UPDATE: @YamMag points out that the girls in the promo clip are performers in the group Girls’ Generation (aka SNSD).
The folks at New York public radio station WNYC 93.9 are doing a whole week of shows on cartoon music. Today’s show – Soundcheck airing at 2pm Eastern – will feature my old friends, two of the most expert cartoon musicologists I know, Daniel Goldmark (Tunes For Toons) and Will Friedwald (Jazz Singing). They will be discussing the music of Fleischer Studios, specifically Sammy Timberg and Winston Sharples no doubt. Downloads will be available after the live broadcasts. Listen live here.
[Start of Plug]
What: Comedy! Songs! Puppets! Magic! And God-awful cartoons from the wasteland of 50s and 60s Saturday morning television! Every 4th Monday in Hollywood!
Who: Frank Conniff, Erica Doering, J. Elvis Weinstein, Kristin Arrigo, Jerry Beck and special guest star comedian Michael Rayner.
Where: The Steve Allen Theatre, Monday August 22nd at 8pm. Advanced tickets click here.
[End of Plug]
Artists use a color wheel for inspiration; to help select colors and mix pigments. Last month, a group of writers at Slate.com created this clever cartoon color wheel, which is both useful and a lot of fun. Check out the larger version at Slate where you can select each character and enlarge each image.
We don’t usually post trailers twice, but three months ago we posted the trailer for Disney’s “Cars-inspired” direct-to-DVD movie Planes – and after two days and 100 plus comments the studio pulled the video from the internet. They’ve just officially uploaded it to You Tube again today and we thought we’d let you have at it once more (embed below). Above, the first official image of lead character “Dusty” voiced by Jon Cryer. The movie goes on sale Spring 2013.
Here’s some fun for a Saturday afternoon. Courtesy of Stuart Shostack, and his incredible collection of TV GUIDE magazines, comes this 1955 piece of the career of Cliff Edwards (then currently employed doing Jiminy Cricket for The Mickey Mouse Club). Edwards has always been a favorite performer of mine, whether a scat singing jazz vocalist, character comedian or western sidekick – he’ll never be forgotten as Pinocchio’s companion and “official conscience”. (click image below to read enlarged version)
I saw Tom Brown and Daniel Gray’s t.o.m. several years ago, when it played the festival circuit in 2007 (winning the top student prize at Annecy that year). This charming film deceptively walks the line between innocent and twisted. I hadn’t known it was on the net until our colleagues at Motionographer posted it yesterday. Since 2009, Brown and Gray have been running Holbrooks Films in the UK, producing stylish commercials and viral pieces.
Here’s one of the most trivial discoveries in all my years of cartoon research.
So last night I was catching up on some movies I recorded off TCM and in the middle of a 1944 Columbia Pictures B-musical, Kansas City Kitty (1944, Directed by Del Lord), star Joan Davis is standing in the office of a music publisher. On the wall behind her (see frame grab below) are several pieces of sheet music tacked to the wall. It isn’t hard to notice that one of them is Cow Cow Boogie, from the Universal Walter Lantz cartoon, with a cover by Alex Lovy.
It just goes to show, you never know where references to classic cartoons will show up…
Here’s a close up of the real deal…
Yesterday, the Parents Television Council released its latest study, Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter: Sex, Drugs and Profanity on Primetime Animated Shows Kids Watch Most, documenting the “shocking levels of adult content on networks with the highest-rated primetime animated cable shows”. The networks cited in the study included Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nick at Nite.
The report has it in particularly for Adult Swim. Says PTC President Tim Winter:
“Adult content isn’t just creeping into the cartoons that kids today are watching the most; it has overtaken much of that animated programming. We’re not talking about cartoon characters slipping on banana peels and ramming into doors. Our data demonstrates that today’s norm is profanity-laden storylines involving everything from rape and cocaine to STDs and crystal meth. There is now more sexual content on these cartoons than violence — even when counting traditional ‘light’ cartoon violence.
“Parents might not be surprised that there is an abundance of adult-themed content on a cable network called Adult Swim; but those same parents are likely to be very surprised at just how adult the content is and how often teens and pre-teens are flocking to the network. Many don’t even realize Adult Swim appears on the same channel as the decidedly kid-centric Cartoon Network“
Major findings in the report include:
â€¢ Sex (680 instances) surpassed every form of violence (674 instances) in animated primetime cable programming.
â€¢ Sexual depictions included simulations or obscured scenes of sexual intercourse, pornography, masturbation, pedophilia and prostitution.
â€¢ There were a total of 208 incidents relating to drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, crystal meth, psychedelics and alcohol. Eighty percent of the drug-related incidents were depictions rather than references.
â€¢ The study identified 565 incidents of explicit language on shows rated TV-PG and TV-14. Twenty-seven percent of the uses of “f**k” and “sh*t” occurred on TV-PG programs.
â€¢ Eighty-five percent of the TV-PG shows and 64% of the TV-14 shows containing sexual content did not have an “S” descriptor warning parents.
â€¢ Cartoon Network failed to use the ratings system to warn parents about sexual situations (S), suggestive dialogue (D) and coarse or crude language (L) 100% of the time.
You can download the entire report (as a PDF) HERE.
I’m not intentionally ragging on the Tintin movie. I love the character and the original stories, worship his creator Hergé, and admire filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. And I really hope this movie is good. But this latest U.S. one-sheet poster (below) looks awful.
What a big crowded mess of ugly images. I mean really, this is how you are selling the movie to U.S. audiences – a large percentage of them who have never heard of or seen these characters before?
Manitoba-based indie animator Jason Doll makes modest little shorts between his higher paying professional gigs. His latest production, Steve the Super Hero, is a traditionally animated kid’s music video about a boy who battles Bad Guys using “only his natural stinky boy body odor powers”. It feels like a Sesame Street spot, or the opening credits for a pilot – and I mean this in a good way. Jason has just started a blog which features a few posts on the production of the video.
Here’s a real curio – and a treat for fans (like I am) of Louis Prima. The son of late song writer Floyd Huddleston (The Aristocats), Huston Huddleston, has just posted the first of several lost songs produced by Disney for use in a proposed version of The Rescuers. Says Huston:
“This is a song written by Floyd Huddleston, recorded at Disney in Burbank by Louis Prima, Sam Butera and the Witnesses. EXTREMELY rare recording, not even Disney has it, and was not used for the final film. To my knowledge, there were only storyboards and sketches for the Louis The Bear version of the film, most of which Disney has never released.
“Over the next few months, I will be releasing ALL of the unreleased songs and Demos from the film including “Rescuers Aid Society”, “Misery”, “I Never Had It So Good” “Sittin’ In My Favorite Position Doin’ Nothin’‘” and “All I Ever Do Is Think Of You“.
“Unfortunately, the demo version of “Someone’s Waiting For You” sung by Nancy Adams (singer of Love from Robin Hood) is, to my knowledge, forever lost.”
It’s certainly a pleasure to hear this, though its debatable if this version of the story would have made a better film. Who knows how much more discarded material the Disney vaults hold (if they kept it all)?
Experimental animator Robert Breer has passed away. Breer was a fine art painter who became interested in creating films as art in the 1950s. In his early shorts he experimented with the form by creating films using distinctly different images photographed one frame at a time. He became one of the most important figures in the 60′s New York experimental scene. In his later years he taught at Cooper Union in New York and created films for PBS’ The Electric Company. His longest piece, an experiment using the rotoscope, Fuji (1974), was added to the National Film Registry in 2002.
You can watch a nice selection of his shorts at UBUweb. Below is one of his most celebrated later films, Swiss Army Knife With Rats and Pigeons (1980):
We celebrated the date August 11th, 1991 earlier this week by marking the anniversary of The Ren & Stimpy Show. But that same second Sunday morning in August also marked the beginning of Nicktoons itself and the start of a creator driven cartoon explosion. Since today is 20th anniversary that symbolic second Sunday of August, I thought another post to mark the occasion was due.
“20 years ago Nickelodeon’s VP of Creative, Scott Webb had seen an MTV ID that J.J. Sedelmaier of J.J. Sedelmaier Productions (still knocking out great animation) and I had done and drafted us to do an opening and closing for their new cartoon block, Nicktoons. Webb’s assignment was to “do an intro so cool that it will become as famous as the beloved Looney Tunes one”. Oh, sure, no problem there! We came up with the bit below joined by animators Doug Compton, JP Jacquet, and John Dilworth and with the music/sound design of the long missed Tom Pomposello. It debuted with Nicktoons, won some awards, but was quickly shit-canned by some suit who had other ideas and some political pull and, well… that’s all folks!
Sedelmaier just posted the original Nicktoon bumpers on his site. Click the image below to see them:
“Man, I loves me some retro-animation!”
I personally cannot get enough of the current spate of short films that are affectionate homages to silent era, vintage Hollywood and golden-age TV. Canadian animator (and Spumco veteran) Tavis Silbernagel made a little silent-era goodie with Nick Cross few years back. Says Silbernagel of this film:
“It’s an independent film I did a few years after I graduated college. I worked with Nick Cross on it and we produced it from start to finish in two weeks time. There was a lull of work at the studio we were at and we decided to team up on two shorts. One of which was ‘Fruit, Juice! Protein?’. I’m a fan of whimsical names and next to my first sketch of the character in my drawing book was a very bland shopping list: Fruit juice protein. I’ve been developing the idea over the years and it’s expanded quite a bit. Right now I’m working on a game for the storyline and I’m very excited about it. Combining such an old style of animation with the world of gaming and interactive media is a novel idea and I can’t wait to see how it’s recieved.”
(Thanks, Michael Valiquette)
As is the case each year, dozens of potentially worthy animated features from around the world do not make it to these shores. Case in point: Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild which opened late last month in Korea. The movie, which cost $2.8 million to produce, is scheduled to open next month in China.
Then there’s RPG Metanoia, which opened last December in the Philippines. It’s the first full length CG Philippine animated film presented in 3D. Will it ever open in the U.S.? Probably not – so here’s a taste:
Yesterday, during commercial breaks on Stu’s Show, I was going through Stu’s complete collection of vintage TV Guide magazines. There I found this intriguing 1955 article (below), written by animation producer Paul Terry, called “How To Make Children Laugh” – subtitled “A Cartoonist Tells The Brutal Truth”.
What is that “brutal truth“? That “children react best to situations in which there is a slight suggestion of violence“. Terry, who had just sold his studio to CBS, was hyping his ancient Terrytoon shorts then being screened on Barker Bill’s Cartoon Show. It’s a strange little article and his conclusions are debatable – but he got one thing right, the last line: “…the popularity of animated cartoons will live on and on; the humor in them is visual and, therefore, universal.”
Once again I will be the guesting on Shokus Internet Radio’s Stu’s Show today at 7pm Eastern / 4pm Pacific. This is your rare opportunity to ask me live and in-person about Cartoons, Cartunes or even Kartunes.
Scheduled topics we hope to tackle include Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry on Blu-Ray, the Animated Features Oscar race, Harveytoons on DVD, Seth MacFarlane’s Flintstones and as always, whatever the listeners want to talk about. You are encouraged to call in your questions and comments on the station’s toll-free telephone number – or better yet, email your questions to: comments-at-shokusradio.com.
Stu’s Show airs live each Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. PST, with rebroadcasts at the same time each day through next Tuesday August 16th. Access to the station’s feed is free, with no registration required, and is available either by clicking on the Enter Site button on the home page (www.shokusradio.com), by choosing one of the audio player links on the site’s main page.
Apparently Disney gave their okay to a local Herriman, Utah (love the town’s name!) builder, Bangerter Homes, to construct a replica of the house in Pixar’s Up. The asking price is $399,000. The house comes with a home theater downstairs and two bedrooms in the basement – one pays homage to the Disney princesses, while the other is Andy’s room from the Toy Story films.
Here’s a video tour:
Beloved animator, graphic artist, book illustrator, painter and teacher Cornelius “Corny” Cole has passed away. His close friend, animator Bob Kurtz, confirmed to us that Corny died this morning. Cole was reportedly 81 and had been suffering with MSA (Multiple System Atrophy).
Cole was born and raised in Southern California and was a fine art major at the Chouinard Art School. He entered the animation industry in 1954 as an in-betweener on Disney’s Lady & The Tramp. He went on to work for UPA in the latter ’50s, then for Warner Bros. Cartoons in the early ’60s. He became a production designer for Chuck Jones on Gay Purr-ee (1962) and The Phantom Tollbooth (1969) and designed Super Six (1966) and Ant & The Aardvark (1969) for DePatie-Freleng.
It’s Gene Deitch’s 87th birthday today – Happy Birthday, Gene! – and to celebrate, Deitch has started a new blog based around his latest book, a work-in-progress, called Roll The Credits.
For the few reading this unaware of Gene’s career, Mr. Deitch is an Academy Award winning (Munro, 1960) animation director who began his career at UPA where he ultimately ran the New York studio directing Bert and Harry Piels commercials, ran the Terrytoons studio where he created Tom Terrific and Sick Sick Sidney, moved to Prague in 1959 where he directed Tom & Jerry shorts for MGM, Popeye and Krazy Kat TV cartoons for King Features and Nudnik theatricals for Paramount. He spent many years directing animated films for Weston Woods, including an adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Oh, and he’s the father of acclaimed underground cartoonist Kim Deitch.
Gene’s new blog will (on a somewhat regular basis) post chapters from the new book, each one devoted to a person who inspired him, “the 65 freaky people – many who have been so far hidden from you – who’ve pushed and prodded me into whatever it is that I’ve accomplished.” The first posts are devoted to his mentor John Hubley, author-illustrator Tomi Ungerer, filmmaker Jan Svankmajer and his mother, Ruth. Gene says this about the book and website:
I’ve tried to keep it light, bright, and short-winded where possible, but a couple of chapters are necessarily semi-sagas. Please cue me if I induce boredom! It’s a “Living Book” because YOU are invited to correct, add, deny, refute, or argue with anything I’ve written. Sadly, many of the people I’ve written about have gone beyond the point of no return, so it’s up to you to challenge my memory. A true history is the goal.
It sounds like a present to all of us who love Gene and the history of animation. Here’s to Gene Deitch, his new blog and our best wishes for his continued success and good health. Happy Birthday, Gene Deitch!
Several decades ago, a collector named Mary Rose acquired a collection consisting of some very rare (possibly one of a kind) Disney production recordings from the estate of studio musician, percussionist Hal Rees. These are the acetate discs animators used to animate to. Most of these recordings are dated between 1937 and 1940 and are from such films as Dumbo, Reluctant Dragon and The Little Whirlwind. The recordings have been very well cared for and preserved – and contain early versions of Disney songs, sound effect tests and audio of directors comments made during early stages of production and offer a unique audio glimpse behind the scenes.
Now Mary is interested in selling all or part of this collection to the proper buyer. To me, that would mean a buyer willing to make this material accessible to all of us interested in hearing it. If you might be interested in purchasing one or all of these pieces of Disney history, check out Mary’s website and contact her directly at maryerose2-at-yahoo.com (this email address is better than the one listed on her site). May the best collector win (and share these with us)!
Gulp is a short stop-mo animation created by “Sumo Science” (Ed Patterson and Will Studd) for client Aardman Animations. The film has broken a world record for the “largest stop-motion animation set”, with the largest scene stretching over 11,000 square feet. It was shot frame-by-frame on location on a beach in South Wales, using the camera on a Nokia N8 smart phone. But even more inspiring than the film itself (embed below) is the making-of video (click here).
(Thanks, Craig Yoe and Simon Acosta)