Disney continues to do a good job of keeping Mickey Mouse present in modern merchandising – everything from personal computers to soft drinks is endorsed by the mouse these days. But I am particularly impressed with a new series of Kleenex tissue boxes (now on sale) celebrating Mickey’s 75th anniversary – one of which features the earliest 1928 Mickey on one of its side panels. When was the last time you saw the black & white Mickey – limited editions and Disneyland merchandise excepted – promoted on such a mass market item?
Animator Mike Nguyen (The Iron Giant, Beauty & The Beast), who has been toiling away of late on his own personal animated film (My Little World), recently collected his paintings devoted to his pet cat, created over a 15 year period, into a just-released self-published book, Issa.Mike will be signing copies at the Brand Central Library in Glendale, CA on Thursday, October 28th, from 6:00pm – 8:30pm. Original artwork from the book will be on display, as well as trailers and clips from Mike’s work-in-progress feature film. You can see pages from the book and purchase it online directly from Mike at Julysky.com
This must be the golden age of cheap public domain cartoon dvds. ILM animation director Tom Bertino sent in this toon tip:
Your posting of the 99-cent TOM & JERRY DVD made me think I should tip you off to something, if you don’t know about it already. There is a 12-disc box on the market with the woefully generic title “100 CARTOON CLASSICS“. All PD stuff, and while the usual suspects are there (yet another repackaging of POPEYE FOR PRESIDENT) and there’s a lot of odd as well (some of the most off-brand TV stuff imaginable), there are some really wonderful oddities lurking within. One whole disc (coincidence?) is devoted to Van Beuren T&Js, and scattered around are a number of VB Aesop’s Fables… DIXIE DAYS, RED RIDING HOOD, things like that. There are also a few Ted Eshbaugh indies, including GOOFY GOAT ANTICS. There’s even a Toby The Pup in there, for God’s sake! I paid something like $26.00 for it at my local Borders, and felt like I sure got my money’s worth.
A few years ago I was invited to be a judge for the animation sidebar to the SITGES FANTASY FILM FESTIVAL in Spain. Animator Carolina Lopez ran an excellent mini animation festival there, which she dubbed Animac. Now the mini-fest has turned into it’s own event run by Isabel Herguera. I’ve just recieved a very well designed entry form for ANIMAC ’05 which will be held on February 24th through the 27th, 2005, in Lleida (Catalonia – Spain). Filmmakers wanting to have their films shown there have until Nov. 30th to enter their work. Visit their nifty Flash-enhanced website for more details.
Thursday, July 15, 2004 (Part II)
I arrive at the studio, where I’m issued an electronic badge with my picture on it. This will open locked doors and help the crew identify the New Guy, but how the hell am I supposed to learn a hundred new names, many of them with umlauts and ligatures and accents? The Ö’s and Æ’s and ß’s are daunting to my fevered, jet-lagged brain, but fortunately I brought many high-tech recording devices with me from America. I set my trusty digital camera to “video” and greet every new face with a cheerful, “Hi! Can you tell me your name and how to spell it?” This breaks the ice, gives me some great audio and visual reference, and pegs me as a weirdo immediately.
After an intense day of writing, Mark Zaslove and I go out for a bite. Man, the chow is yummy here, and the coffee is the best I’ve ever tasted. I drink approximately one million cups of it a day. On the way back from the restaurant we pass a club called Sirkus, where a mob has gathered hoping to catch a glimpse of the Tom Selleck Competition. I make a note to check the place out later. Right now I’m beat.
I stumble home and get in bed, writing about pirates until I fall asleep with my computer on my chest. As I drift off the voices of invisible women whisper trivialities in my ears, jarring me awake. What in the world is going on inside my head? Or are the voices coming from outside my head? Am I going nuts? Probably.
Oh, well. Beautiful day for it.
Good night to all,
Ken Pontac, Iceland
My buddy Arnold Leibovit (The Puppetoon Movie) has a nice website called Sci-Fi Station which is dedicated to the great fantasy filmmakers of the past: Walt Disney, George Pal, Ray Harryhausen and others. Arnie just uploaded images from a batch of vintage Disney cels for sale – great ones – consigned to him from several private collections. If classic Disney art is your thing, take a look. At these prices, I’ll be content just to window shop (or the internet equivalent of that term) — but what a nice group of images.
Rivaling Fleischer studios with their abstract rubber-hose animation style and hot jazz musical scores, the RKO Van Beuren Tom & Jerry cartoons (1931-1933) have become classics for their sheer surrealism. Currently in distribution at 99 Cents Only Stores is one of the greatest bargains I’ve ever seen: a dvd of nine Van Beuren TOM & JERRY cartoons! That’s 11 cents per cartoon! And if that’s not enough for you, it comes with a free 10 minute phone card inside the package!! (Thanks to Larry Loc for providing one for the Brew archives)And the dvd works – and the print quality isn’t too bad. They look like 16mm transfers – and most have the original Tom & Jerry title cards. The packaging is a cheap cardboard “envelope” that has been shrink wrapped. This dvd says it’s volume 1 – has anyone out there found volume two? If so, what titles are on it?The company putting these out is called Television Classics in Solona Beach, CA – and they’ve stocked the 99 Cent Only stores with dozens of similiarly packaged PD dvd collections – including Ozzie & Harriet, Dick Van Dyke, Burns & Allen, Make Room For Daddy and Lone Ranger television episodes, not to mention a dozen movie titles, and as I said, the quality is pretty good. Heck, they’re only 99 cents!Next Saturday afternoon, Mark Kausler and I are hosting an Asifa Hollywood screening of classic Van Beuren TOM & JERRY cartoons at the AFI in Hollywood. We will show many rare titles not on these cheap dvds, including Wot A Night (the first in the series), Trouble, Joint Wipers, Tuba Tooter, Jolly Fish, Barnyard Bunk Tight Rope Tricks, Happy Hoboes, Puzzled Pals, and The Phantom Rocket (The last in the series). Join us on September 25th at 3pm and see what all the fuss is about.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
I pop out of bed like a piece of toast, slightly jet-lagged but so excited by the idea of being in Iceland that it doesn’t matter that I’ve only gotten about four hours of sleep. It’s 5:00 AM and the sun is up (the sun is ALWAYS up here – - I’ve gotta get used to that!). After a low-pressure shower of scalding hot water that smells like a beer fart I decide to take a walk and see just where the hell I’ve landed. Since I’m terrified of getting lost in a strange city I take pictures of every corner’s impenetrable street sign with my trusty digital camera.
The city is silent. I share the morning with chirping birds and an occasional stray cat. A block away from my flat I pass an ancient graveyard, moss-covered and doubtless filled with all kinds of Viking zombies.
As I cross a bridge over a giant pond that spans the city, a talking goose tells me where to go. Since the locals always know where the best places are, I take the bird’s advice.
The winding streets remind me of something out of Disneyland, but with way more seedy-looking bars. The quantity of guzzle shops hints at a promising nightlife. The 17 different versions of “Harlem Nocturne” that I downloaded from iTunes make a perfect soundtrack as I approach the phallic dirgefactory. It’s a pretty impressive structure, but for some reason it makes me miss my wife. I pass a company clown-car and figure it’s time to head to work.
I manage to find my way back home in time for Oddur (The Coolest Man In Iceland) to drive me to the studio for my first full day at LazyTown. I can’t wait to get a name badge and my first assignment!
Dreamworks is getting flak over the use of Italian American stereotypes in its new movie, SHARK TALE. While DreamWorks maintains that the movie is a comedy and that its (stereotyped) villains become “heroes”, the Columbus Citizens Foundation is taking the argument public with this response to Dreamworks claims.My question: Is anyone gonna complain about Will Smith’s character?SHARK TALE opens Oct. 1st.
In case you were wondering what ever happened to Alvin, Simon and Theodore:
“Fox 2000 Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Animation and Bagdasarian Productions will produce a live-action/computer-generated event motion picture of Alvin and the Chipmunks…”
Hoo boy! Read the sad story here.
The Museum Of Modern Art in New York is planning a big film-and-video tribute to CalArts that will take place in late 2005/early 2006. The program will highlight the School’s illustrious animation history (it will include student works only, not those of faculty or post graduates). This historical survey will feature films and videos produced by the following departments: Film and Video, Experimental Animation, Character Animation, and Film Directing. Also included are films and videos produced in the MFA program.Current students and alumni are invited to submit their films and videos for consideration. Please send these, along with a CV and any descriptive materials, to:Josh Siegel
Assistant Curator, Department of Film and Media
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019Film prints will be returned. Videocassettes, unless they are unique, will not. The curator of the exhibition, Josh Siegel, also welcomes any suggestions about CalArts graduates and where they might be contacted. Please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warner Bros. animation director Mike Milo (Xiaolin Showdown) has a new flash animation:
Sorry for this shameless self-promotion but I am part of a contest run by a Warner Bros’ website called Cartoon Monsoon. It’s a series of cartoons made entirely in Flash and each week they premiere a new cartoon. Well this week it’s MY cartoon “The Jackalope Boyz”! I’ve been in the biz for 15 years and I’ve had 7 projects go through development at WB, H+B, Cartoon Network and Universal and of course you have no idea who I am, so obviously none were ever green lit. Anyway I’m looking to stir up votes for my cartoon and it would only take three minutes out of your schedule.
You can check out Mike’s cartoon HERE. Also read Mike’s blog.
Good Luck Mike.
Scrappy and Gerald McBoing Boing shake hands with The Inspector and Hoot Kloot – It’s official:Sony has purchased the United Artists/Orion/A.I.P./post 1985 MGM library.