TONIGHT IN NYC: Peculiar Picture Parade

Guard Dog Global Jam

Tonight at 7:30 pm, the 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson Street) presents “Peculiar Picture Parade: Animated Films Defying the Norms,” a collection of recent animated shorts by New York animators. The screening, curated by Joy and Noelle Vaccese (aka Twins are Weird), includes recent pieces by Bill Plympton (Guard Dog Global Jam) Pat Smith (Masks), Signe Baumane (excerpts from the feature-in-progress Rocks In My Pocket) and Fran Krause (Nosy Bear), among others.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or in advance at the 92Y Tribeca website.

“The Simpsons” Celebrate an Anniversary Today

The Simpsons

Just spoke with the great David Silverman, and he informed me of an impressive milestone: today marks the 24th anniversary of production of The Simpsons. (The series of David’s drawings above are from the early Tracey Ullman Show episodes.) As he tweeted earlier:

24 years ago, we first started drawing The Simpsons on March 23, 1987. Wes Archer, Bill Kopp, and myself. Happy Anniversary!

Cartoon Network Announces its 2011 Slate of Series

Springboarding off its 2010 ratings growth across key kids and boys demos, in which series/specials Adventure Time, Dude, What Would Happen, Generator Rex and Hall of Game helped propel the network to new heights, Cartoon Network described its plans for building new global franchises today as it unveiled a broad slate of new content for 2011 at its annual Advertising Upfront presentation.  Thirteen new animated series, 19 returning shows, and the network’s newest live-action scripted comedy series, Level Up, which will launch with a 90-minute original movie, will debut over the next year.  The morning’s announcements also spotlighted a new partnership between Warner Bros., DC Entertainment and Cartoon Network in which the three entertainment brands would unite their powerful assets in publishing, theatrical and television to create a multi-platform block of exclusive branded original content on the network named, DC Nation.

DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) CEO and Co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg also appeared to reveal development plans for the new half-hour CG-animated series based on the Oscar-nominated and hugely popular 2010 motion picture adventure, How to Train Your Dragon.  Coupled with new and returning acquisitions, these projects represent Cartoon Network’s largest episodic commitment to date for new content.

“Our commitment last year to build on the volume of broad content for our audience has paid off in solid ratings growth and renewed strength among our core 6-11 audience,” said Stuart Snyder, president and chief operating officer, Turner Broadcasting’s Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media (AYAKM).  “We now have successful new shows that we can grow into the next big franchises.  By partnering with premier entertainment companies like Warner Bros., DreamWorks Animation SKG and DC Entertainment, we are laying the groundwork for even further growth and expansion opportunities across the coming year.”

“As Cartoon Network continues to strategically align great new content with exciting franchises, our ad sales team is committed to developing innovative ideas for our partners that will extend the reach of their message and brands across our linear and digital platforms,” said John O’Hara, executive vice president and general sales manager, Cartoon Network Ad Sales & Marketing.  “The recent success with Hall of Game is a key example of how we collaborated with our advertising partners to develop high-profile, custom opportunities, which live across multiple viewer experience levels and delivered measurable return on their investment.”

Exclusive first looks of new original animated comedy series revealed to advertisers at Jazz at Lincoln Center included: The Problem Solverz and Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, two new series from Cartoon Network Studios joining the network’s successful Monday night prime-time comedy block of quarter-hour programs Adventure Time, Regular Show and MAD which rank #1 in their timeslots across all television among kids and boys 2-11, 6-11 and 9-14; The Amazing World of Gumball, the U.S. premiere of a new international series from Cartoon Network’s U.K. production studio; and The Looney Tunes Show, an all-new series in the tradition of classic theatrical shorts from Warner Bros. Animation.  Sneak peeks of new animated action-adventure series included a new version of the global hit franchise Ben 10; an all-new remake of the action series ThunderCats from Warner Bros.; and a CG-animated follow-up to this summer’s highly-anticipated action movie starring Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern: The Animated Series.

Cartoon Network also debuted what will be its newest venture into live-action scripted comedy with the series Level Up, a fantastical comedy for the video game age.  The show will launch as a 90-minute movie event in late fall and serve as a platform to promote the new half-hour series scheduled for spring 2012.  Level Up (both credited for Chasing Liberty). The series will be executive produced by Peter Murrieta (Wizards of Waverly Place, Hope and Faith). The movie is directed and executive produced by Peter Lauer (Sons Of Tuscon, Chuck). is created and written by Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman

“Over the last year, the most notable growth at Cartoon Network has been driven by prime-time comedy programs,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer for Cartoon Network.  “This season, we’ll build upon that momentum by amping up the funny across all formats and debuting an array of wonderfully unique animated and live-action series.”

Debuting in 2012 as a multi-platform franchise, DC Nation will be the exclusive home for original DC animation properties.  Backed by the production, publishing and marketing resources of Warner Bros., DC Entertainment and Cartoon Network, DC Nation will be an on-air and online programming block populated with event programming, interstitials, exclusive behind-the-scenes of theatrical production and an insider look into the world of all things DC.

“DC Nation on Cartoon Network will be the first-ever dedicated broadcast destination to showcase the depth and breadth of the DC Universe,” said Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment.  “We and our partners at WBTV are thrilled that fans will be able to immerse themselves in DC’s phenomenal stories, experience a wide spectrum of amazing characters and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings of the world’s greatest superheroes and their creators, both on-air and online.”

Underscoring the point of great franchises was Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO and Co-Founder of DreamWorks Animation SKG, who discussed how his team was planning to bring the global smash hit How to Train Your Dragon, which grossed $500+ million at the worldwide box-office, to Cartoon Network via an all-new weekly CG-animated series.

“DreamWorks Animation recognizes the importance of building brands around great franchises, so you can imagine how thrilled we are to be joining forces with Cartoon Network to bring our newest franchise — How to Train Your Dragon — to television audiences around the world,” said Katzenberg.  “Today’s presentation marks an exciting new beginning for our company and reaffirms our goal to ensure that How to Train Your Dragon has the ideal home, which we have found in Cartoon Network.”

Additional programming announcements from the network included a fourth season renewal for the LucasFilm Animation Ltd. CG-animated juggernaut, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which continued to significantly grow key kids and boys demos throughout its third season.  Also coming next year is a fourth season of the animated comedy reality show franchise, Total Drama. In this new iteration, the competition returns to its roots with Total Drama: Revenge of the Island.

Further highlights of Cartoon Network’s newly announced content slated for launch across the 2011-2012 season include the following:


• The Problem Solverz: Created by celebrated artist Ben Jones, The Problem Solverz presents a fresh, distinctive visual style and tone in a new series that follows three crazy young dudes, Horace, Roba and Alfe, the proprietors of an unorthodox detective agency dedicated to solving the mysteries of the universe, one case at a time.  Slated to premiere Monday, April 4, at 8:45 p.m. (ET/PT).

• Secret Mountain Fort Awesome: From Pete Browngardt (Chowder), Cartoon Network Studios presents a hilarious new comedy about a mega-rad group of monsters that live underground and do crazy awesome stuff like steal the sun, fight CGI-sharks, and get their butts kicked by a velociraptor.  Plus they wrestle!  See, it’s awesome, right?  But remember, it’s a secret.  Shh!…premiering this summer.

• The Amazing World of Gumball: Dad is a 6’4″ pink rabbit who stays home while Mom works in the rainbow factory.  Their children include Gumball, a blue cat with a giant head; Anais, a 4-year-old genius bunny; and Darwin, a pet goldfish who became part of the family when he sprouted legs.  The eye-catching animated series combines 2D and 3D animation techniques in a live-action setting and originates from Cartoon Network UK.  The Amazing World of Gumball premieres Monday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

• The Looney Tunes Show: Screen icons Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are back, starring in an all-new modern comedy series from Warner Bros. Animation featuring all of the favorite Looney Tunes characters–Porky Pig, Speedy Gonzales, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, the Tasmanian Devil, Marvin the Martian, Tweety, Sylvester, Granny, Gossamer, Lola and Tina, Daffy’s new no-nonsense girlfriend.  Fresh designs coupled with a vivid, contemporary animation style enhance the timeless wit and charm that make these classic characters so beloved around the world.  The Looney Tunes Show will premiere on Tuesday, May 3, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT).

• Level Up: After high schoolers Wyatt (Gaelan Connell), Lyle (Jessie T. Usher), Dante (Connor del Rio) and Angie (Aimee Carrero) unwittingly open a portal from a video game into the real world, characters from the game and internet start leaking into the real world.  The group now finds themselves balancing their everyday lives with the extraordinary things that show up in their town.  Level Up is created and written by Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman (both credited for Chasing Liberty) and executive produced by Peter Murrieta (Wizards of Waverly Place, Hope and Faith).

• New Ben 10 Series [Title TBD]: Ben 10 has been one of Cartoon Network’s most successful original series since first premiering on the network in January 2006.  The franchise has since spawned four animated series, one animated movie, two live-action movies, a widely-popular consumer products line and has captured the imaginations of viewers on a global scale.

• ThunderCats: The re-imagined animated series based on the beloved 80s classic tells the tale of a hero’s epic journey to fulfill his ultimate destiny.  On Third Earth, the kingdom of Thundera is being threatened by the evil sorcerer Mumm-Ra and young heir to the throne Lion-O embarks on a great quest to take his rightful place as king.  The unlikely champion, joined by his faithful comrades Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro, WilyKit, WilyKat and his loyal pet Snarf, must work together to save their world from darkness.

• Green Lantern: The Animated Series: Based upon the DC Comics super hero, the series is an all-new CG animated action series from Warner Bros.  As Earth’s Green Lantern, Hal Jordan is used to being in dangerous situations–but he’s never faced anything like this!  Set at the farthest reaches of deep space, Hal must face down an invasion from the Red Lantern Corps.  Hal is soon joined by an all-new group of heroes on a mission to protect Guardian Space –and the Green Lantern Corps itself!

• DC Nation: A multi-platform, branded block of original programming and exclusive content based on the DC Comics library of legendary character properties, DC Nation is developed in partnership with Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.  The all-new venture will harness the publishing, theatrical and television assets together for one powerful on-air block on Cartoon Network with exclusive online content.

• How to Train Your Dragon: Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, DreamWorks Animation’s new series rolls fire-breathing action, epic adventure and laughs into a captivating and original story.  Hiccup is a young Viking who defies tradition when he befriends one of his deadliest foes–a ferocious dragon he calls Toothless.  Together, the unlikely heroes must fight against all odds to save both of their worlds.

• Total Drama: Revenge of the Island: It’s back to the island where Total Drama began for an all-new season with an all-new cast!  Since Chris took the show worldwide, Camp Wawanakwa has been abandoned and turned into a toxic nuclear waste dump–the perfect place for a new season of painful, cringe-inducing challenges!  Fighting for the million dollar prize are thirteen wild new players.

• RedaKai: Conquer the Kairu: An animated kids adventure series stars Ky, a 15-year-old student of ancient martial arts who embarks on an incredible quest to find the Kairu, a primordial alien energy force.  Helped by his friends Maya and Boomer, Ky travels the globe looking for the Kairu to protect it from his extraterrestrial teenage opponents, with the hope that one day he will become the greatest Kairu warrior of them all—a Redakai.

• Lego Ninjago: After a time of peace in Ninjago, our four Ninja heroes are about to face a new dangerous enemy.  Lloyd Garmadon, son of their archenemy Lord Garmadon, has unleashed a new evil with unique powers.  Soon his  ambition to follow in his father’s footsteps has put all of Ninjago in jeopardy.

Aids Prevention PSA – 1930s style

There’s nothing like a French PSA done to tune of Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation, animated in the style of a 1930s Hollywood cartoon, to teach you a lesson about Aids prevention! We’ve come a long way from the days when Fritz The Cat was considered shocking.

Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Client: Aides
Director: Against all Odds (Niklas Rissler and Kevin Grady designed, animated and directed the film with design assistance from Johan Idesjo).
Exec producer: Josh Thorne
2D Animation: Niklas Rissler, Kevin Grady
Set Design: Johan Idesjo
Production Company: Passion Pictures
Producer: Julie Murnaghan, Jon Drawbaugh
Executive Creative Director: Erik Vervroegen
Art Director: Andre Massis
Copywriter: Eric Boyd

(Thanks, Chris Sobieniak)

Book Series “Poppy Cat” Comes To The Sprout As Animated Series

Leading children’s and family entertainment producer and rights management company Coolabi has secured a major US broadcast deal with 24-hour preschool television channel Sprout for its brand new property Poppy Cat. The network, which airs in over 50 million households, has picked up US rights for the show and will air the 52 x 11-minute animated series later in 2011.

Poppy Cat brings to animated life the wonderful world of the preschool children’s character created by Lara Jones in the Macmillan book series that has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide. The series is co-produced by Coolabi’s television production arm Coolabi Productions and the Emmy shortlisted and BAFTA award-winning King Rollo Films.

Michael Dee, Director of Content at Coolabi says: “We are thrilled to be breaking into the competitive US marketplace. Securing an American broadcast deal for a UK-produced show is notoriously difficult, but clinching the deal before the show has even aired in the UK is a real coup for Coolabi. Sprout is the ideal home for Poppy Cat in the US and we are excited to bring this new pre-school property to new audiences as the show rolls out globally this year.”

“We are delighted with this opportunity to bring such a loveable, popular character from the pages of the Poppy Cat book series to millions of television screens all across the U.S.,” said Andrew Beecham, senior vice president of programming at Sprout.  “We are dedicated to providing fresh, interactive, learning-based entertainment to preschoolers and their families and we’re thrilled that Poppy Cat is joining the Sprout family.”

As well as launching on Nick Jr UK in May, the series has also already been presold to a number of other international territories, including Nick Jr Australia, RTE Ireland, YLE Finland, TV2 Norway, and TVO, SCN and Knowledge Network in Canada, with further international deals to be announced shortly.

Joe Murray’s KaBoing TV

Taking DIY to a whole new level, animator Joe Murray (Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo) has launched his own personal cartoon channel on the internet, Kaboing TV, and with it the debut of his new animation series Frog In A Suit.

Joe raised funds to produce Frog In A Suit on Kickstarter and received over 346 “backers” to meet his funding goal in 45 days. Three original episodes were produced for the launch of Kaboing – The third episode makes its debut on Friday, the second is already posted there, below is the first one:

TODAY & THIS WEEK: Jerry on Stu’s Show

Once again, I will be the featured guest today on Shokus Internet Radio’s Stu’s Show. It’ll air live today beginning at 4:00 p.m. Pacific (7:00 p.m. Eastern). You are encouraged to call in with your questions and comments on the station’s toll-free telephone number.

Stu’s Show airs live each Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. PST, with rebroadcasts at the same time each day through next Tuesday March 29th. 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 (, by choosing one of the audio player links on the site’s main page. What do we talk about? Topics usually revolve around DVD releases of classic cartoons, and as always, whatever Stu or the listeners want to talk about. This video below sort-of sums up the mindset of the hosts and the listeners:

People in the News

Two newspaper articles of note today, both concerning animation folk living life their way:

Did you know that Glenn Morrissette, who orchestrates music for Family Guy, does his thing out of an RV he drives around L.A.? The L.A. Times has the full story.

Ever wonder what happened to Frank and Caroline Mouris, Academy Award winners for their short Frank Film (1973)? The Wall Street Journal reports they are happily content being dog sitters in upstate New York.

GKids Announces English Voice Cast for “Mia and the Migoo”

Animation specialists GKIDS today announced the English language voice cast for their award-winning animated feature Mia and the Magoo by director Jacques-Rémy Girerd. The new English language version is produced by US distributor GKIDS and Matthew Modine, and features John DiMaggio, Whoopi Goldberg, Matthew Modine, Wallace Shawn, and James Woods, and introduces Amanda Misquez as Mia. The film opens theatrically for an exclusive engagement at New York’s IFC Center on March 25, with national bow set for Earth Day, April 22, in partnership with Earth Day Network.

Mia and the Magoo is the second feature by animator Jacques-Rémy Girerd, founder of famed French animation studio Folimage and recipient of France’s Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit), one of the nation’s highest honors. The film was winner of Best Animated Feature at the European Film Awards in December 2009 and is being released theatrically in the US by GKIDS with the support of MEDIA International.

Created from an astonishing 500,000 hand-painted frames of animation, Mia and the Magoo is a stunningly beautiful and thrilling family adventure that pits a plucky, wild haired young heroine Mia against profit-hungry developers, with the future of life on Earth in the balance. One night Mia has a premonition. So after saying a few words of parting at her mother’s grave, she sets out on a journey across mountains and jungles in search of her father, who has been trapped in a landslide at a disaster-plagued construction site on a remote tropical lake. In the middle of the lake stands the ancient Tree of Life, watched over by innocent, bumbling forest spirits called the Migoo, who grow and change shape as they please, morphing from small childlike beings to petulant giants. It is the Migoo who have been disrupting the construction to protect this sacred site — and now together with Mia they join in a fight to find Mia’s father and save the Tree.

Mia and the Magoo opens March 25 for an exclusive one week engagement at New York’s IFC Center, where GKIDS has opened previous animated films Azur and Asmar, Sita Sings the Blues, The Secret of Kells, and Summer Wars. The film will then open nationally on Earth Day, April 22, in partnership with Earth Day Network, the environmental organization behind the global Earth Day celebration. All theatrical proceeds from the film’s opening weekend will support Earth Day Network’s Canopy Project, a world-wide tree-planting initiative. Each tree planted counts towards A Billion Acts of Green®, the world’s largest environmental campaign.

Classic Nick Animated Programs Coming To Blu-ray

Paramount Home Entertainment, Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory today announced a sub-licensing agreement that will give Shout! Factory rights to distribute DVD and Blu-ray releases of some of Nick’s classic animated programs, including The Wild Thornberrys, Hey Arnold, Danny Phantom, Aaaah! Real Monsters, and Rocko’s Modern Life in the United States and Canada.

The first title to be released will be The Wild Thornberrys: Season One, which will arrive in stores on May 17, 2011.  Produced by Klasky-Csupo for Nickelodeon, The Wild Thornberrys premiered in September 1998 and aired until 2004 with reruns airing on Nicktoons and CBS from 2002-2007. The Wild Thornberrys DVD release has long been anticipated by fans but has not been available in stores until now.

The hit series follows the Thornberry family as they travel the world in their Communications Vehicle (or CommVee) looking for rare animals to film. After an encounter with an African shaman, their youngest child Eliza was given the power to speak to animals! Every episode in this adventure-packed DVD set follows Eliza as she comes face-to-face with an assortment of animals, continents and danger. Encounter wildlife in all its natural glory and eavesdrop on Eliza’s conversations with silverback gorillas, pythons, crested grebes, tapirs, capybaras, antelopes and opossums while the CommVee travels on!

Vibrant animation, exotic locations, charming storytelling plus an all-star voice cast, including Lacey Chabert (Party Of Five), Tim Curry (The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius) and Flea (The Red Hot Chili Peppers) make season one of The Wild Thornberrys an epic family adventure.  Featuring all 20 action-packed episodes, the collectible 4-DVD box set is priced to own at a suggested retail price of $29.93 and will no doubt attract a new audience of kids as well as young adults who grew up watching the television series.

The release of these DVDs is part of Nickelodeon’s commitment to bring back classic shows.  Nickelodeon will also launch a new nighttime programming block this fall on TeenNick called “The ‘90s Are All That!,” featuring a rotating selection of iconic live-action and animated shows from Nickelodeon’s 1990s.

“Happiness Is A Warm Blanket” pencil tests

Next Tuesday, Warner Home Video will release an all-new Peanuts special direct-to-video, Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown. It was directed by my old friend Andy Beall (Up, Ratatouille) and animator Frank Molieri (The Simpsons Movie, SpongeBob SquarePants Movie). The film is based directly on Peanuts strips from the 1960s, and the whole production was put together with incredible loving care. I’ve seen it and I love it. It may be the best Peanuts animation since… oh, lets say 1971. Here’s a video, narrated by Beall, showing several scenes in pencil test just to give you a taste.

Disney IMG Hires Yahoo’s Mark L. Walter for Disney Websites

Press Release

Mark L. Walker has joined Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG) as senior vice president of, it was announced today by DIMG Co-President James Pitaro. Formerly the head of the Yahoo! News and Information properties, Walker will oversee all product development, marketing, programming and operations for Disney-branded websites, including He will be based in North Hollywood and report to James Pitaro.

As the leader of Yahoo! News, Walker transformed the online property from a leading news aggregation platform into the premier source of original reporting and premium original video programming, with industry-leading social media activation. He personalized the Yahoo! News experience for consumers through seamless front page, social and local news content integration. He also developed, launched and sold innovative video news programs, including many of the most streamed video series on the Internet.

Mark has tremendous expertise in the online space, having created industry-leading online experiences for consumers, as well as identifying new business and revenue stream opportunities,” said Pitaro. “He will be an outstanding addition to the DIMG leadership team and hugely instrumental in the enhancement of our Disney-branded web experiences.”

Prior to taking the helm at Yahoo! News, Walker was the vice president of business development for Yahoo! Media, responsible for leading the business development teams in entertainment, sports and lifestyle content. Walker was the Co-Principal of Oceanaix Ventures LLC, an investment and consulting firm focused on traditional and digital media businesses. He has also held top business and legal affairs positions for several entertainment media companies in music, film and television.

Cartoon Network Greenlights second series of European-spawned hit “The Amazing World of Gumball”

Press Release -

Turner Broadcasting has commissioned a second season of The Amazing World of Gumball, in advance of the rollout of the first series of the groundbreaking animated show.

As well as bolstering Turner Broadcasting’s commitment to the production of large scale European kids’ series, the move is further evidence that the broadcaster is anticipating big things from its first commission out of the Cartoon Network Development Studio Europe.

The second season of The Amazing World of Gumball will consist of 40 x 11′ episodes and will continue its format of 2D and 3D animation within a live-action setting. It will air on Cartoon Network in over 166 countries across the world.

Produced in London and animated at Boulder Media in Ireland (with 3D elements from Studio Soi in Germany), The Amazing World of Gumball is set to have its international debut on Cartoon Network in the UK on 2nd May 2011.

“The Mystery” and “The Responsible” will be the first two episodes to debut in the UK, followed by a full series launch later in the year. Production on the second series is expected to commence in June and will retain its core team of creator Ben Bocquelet, director Mic Graves and executive producer Daniel Lennard.

As a result of phenomenal audience testing, the United States will be the first territory to roll out the full series from 9th May 2011, as part of Cartoon Network’s prime time Monday evening comedy block. Other countries are expected to begin launching in Q4.

The Amazing World of Gumball follows the misadventures of twelve-year-old Gumball and his family in the weird and wonderful town of Elmore. Featuring a stellar cast of characters, Gumball’s school friends include a tyrannosaurus rex, a cheerleading peanut, and a banana.

Daniel Lennard, Vice President Original Series and Development at Turner Broadcasting said: “A visually groundbreaking series with a cast of funny, loveable characters, The Amazing World of Gumball is one of the most exciting animation shows to launch in recent years. Commissioning a second series before the first show has aired shows our absolute commitment and belief in the series and we’re hoping audiences the world over will embrace this show as much as we have.”

Ben Bocquelet, Show Creator adds: “I’m hugely excited. There are so many amazing stories to tell with these unique characters and a whole universe to develop further. I can’t wait to get the team back together.”

Michael Carrington, Chief Content Officer, Turner Broadcasting adds: “There is a fantastic appetite for high-quality, narrative-driven comedy animation amongst children’s audiences around the world, and with The Amazing World of Gumball, we are helping to fill that gap. I’m thrilled to have greenlit this second series before we’ve launched the first – it is a tremendous accolade to our cast and crew who have created an amazing show”.

Walmart and Universal Leap Into “Hop” Retail Program

Press Release -

Universal Pictures and Walmart today announced a retail program tied to the upcoming live action/CG-animated comedy Hop, the second film from Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me) that hits movie theaters across the country on April 1. Walmart customers can build their Hop-themed Easter baskets, and visit the movie-inspired “Candy Factory,” with great values on 100 exclusive licensed products, including candy, toys, activities and apparel.

“We’re excited to offer our customers new ways to shop the Easter holiday this year with our Hop products available at incredible prices. From the toy aisles to the baking center, families can enjoy the magic of Hop and its characters throughout our stores,” said Gary Severson, senior vice president, Home Entertainment, Walmart U.S. “This is the first time we’ve worked with a licensed property to brand an important seasonal event in Walmart stores.”

Hop is the next great film from Chris Meledandri and Illumination Entertainment that will delight families all over the world this Easter season,” said Stephanie Sperber, president, Universal Partnerships and Licensing. “Walmart’s unprecedented level of co-branded promotional support is an incredible opportunity to raise awareness for our film and allow shoppers to bring the adorable characters and Hop-themed products into their homes.”

Beginning tomorrow, more than 3,000 Walmart stores will provide a destination for all things Easter including a dedicated aisle rolling out sweet Easter treats in every color of the rainbow, and a Build-a-Basket Factory. Specific Hop licensed products will range from $1 – $10 and include:

  • Building the Easter Basket
    • Frankford Easter baskets
    • Hershey’s candy and Frankford chocolates and candy
  • Getting Dressed for the Occasion
    • Boys T-shirts from Garan; Girl T-shirts from Topsville
  • Easter Treats Families Can Bake and Enjoy Together
    • Cookies and craft items from Bakery Craft
    • Cookie decorating kits from Create a Treat
    • Assorted baked goods from Keystone Bakeries
  • Bunny-full Snacks and Drinks
    • Kool-Aid and Country Time Lemonade
    • Kraft Mac & Cheese and Velveeta Shells & Cheese
  • Toys and More
    • Character plush toys from Funrise
    • Coloring and activity books from Dalmation Press
    • Bubbles, pinwheels, paddle board, memory card games, etc. from Funrise
    • Bath and body products from Townley

Walmart will also offer Hop-themed video games for the Nintendo DS, DSi and 3DS, greeting cards and children’s books.

Anime producer Hiroshi Kakoi Passes Away is reporting that producer and animator Hiroshi Kakoi passed away as a result of the earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11 in Japan. Kakoi was a key animator of the original Macross series, as well as the 1980 version of Astro Boy. He went on to be a producer on several Macross series, and was currently working as a production manager at Artland and the anime studio AIC.

Disney’s 1924 letter to Ub Iwerks

Mike Van Eaton (disclosure: he advertises on Cartoon Brew) is in the midst of compiling and co-producing a mammoth animation art-and-artifact auction with Profiles in History (run by Joe Maddalena) with over 1,500 lots, set to happen May 14th and 15th at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. Day one will feature 700 lots containing some of the most coveted items in Disney Animation history, including a handwritten letter written in 1924 by Walt to his former colleague and soon-to-be designer of Mickey Mouse, Ub Iwerks (1901-1971). This is the letter – which has been quoted in such books as Mike Barrier’s The Animated Man, Bob Thomas’ Walt Disney: An American Original, and Leslie Iwerks/John Kenworthy’s The Hand Behind The Mouse – in which Walt convinces Ub to come to Hollywood and join the studio… the rest, as you know, is history. Mike has graciously allowed me to post the letter exclusively on Cartoon Brew for all our readers to enjoy.

Note the envelope (above) and letter (thumbnails below, click to enlarge) is on Disney Bros. Studio letterhead, and addressed to his “Dear friend Ubbe,“. Disney pens (transcription in full):
Continue reading

“The Light At the End” by Chris Burton

The Light At The End is by Chris Burton, a 26 year-old self-taught animator (“…and still learning”) based in London.

Burton writes:

“I’m actually a web developer my profession – I make films in my free time, and this – like my previous work – took six months from conception to final cut.

“Icebox Studios is just the moniker under which I show my work – the “studio” itself is little more than my desk and computer.I made the film using Blender and Gimp, both open source software, so apart from living costs the film didn’t cost anything. A friend of mine composed the music, and the sound was sampled from a creative-commons licensed website.

“I struggled quite a lot with the story details beyond the initial idea, and I actually started over and re-animated the whole thing after the first cut wasn’t entertaining enough. There are a lot of “pearly gate” comedy shorts out there, and I really wanted the divine aspect to take a back seat to the film’s underlying theme of learning to look out for yourself rather than being dependent on others.”

“Viliam” by Veronika Obertová

Viliam is Veronika Obertová‘s graduation short from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia. The handmade papercraft technique fits nicely with the theme of obsessive artistic creation at all costs. I was also impressed by Obertová’s satiric styling and how she subverted the crisp and safe paper sculpture shapes with quasi-grotesque character designs comprised of dangling noses, freakish mouth shapes, spoked-wheel eyes and heavy black outlines.

Animated Fragments #3

For more about Animated Fragments, see this earlier post.

Promo for Canal Brasil by Sergio Yamasaki (Brazil): “The idea was to tell the audience that the twitter of the channel had changed due to a virus.”

Lip sync exercise from Roman Holiday by Deanna Trudeau (School of Visual Arts, USA)

“Leo Fisher” lip sync exercise by Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits (Royal College of Art, UK)

Timbre Z by Mirai Mizue (Japan). One of 26 abstract pieces made in 26 consecutive days. View all of them here.

Anagrams by Phoebe Halstead (Kingston University, UK)

File No.4 by Patrick Doyon (Canada)

New Book Round-Up

Haven’t posted a book review in a while, and I’m pleased to report I have several new acquisitions that are well-worth talking about.

First up, another great Craig Yoe IDW hard-cover comics compilation that I’d be raving about even if I didn’t write a brief introduction for it or have my picture in it. Popeye, The Great Comic Book Tales is a perfect companion to the excellent Segar Popeye volumes presently available. This book takes a look at the other great Popeye cartoonist, E.C. Segar’s successor, Bud Sagendorf. These are selected comic book stories from 1948 through 1957 and they are what I personally consider Popeye in his prime. That may be because I grew up reading this Popeye, so I have a particularly soft spot for Sagendorf’s version – which comes off as a combination of Segar, Fleischer, Famous Studios and a unique brand of lunacy that was Sagendorf’s own; the fact that he was a terrific cartoonist and hilarious storyteller only adds the fun. Stories here include Popeye’s battles with Jetoe (“The Champeen Fighter of the Planet Mars!”), The Sea Hag and the “Misermites”; The time he ate “Shrink Weed” and washes with “Spinach Soap”… and years ahead of Seinfeld, Sagendorf places Popeye in a story about “Nothing”! As usual Yoe starts off with 15 pages of unique one-eye sailor man introductory matter which includes rare press material and photographs – and the book itself is a beautiful production, a pleasure to look at, hold and display. It’s really good – and has my highest endorsement. Get it today!

I am a huge fan of this year’s Oscar-winning short, The Lost Thing. Scholastic has just released Shaun Tan’s original short story from which the film was based, along with two other tales illustrated by Tan (originally published separately in Australia between 1998 and 2001) in a wonderful new hardcover book. A girl finds a bright spot in a dark world; a boy leads a strange, lost creature home; and a group of peaceful creatures lose their home to cruel invaders. Three brilliantly visual fantasy tales, and a book that is itself a dazzling work of art. See for yourself – here’s a sample spread. The book is called Lost & Found and its a genuine winner.

Didier Ghez‘ ongoing series of Disney artist interviews, Walt’s People, is one of the all-time great projects of animation history and Disney scholarship. In each edition, Ghez rounds up a dozen-or-two interviews with the animators, writers, filmmakers and other Disney collaborators, famous and infamous, in published or unpublished pieces by noted historians, self-publishing a 300-plus page paperback loaded with new information and insights. His latest volume, just out, Volume 10 contains over 40 interviews by Bob Thomas – conducted in researching his 1976 biography of Walt. Interviewees include Ub Iwerks, Dick Huemer, Wilfred Jackson, Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl and on and on, including Disney himself, all in their own words. Jim Korkis provides additional insights and Diane Disney Miller contributes a Foreword. These volumes are vital to all who care about animation and how Disney created his world.

And finally, I want to give a shout-out to two animators who have just published new books that will certainly enrich their target audiences:

Celebrated animator and now educator Tony White preaches the gospel of 2D hand drawn every single day. He’s written several “How to” books and his latest is a bit different, but just as practical. It’s called Jumping Through Hoops, The Animation Job Coach and its essentially the primer for the aspiring animation artist. How to choose a great school; How to build a portfolio, find your first job and how to keep it – these are the topics Tony explores and discusses in frank, realistic terms. If you are just starting out – you should read this book.

Animator and character designer Brianne Drouhard (Batman Brave and Bold, Ben 10, etc), aka potatofarmgirl, has her first children’s book just out: Billie The Unicorn. It’s filled with gorgeous drawings of the type that used to be animated – this would have made a great TV special 25 years ago. In fact, it would make a great kids special or short childrens film today. I hope Brianne can figure that out – but until then, her new book will keep you and the small ones quite entertained.

“The Bellows March” by Eric Dyer

Eric Dyer‘s The Bellows March is a sublime way to end our unintentional zoetrope week on Cartoon Brew. I first saw Dyer’s film when I was jurying the Ottawa animation festival a couple years back. The complex visual patterns and rhythms in his short have the dual qualities of mathematical precision and natural organic beauty. Even after watching the film multiple times, it still boggles my mind how Dyer, who is a professor at University of Maryland Baltimore County, planned and choreographed the production. Below is a video with a behind-the-scenes look at the circular sculptures, dubbed cinetropes, that were made with 3-D printed parts:

Max Hathaway, who sent me the link to the film and who assisted Dyer on this short, is working on his own zoetrope-esque animation with stop-motion armatures mounted on an animation rig. He’s documenting the production of the short on his blog.

Disney Bumps Original Series Slate 30% In the Disney Channel Family Upfronts

Press Release - After delivering a year of best-ever ratings across each of its kid-driven, family inclusive platforms, and deepening its strong connection with kids and parents, especially moms, Disney showcased an unprecedented amount of new programming that’s to come — an expanded slate of 13 new original series (part of 435 total original episodes in 2011, a 30% increase from last year, not including acquisitions) and additional new titles in the blockbuster Disney Channel Original Movie franchise at its annual presentation to advertisers today at New York’s Gotham Hall.

At the event, themed “Time to Shine,” Carolina Lightcap, President, Disney Channels Worldwide, highlighted the expanded programming slates, ratings momentum and unique emotional connection to kids and families that’s delivered by each brand in Disney’s portfolio — which includes Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior and Radio Disney.

Disney’s new and returning programming was showcased by Gary Marsh, President, Entertainment and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide; and Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide. Rita Ferro, Executive Vice President, Disney Media Sales and Marketing, presented Disney’s powerful media sales enterprise, through which marketers can reach kids, tweens and moms across every engagement point where they are spending their time: TV, online, mobile and radio. Ferro also highlighted the strength of the flagship Disney Channel in bringing kids and families together — 2011 to date, it reaches more kids, tweens and Moms in primetime than any other cable network

Hosted by Radio Disney’s Ernie D., the event included a performance by teen superstar Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place), the performance debut of actress and newly signed Hollywood Records recording artist China Anne McClain (ANT Farm), a martial arts performance by actor Leo Howard (Kickin’ It), a boisterous song by Bones and Sharky of The Never Land Pirate Band (Jake and the Never Land Pirates), an appearance by actress Debby Ryan (Jessie, The Suite Life on Deck) and a high energy dance number by the cast of Shake It Up — TV’s #1 series among Kids 6-14: Bella Thorne, Zendaya, Adam Irigoyen, Davis Cleveland, Kenton Duty, Roshon Fegan and Caroline Sunshine.

The momentum is strong. 2011 to date, in Total Day, Disney Channel is pacing to deliver its best ever first quarter in Total Viewers and all kid demographics, and is the only network among its chief competitors (Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network) to post ratings increases versus a year ago. 2010 was Disney Channel’s most watched year ever in all key demographics including Total Viewers, Kids 2-5, Kids 6-11 and Tweens 9-14. 2010 was also Disney Channel’s second consecutive year ranking #1 among Tweens in Total Day.

In primetime, Disney Channel’s #1 rank extended to 10 consecutive years among Tweens and to eight straight years among Kids. Disney Channel was cable’s #2 network in primetime among Total Viewers, marking the fifth consecutive year the network has ranked among the Top 2 cable networks.

2010 also marked the ninth consecutive year Disney Channel has delivered the #1 original movie telecast among Tweens and the fourth consecutive year in Total Viewers, an indication of strong co-viewing by kids, parents and families. In fact, Disney Channel is the #1 cable network for reaching moms in primetime.

Disney XD, which recently marked its second anniversary, has had eight consecutive quarters of growth. With three weeks left in the first quarter of 2011, Disney XD is currently pacing to deliver the channel’s best quarterly Total Day ratings ever in Total Viewers, Kids and Boys 6-14, 6-11 and 9-14. In 2010, Disney XD delivered its best yearly ratings ever (including the channel’s 10+ years as Toon Disney) in Total Viewers, Kids and Boys 6-11 and 6-14, posting double-digit percent increases in all key demographics — Kids and Boys 6-14, 6-11 and 9-14.

With the premiere of Disney Junior, February was Disney Channel’s best month ever among Kids 2-5. Year to year, Disney Junior is up a whopping 44% among Kids, 55% among Boys 2-5, 32% among Girls 2-5 and 13% among Women 18-49. 2011 to-date, Jake and the Never Land Pirates is TV’s #1 series among Kids and Boy 2-5.

Highlights of new and returning programming are (Editor’s Note: Listing is edited to only include animated series):

Gravity Falls (new animated series)
This animated comedy tells the story of twins Dipper and Mabel — two city kids sent to spend the summer with their crusty old great uncle Stan (aka Grunkle Stan) in Gravity Falls, Oregon. Turns out, Gravity Falls is not a run of the mill vacation spot, but is a strange and wondrous place – home to every weird creature and phenomenon imaginable, from gnomes to time portals to quantum waffles. Created and executive-produced by Alex Hirsch (Fish Hooks), the series is a production of Disney Television Animation.

Phineas and Ferb (returning series and movie)
The critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning Phineas and Ferb is TV’s #1 animated series among Tweens for three years running, and has inspired a Disney Channel Original Movie, Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension, that transports Phineas and Ferb to a parallel dimension where a truly evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz is actually succeeding at taking over the world. The movie is set to premiere in summer 2011. The series is on both Disney Channel and Disney XD. Both the series and movie were created and are executive-produced by Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh. Both are productions of Disney Television Animation. The voice cast includes Vincent Martella, Thomas Sangster, Ashley Tisdale, Mitchel Musso, Caroline Rhea, Richard O’Brien, Dee Bradley Baker and Alyson Stoner.

Disney XD

Ultimate Spider-Man (new animated series)
The centerpiece of an upcoming Marvel programming block on Disney XD, this animated series from Marvel follows Peter Parker who, as the storyline begins, has been Spider-Man for just one year. He’s fought villains, saved lives, but still has much to learn about being a super-hero. Now, Nick Fury gives Peter the chance to go to the next level — to train to be a real super-hero and become The Ultimate Spider-Man. But before he can do that, Peter will have to learn how to work with a team of fellow teenage super-heroes. The series’ award-winning creative team includes Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series, Lost ), the creative powerhouse Man of Action Studios (creators of Ben 10 and Generator Rex), comprised of lauded creators Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle; and Brian Michael Bendis (visionary behind Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man comic series).

Motorcity (new animated series)
This animated series is set in a futuristic Detroit owned by evil billionaire Abraham Kane. Having banned personal freedoms including automobile transportation, Kane now faces one last obstacle, a group of hot-rod wielding rebels who call themselves The Burners. Led by Mike Chilton, The Burners rise to stop Kane from conquering Detroit’s last oasis of freedom — an underground refuge dubbed Motorcity. The series, created by Chris Prynoski and produced by Disney Television Animation and Titmouse, Inc., is slated to premiere in winter 2012 on Disney XD. The voice cast is Reid Scott, Nate Torrence, Kate Micucci, Kel Mitchell, Jess Harnell, Brian Doyle Murray, Jim Breuer and Mark Hamill. It is executive produced and directed by Chris Prynoski (Metalocalypse, Megas XLR, Downtown). Craig Lewis (Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends) is the story editor and John O’Bryan (Avatar: The Last Airbender) and George Krstic (Star Wars: Clone Wars) are staff writers.

Tron: Uprising (new animated series)
This visually stunning series, scheduled to premiere in fall 2012 on Disney XD, focuses on an era of the TRON storyline that transpires after the 1982 feature film and before the story in TRON: Legacy. Its impressive list of artists, animators, directors, producers and digital technicians includes executive producer/director Charlie Bean (Robotboy, Samurai Jack, and Powerpuff Girls), and consulting producers Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz (both screenwriters of TRON: Legacy / executive producers of Lost) and Justin Springer (co-producer of TRON: Legacy). The series will be preceded by a 10-part TRON micro-series launching in winter 2012 on Disney XD. The voice cast includes Elijah Wood, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Mandy Moore, Nate Corddry, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reubens, Reginald VelJohnson and Bruce Boxleitner.

Kick Buttowski — Suburban Daredevil (returning series)
The hit animated series premieres its second season in April, a season filled with notable guest stars including NBA star Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic), Tony Hawk, Ed O’Neill (Modern Family), Will Forte (Saturday Night Live), Rico Rodriguez (Modern Family), legendary entertainer Debbie Reynolds and Jay Harris (ESPN’s SportsCenter). The series stars Charlie Schlatter, Matt L. Jones, Danny Cooksey, John DiMaggio and Eric Christian Olsen. Recurring are Henry Winkler, Emily Osment, Simon Helberg and Alyssa Milano. Created and executive-produced by Sandro Corsaro and produced and directed by Chris Savino, the series is a production of Disney Television Animation.

Disney Junior

Doc McStuffins (new animated series)
The doctor is in… and she will launch the 24-hour Disney Junior channel in 2012. Doc McStuffins is an imaginative animated series about six-year-old Dottie “Doc” McStuffins, who communicates with and heals stuffed animals and toys out of her backyard clinic. The series will highlight the importance of taking care of oneself and others, while showcasing the hallmarks of great Disney storytelling — fantasy and wish fulfillment. The Hollywood Health & Society division of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center will serve as the health and medical consultant for the series, advising on core health issues that are relevant to young kids and families. Emmy Award-winning writer Chris Nee (Little Bill) is the creator and executive producer and Emmy Award-winning Norton Virgien (Rugrats) is the director. Doc McStuffins is a production of the Dublin, Ireland-based Academy Award-nominated animation studio Brown Bag Films (Granny O’Grimm, Give Up Yer Aul Sins) in association with Disney Channel.

Oki’s Oasis (new animated series)
The first animated western for preschoolers, Oki’s Oasis stars Mandy Moore (Disney’s Tangled) as the voice of Oki, a kitty cat sheriff in the town of Nice and Friendly Corners, the friendliest town in the West. With the help of her deputy woodpecker, Peck, Oki makes sure the town stays “nice and friendly” and when trouble comes a-calling, she makes sure it doesn’t stay long. The series imparts social skills and lessons on the value of being a “good neighbor.” Produced by George Evelyn and Denis Morella, it is a production of Wildbrain Entertainment.

Sofia the First (new animated special and series pilot)
Sofia the First, a full length animated special and series pilot, set in the storybook world of the classic Disney Princesses, introduces Sofia, a little girl with a commoner’s background until her mom marries the King and suddenly she is royalty. Sofia is whisked off to the castle, where she learns what it means to be a real princess, discovering empowering lessons about kindness, forgiveness, generosity, courage and self-respect. With the help of the three familiar fairies in charge of the Royal Training Academy — Flora, Fauna and Merryweather of Disney’s classic “Sleeping Beauty” — Sofia learns that looking like a princess isn’t all that hard, but behaving like one must come from the heart. The writer is Craig Gerber (The Pixie Hollow Games) and the executive producer/director is Jamie Mitchell (Special Agent Oso). It is a production of Disney Television Animation.

7D (new animated series pilot)
Creators, including Walt Disney himself, have long been inspired to access classic folk and fairy tales… reimagining, reinterpreting and reinventing them for new generations. The animated series pilot 7D takes a new creative approach to the beloved Brothers Grimm tale of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” reimagining it in a comic and contemporary storybook world. The new music-filled stories introduce the whimsical world of Jollywood, where the kind-hearted Queen Delightful calls upon the 7D — Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy and Doc — for assistance. Emmy Award-winning Tom Ruegger (Animaniacs) directs the pilot written by Craig Shemin (Tasty Time with ZeFronk) with character design by Noah Z. Jones (Fish Hooks). It is a production of Disney Television Animation.

Minnie Bow-Toons (new animated short form series)
This new short form series was inspired by a popular episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that focuses on Mickey’s #1 gal, Minnie Mouse, and her friend Daisy Duck and is set in Minnie’s Bow-Tique (which stocks only bows and bow-ties). Scheduled for a 2011 premiere, it will be followed soon thereafter by a full-length series that takes place at Minnie’s Bow-tique Hotel and follows the comedic happenings as some familiar guests, including the Hippo from Fantasia, check in. On any given day, Minnie acts as hostess, party planner, chef, fashion consultant, riding instructor or tour guide, with Daisy taking on the role of a very chatty front desk clerk. Clarabelle is a cow of all trades, taking on a number of jobs — bellhop, maintenance worker, pool attendant, juice bar attendant and room service waitress — all for which she is completely ill-suited. “Minnie’s Bow-Toons” is produced by Kate Boutilier and Eryk Casemiro (Olivia) and directed by Robert Ramirez (Can You Teach My Alligator Manners?). It is a production of Disney Television Animation.

Jake and the Never Land Pirates (animated series)
A second season pick-up was announced for Jake and the Never Land Pirates, following its remarkable premiere to record-setting ratings on Disney Channel. It is the #1 series on TV among both Kids 2-5 and Boys 2-5 2011 to date, and is posting significant year-to-year time period growth with Kids 2-5 (+40%), Boys 2-5 (+60%), Girls 2-5 (+19%), and notably with Women 18-49 (+36%) and Total Viewers (+37%). The animated adventure introduces a crew of kid pirates — leader Jake and pals Izzy and Cubby – and follows their Never Land adventures as they work to outwit two infamous characters, the one and only Captain Hook and Smee, from Disney’s classic Peter Pan. The learning-focused series emphasizes teamwork and features original pirate rock music performed by The Never Land Pirate Band. The executive producer is Rob LaDuca (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) and producer/story editor is Mark Seidenberg. Kelly Ward is the voice director and Howy Parkins is the director. It is a production of Disney Television Animation.