I’d be remiss if I didn’t update Brew readers to the forthcoming Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 5 – which will be released on October 30th, available from your favorite online retailer or at a brick and morter video store near you.
Details of its contents have been floating around various websites for a couple of weeks. TVshowsOnDVD.com has the best listing – but even their information has a few omissions and errors: for example, the Snafu and Hook cartoons are actually part of Disc 3 (not Disc 2) and the Walter Lantz Hook cartoon, “Take Heed Mr. Tojo”, and the Private Snafu cartoon “Gas” are unfortunately not included, despite what others on the Internet have reported. There are a few things on the set that nobody has mentioned yet. Disc 1 has a bonus section featuring of over a dozen rare Bugs Bunny Show prime time TV commercials for sponsor General Foods, for such products as Tang and Post Cereals. I’m particularly delighted with the inclusion of these little advertising gems, most transferred from 35mm elements, which were produced during the waning days of the original studio.
And then there are the restorations (see comparison below: laser disc frame at left, DVD frame at right) and several newly restored original titles… but I’ll be telling you much more about that in the weeks to come. For now, mark the date: October 30th.
As long as we are exploring The Smoking Gun – check out this mainly live action, somewhat campy, obscure educational film by Hugh Harman Productions: A Message To Women (1945). The film, produced for the United States Public Health Service, is a frank discussion on the perils of veneral disease. It’s about eighteen minutes long and contains some simple human body diagram animation by Robert Allen. A far cry from the Happy Harmonies of just a few years earlier – but an interesting footnote nonetheless.
(Thanks, Tom Maynard)
The Smoking Gun presents an assortment of iconic American cartoon stars depicted on the shirts of these recent arrestees.
(Thanks, Hiland Hall)
The NFB has already released one terrifically original stop-motion film this yearÃ¢â‚¬”Madame Tutli-PutliÃ¢â‚¬”and next month they’re rolling out another promising stop-mo piece onto the festival circuit. Paradise by writer/director Jesse Rosensweet debuts in September at both the Toronto International Film Festival and the Ottawa International Animation Festival. The stop-motion characters in the film are painted metal tin toys and move in a correspondingly staccato toyish manner. The visual style is apparently a metaphor for the film’s subject matter, which is “the story of a man [voiced by Dave Foley] whose actions are controlled by fate, who is forced to follow a predetermined path.” More details and a trailer are available at the NFB website.
Fascinating story in yesterday’s LA Times about Afterworld, a new CG animated series which premieres online this week at MySpace. The $3 million production (a significant sum for an online animated series) is comprised of 130 episodes, each between 2-3 minutes. The first ten episodes have been posted onto MySpace and the series can also be seen at Afterworld.tv. Below is an excerpt from the Times about how the creators intend to make money from the series:
Instead of a traditional licensing fee, [production company] Electric Farm gets a cut of the ad revenue MySpace generates from the show. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
The company also has made money by selling international television, Internet, mobile and gaming rights to Sony Pictures International, which helped finance the project. Sony also is developing a mobile game to be released early next year based on the series.
The global rollout began this month when the Sci-Fi Channel in Australia began airing the show, which is also available in 13 half-hour episodes.
It also will air on television and mobile phones in several other countries.
Afterworld is a great example of the multi-platform future of animation. While series animation on TV is far from dead, it can no longer be regarded as the final frontier for animation creators. There are an ever-increasing number of distribution platforms and revenue streams for animated series nowadays, and projects like Afterworld are helping to pave the way and find what works in this exciting post-TV environment.
Starting today, an Oscar qualifying one week engagement of Leslie Iwerks new feature documentary The Pixar Story will be screening at Laemmle’s One Colorado Theatre, 42 Miller Alley in Old Pasadena, California. There’ll be two showings daily, at 7:10pm and 8:45pm. Leslie will be at the theater in person (along with family and friends) at the 7:10 screenings on Saturday 8/25 and Sunday 8/26. The film will only play through Thursday, August 30, and it’s really worth seeing on the big screen. I’ve seen it and it’s really good.
The 88 minute film was written, directed & produced by Iwerks and features narration by Stacy Keach. Its only prior public showings have been at Annecy and at the San Diego Comic Con (where it was reviewed by Variety). For periodic screening updates, visit www.LeslieIwerks.com.
If you love Looney Tunes even the little details are interesting. Warner Bros. uber-art collector Eric Calande recently added this item to his collection: A 1944 paystub belonging to animator Thomas McKimson (click above to see slightly larger image). Notes Eric:
Schlesinger was paying him a whopping $90 a week. This comes to about $4700 a year when an average salary in 1944 was
$20 – $25,000 $2, 600. As these were the war years, the check shows a “Victory Tax” deduction. There’s also a field for a “war bonds” deduction.
Examine the rest of Eric’s collection at WarnerArt.com.
Who says Cartoon Brew isn’t up on the world of fashion?
Warner Bros. Studio Stores may be a thing of the past, but that hasn’t stopped the Warner Consumer Products division from selling high end designer Looney Tunes items and opening a fancy Tweety boutique in Beverly Hills.
Located at 9699 Wilshire Boulevard, and open for a limited time (through September 3rd), the boutique had a splashy opening last month with several photo ops with Hollywood starlets (including Hillary’s Duff’s sister Haylie, pictured at left). According to the press release:
The latest offerings from the Tweety collection are decidedly more designer-oriented and cater to a more sophisticated female shopper, as the line expands to include appropriately themed products from Alexandre Herchcovitch, Alexander Wang, Alice Ritter, Erickson Beamon, Issa London, Miss Davenporte, and Scoop.
Not that we need anything else to further blur the line regarding Tweety’s sexual status. For the record: He’s a man, baby!
Animation Magazine has a good article about the new art house movie The Ten and the Flash-animated sequence in it produced by Augenblick Studios. The film, directed by David Wain, is a series of ten short stories inspired by the ten commandments, one of whichÃ¢â‚¬””Thou shall not bear false witnessÃ¢â‚¬”Ã¢â‚¬? is animated. Animation director Aaron Augenblick explains the piece has strong hints of Fleischer in it:
“They wanted a multitude of characters all sort of bouncing along and dancing and that kind of stuff. Fleischer cartoons have always been my favorites, so my approach was to try to do it in a style that was evocative of Betty Boop and Popeye, without trying to make it look old. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to try and do some faux retro piece like in [our web series] Golden Age, as if it were an old cartoon. I wanted to do it in a style that was evocative of those cartoons, but still really vibrant with bright colors, dirty humor and disturbing, gross visuals. The approach was to imagine what Fleischer Studios would do if they were around today and they were animating an all-animal orgy.”
A bit of a curious trend worth noting is the growing number of MySpace pages dedicated to legendary animation artists. While the pages are often tacky and annoying (just like so many other MySpace pages), it’s nice to see classic artists being remembered and introduced to new generations in such a contemporary tech-savvy setting. Below are the classic animators I’ve found on MySpace. Feel free to point out others in the comments.
Disney/WB composer Carl Stalling (here and here)
Brewmaster Jerry Beck will be broadcasting again, live on Shokus Internet Radio today, Wednesday August 22nd from 4pm to 6pm Pacific time (that’s 7pm to 9pm for you in the Eastern Time Zone).
Stu Shostak and I will be discussing the Popeye DVD, Terrytoons, Harveytoons and upcoming DVD releases of classic animation. If you have a specific question you want answered, call in during the broadcast toll free (888) 746-5875. If you miss the show, it’ll be rerun for the next seven days at the same time. Tune in!
A live action-animation TV commercial starring Olive Oyl has caught my eye. It’s currently airing as part of an advertising campaign for Prego Italian sauces. Renegade Animation provided the animation and our friend Darrell Van Citters directed the spot. Says Darrell:
“Renegade has had a lot of experience in recreating classic cartoon characters for commercials (Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, SpongeBob SquarePants, and many others) and it’s a job we take very seriously. Our animators are cartoon fanatics and treat these characters with reverential care. For the Prego spot, we modeled our Olive Oyl after the character in the Fleischer cartoons.”
OliveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ad is one in a series of five different ads for Prego in which a “flavorful” character wonders aloud about what spice to add to their simmering pot of sauce (other spots feature “Baby Spice” and Olympic Silver Medalist Lea Ann Parsley). Scott O’Brien animated Olive Oyl and actress Diane Michelle provided her voice. Keep your pop-eye open for it.
Starting next Tuesday, Frank Conniff and I will presenting our live comedy show, Cartoon Dump, once a month at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood. Every month we will showcase different selection of “Worst Cartoons Ever,” present new characters and welcome guest performers. In our August 28th show we’ll debut a new cast memberÃ¢â‚¬”a dumpster diving puppet created (and performed) by Joel Hodgson (creator, MST3K), and present a special appearence by comedian Dana Gould (writer/exec producer of The Simpsons).
Also joining our cast this month is Eddie Pepitone as Morty, the New Age Agent, who’ll join regulars Erica Doering (Compost Brite) and Frank Conniff (as Moodsy Owl) and… err… me. If this all sounds crazy — it is!
We sold out last month, so we recommend reserving your seat early. If you can’t make it this month, we’ll be back September 25th, October 23rd and Nov. 27th (the fourth Thursday of every month, except December). You can also catch our podcasts on CartoonBrewFilms.com (new weekly episodes will resume next week). Join us at 8pm next week!
There is something fascinating about watching the early silent films from Walt Disney’s studio. Knowing where Walt was headed and what he would later accomplish certainly adds to the experience – especially in the Alice Comedies where he was able to work a little of the “magic” in the combined live action and animation sequences. I was fortunate to be a consultant on the forthcoming Disney Treasures Oswald The Rabbit DVD (more about that when we get closer to the December release date) and I just spent the weekend dipping into Ray Pointer’s revised Alice In Cartoonland compilation.
I’ve previously mentioned that Inkwell Images had a reworked edition of their Alice DVD back in May. Now that I’ve reviewed it, I’m compelled to give it one last plug. This is a superior compilation of ten vintage cartoons. There’s excellent documentary material between each film, and all the cartoons are mastered from the best sources available. One of the new additions to this revised package, Alice Gets Stage Struck (1925), was taken directly from a Library of Congress 35mm transfer (the other newly discovered film Alice Wins The Derby looks great too) and it should be noted, all of the films contained in this revised edition are uncut and do not have DVNR. There are extra features that include a theatrical poster gallery with a printout feature, and bonus cartoons. Order direct from Inkwell Images.