Sony Announces “Tonka” Animated Feature

CULVER CITY, CA — Tonka, the Hasbro brand that for 65 years has stood for its line of toy trucks for children, will bring its TONKA toughness to the big screen in a fully animated motion picture to be produced by Sony Pictures Animation, Hasbro and Happy Madison Productions.  The announcement was made today by Bob Osher, president, Sony Pictures Digital Productions, Michelle Raimo-Kouyate, president of Production for Sony Pictures Animation and Brian Goldner, president and CEO of Hasbro.  The film will also be produced and developed by Goldner and Hasbro’s senior vice president and managing director of motion pictures, Bennett Schneir and will be written by Fred Wolf.

The new Tonka project strengthens the growing ties between Sony Pictures and Hasbro, following the announcements that Sony Pictures is developing motion pictures based on Hasbro’s Risk and Candy Land brands.  Candy Land is also a Happy Madison project.

Commenting on the announcement, Osher said, “In its 65 years, Tonka has become more than a toy or a brand — Tonka trucks are a rite of passage for kids all around the world. Time spent with these toys creates memories that last a lifetime as kids are inspired to play using the boundaries of their imagination. We look forward to creating a family friendly motion picture that brings the Tonka experience to life.”

Raimo-Kouyate added, “Fred and our friends at Happy Madison and Hasbro have a truly inventive take on what it means to be ‘Tonka tough’ that will translate the multi-generational appeal of this world-renowned brand into a fun animated adventure for the whole family.”

“We’re thrilled to be working with Bob, Michelle, and the amazing team of artists and storytellers at Sony Pictures Animation,” said Schneir.  “Together with Happy Madison, we’re excited to bring Tonka trucks to life in a terrific story for audiences around the world.”

One of the most recognized brands in Hasbro’s portfolio, Tonka has been the bestselling toy truck globally since 1947.  Giving children real-life, relatable experiences, TONKA trucks help kids learn the confidence to get the job done.

Disney XD’s “Ultimate Spider-Man” Swings to a Second Season on Marvel Universe Programming Block

A second season of Marvel‘s #1 animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, the launch series of the Marvel Universe programming block, has been ordered by Disney XD, it was announced today by David Levine, Vice President and General Manager, Disney XD Worldwide. The debut series from Marvel Television premiered in April 2012 and to date, has more than doubled its delivery in Total Viewers, Boys 6-14, Boys 6-11 and Boys 2-11. Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man follows the action packed adventures of New York’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man who joins S.H.I.E.L.D.’s exclusive training program alongside four other teens to learn what it takes to become the ultimate Super Heroes.

The TV series’ success extends to online as well where Ultimate Spider-Man games have held the #1 spot since their launch on The Iron Spider game reached #1 in its first week (March 18) and stayed there for five straight weeks until Cyber-Sabotage launched on April 19, taking over the #1 spot for the next four weeks.

In making the announcement, Levine said, “The Disney XD audience has connected with Spider-Man and his super-powered friends as they face challenges in school and with their S.H.I.E.L.D. training. As the anchor of our Marvel Universe block, Ultimate Spider-Man season two will be back with more humor, villains and adventurous storylines that boys (and girls) will love.”

“We are very excited about the return of Ultimate Spider-Man inside the Marvel Universe on Disney XD,” said Jeph Loeb, Head of Marvel Television. “With season two, the series introduces popular Marvel heroes and villains you’ve never seen before on the small screen. With more action, more excitement, more humor, this is the ultimate Spider-Man for fans of all ages.”

The acclaimed creative forces behind Ultimate Spider-Man come back for a second season. Man of Action return to the series as Co-Executive Producers alongside Creative Consultant Paul Dini. Fans can expect even more scripts from fan favorite Consulting Producer Brian Michael Bendis, who has written every issue of the Ultimate Comics Spider-Man since its best selling launch in 1999.

The second season of Ultimate Spider-Man has Spidey teaming up with some of the biggest heroes in the Marvel Universe, the Avengers — Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk. While the stakes get higher, the villains become more menacing as the young heroes encounter classic Spider-Man villains such as the Lizard and other familiar faces. Fans will discover the secret origins of their favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. trainees, with more revealed about Nova, Iron Fist, Power Man and White Tiger.

MAAC, UNIC Look Ahead Towards “Future We Want”

Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC), a leader in 3D Animation and VFX training, announced its association for the second time in a row with the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan (UNIC). After a very successful collaboration last year, MAAC-UNIC has formed a platform to invite applications for the ninth 24FPS international animation awards to promote the theme set for the coming year, The Future We Want through animated movies. The event will showcase the best animation & VFX works in Hollywood, Bollywood, gaming and advertising films, all set around the theme The Future We Want. 24FPS is designed to provide a common platform for young animators not only India but also from countries like China, France, Germany and the US. It gives the young professionals an opportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities of the industry and learn from world-class experts of the industry. Since its inception, the award has been a key driver in the promotion of fresh talent in animation in India and has the support of the global animation industry. The event also provides with opportunities to young animators to get acclaimed at international level. The winning team of last year’s 24FPS from MAAC’s center in New Delhi got an opportunity to work with UNIC on a project and their film, ‘The Pink Bangles’ would be screened during the event this year.

The theme, ‘The Future We Want for 24FPS 2012 has been devised and propagated by the United Nations with the aim of improving the quality of lives of the world’s poorest. The campaign seeks to promote the seven pillars of the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as ‘Rio+20’, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 20-22 June 2012: food security, clean and accessible water, green energy, management of oceans, disaster management, green jobs and sustainable cities.

Speaking at the event Ms. Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, Director, UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan said: “It is appropriate that the MAAC-UNIC partnership is being forged to build up on The Future We Want. This animation contest will raise awareness among young people on the various pillars of the set theme and hopefully lead them in getting involved in efforts that can change the status quo. Today, with technological advancements progressing at a rapid pace, such creative ventures, I believe, will go a long way in productively engaging young people. The UN Information Centre is pleased to collaborate with MAAC to deliver very tangible results.”

Talking about MAAC’s association with the UN in promoting the Millennium Development Goals, Mr. Ninad Karpe, CEO & MD Aptech Ltd., “The tie-up is a new thrust to achieve the theme set for this year, The Future We Want. It will enable contestants to develop content in terms of animated films to promote these development goals for inviting entries for the 9th 24FPS awards. We believe that the power of vocational education can empower an individual with the choice of being self-sustained.”

Also, announcing the forthcoming 24FPS Animation Awards, he added, “Animation and VFX industry has seen an overall growth of 13.6 percent over 2008 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.7 percent to reach an INR 46.6 billion by 2014. The industry has seen stupendous growth rate thanks to increased consumption of animated content, creation of global IP formats, acceptance of 3D graphics and venturing into international markets. Awards like 24FPS celebrate talent and bring to the limelight some of the best work done in this industry.”

Disney Launches “The Art Of Frankenweenie” Exhibition


BURBANK, Calif., June 11, 2012 — Walt Disney Studios announced today that they are launching a touring exhibition featuring the art of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, the acclaimed director’s stop-motion, animated feature film releasing on October 5, 2012.

The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition will premiere in Barcelona, Spain, at CineEurope, June 18-21, and in the U.S. at Comic-Con 2012 in San Diego, California, July 11-15. When the tour is complete it will have visited seven countries, including Spain, France, England, Japan, Mexico, Canada and the U.S.A.

The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition captures the magic of the filmmaking process and gives audiences an exclusive glimpse into the stop-motion animation process brought to life by visionary filmmaker Tim Burton.  From original sketches drawn by Burton, to extensive props, sets and puppets, the exhibition showcases the artistic detail and vision that has gone into bringing this heartwarming tale to the big screen in 2012′s most highly anticipated animated movie. The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition delves into the world of a boy who, inspired by science and the love of his dog, brings his beloved pet back from the dead.

Juxtapoz Meets Adult Swim

The new issue of Juxtapoz is dedicated entirely to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block. Issue preview HERE. Description below:

Just in time for beach trips, travel, and Comic Con, we present to you our very special collaboration with Cartoon Network and Adult Swim on the July 2012 Special Adult Swim issue. Adult Swim has taken over ever feature, profile, photo, review, Pop Life moment, featuring their brand new program, Black Dynamite, on the cover. We got the makers of Venture Bros, Squidbillies, Metalocalypse, Superjail!, Aqua Teen, Childrens Hospital, Robot Chicken, and Loiter Squad all to talk about the stories behind their shows. Throw in exclusive interviews with the likes of Rob Corddry, Seth Green, and special exclusive artwork by Skinner, Tim Biskup, and Olek, with Kevin Kirkpatrick creating a special bust of Carl from Aqua Teen.

(Venture Bros. illustration by Patrick Leger)

Walt Disney Animation Studios Unveils Epic Adventure “Frozen”-In Theaters November 2013

Film/TV/Stage Star Kristen Bell and Tony® Award Winner/film/TV star Idina Menzel Lend their Singing/Acting Talents

Broadway Greats Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez to Contribute Original Songs

BURBANK, Calif. (June 11, 2012) — Walt Disney Animation Studios presents an epic tale of adventure and comedy in Frozen, a computer-animated feature film slated for the big screen in November 2013. Directed by Chris Buck (Tarzan, Surf’s Up) and produced by Peter Del Vecho (Winnie the Pooh, The Princess and the Frog), Frozen features the vocal talents of film/TV/stage star Kristen Bell as Anna, a young dreamer about to take the adventure of a lifetime, and Tony Award ®-winning actress Idina Menzel as Elsa the Snow Queen. The movie will feature original songs by Broadway greats Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

In Frozen, a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, so Anna (voice of Bell) must team up with Kristoff, a daring mountain man, on the grandest of journeys to find the Snow Queen (voice of Menzel) and put an end to the icy spell. Encountering Everest-like extremes, mystical creatures and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction.

Bell has starred in a variety of films, including the comedies Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Couples Retreat, and the upcoming films Hit & Run, Some Girls and the Farrelly Brothers’ Movie 43. On the small screen, Bell is currently starring in the Showtime series House of Lies alongside Don Cheadle; she has also starred in Heroes and Veronica Mars. Broadway credits include The Crucible and Tom Sawyer.

Menzel, who won a Tony Award® as Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Elphaba in Broadway’s Wicked (2004), landed her first role on Broadway in 1995 in the Tony Award-winning musical Rent. Film credits include Enchanted and the feature film Rent. She has appeared in a recurring role on TV’s Glee and recently released Idina Menzel Live: Barefoot at the Symphony, a live concert with an orchestra led by composer/conductor Marvin Hamlisch. Menzel is currently on a North American concert tour.

Robert Lopez is a three-time Tony Award®-winning writer of the Tony and Grammy® Award-winning musical The Book of Mormon, which was co-written with Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park), and the musical Avenue Q, which ran for six years on Broadway and four years in London’s West End. Lopez teamed with wife Anderson-Lopez, whose Drama Desk-winning show In Transit is Broadway-bound, to write original songs for 2011’s Winnie the Pooh, a stage version of Finding Nemo and a new musical called Up Here.

The Cute Greeting Card Artwork Of Louie Schmitt And Stan Spohn

This impeccably cute Fifties era Hallmark booklet was drawn by Louie Schmitt (1908-1993) and painted by Stan Spohn (b. 1915), both of whom were Disney trained artists. Schmitt had animated at Disney since the mid-1930s, but is best known for being Tex Avery’s layout man and character designer for a series of MGM shorts in the late-1940s such as Little ‘Tinker (below), The Cat That Hated People, Lucky Ducky, and Bad Luck Blackie. Spohn was an Art Center-educated Disney background painter who did some terrific development artwork on “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence in Fantasia.

Around 1948, give or take a year, Schmitt and Spohn met J. C. Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards. Hall offered them a lucrative deal to come and work at Hallmark’s headquarters in Kansas City. Schmitt and Spohn told their story to cartoonist Dean Norman, who recounted it in his fantastic self-published book Studio Cards: Funny Greeting Cards and People Who Created Them:

“When we first came [to Hallmark] they said they didn’t have space for us yet in the art department. They really just didn’t want us to corrupt the sweet young girls that worked there, because our language can get sort of salty. So they made us work in a tent on the roof. It was hotter than hell in the summer in Kansas City. After a couple of weeks of sweating it out in the tent we came down off the roof, found an empty office and moved our stuff in. The Old Man thought the girl artists would be jealous, because we got an office while they worked in booths. But they didn’t mind. We got along fine and didn’t corrupt any of them…We thought we would go nuts. A whole building full of twittering young girls, and the stuffy work rules! We hated it, but it was good money, and we did get to do complete art on our cards. Mr. Hall loved our art. So after we had been here a few months, we told him our wives missed California so much that they were going to leave us. We was awful sorry, but we had to quit. Well, the Old Man did what we figured he might do. He offered us contracts to mail in our art from California.”

Schmitt, who I believe did the drawings for the “How to Take Care of Baby” booklet, had a style that was pure syrupy cartoon formula–historian Michael Barrier dismissed Schmitt’s designs as “bargain-basement-Bambi flavor”–yet he also had terrific command of cartooning principles and knew how to inject personality into his characters. It’s easy to understand why his work was so highly valued by Hall, especially when contrasted to the listless illustrative style that was predominant in the greeting card industry at the time:

It seems that Schmitt and Spohn worked as a team, and even had an art studio together after they moved back to Los Angeles. Schmitt died in 1993, but Stan Spohn is (I believe) still with us at the age of 97. There was an article about Spohn in the Monterey County Weekly a few years back where he was holding up one of his Hallmark paintings:

If anyone at Hallmark is reading this, please consider doing a book of Schmitt and Spohn’s artwork. I’d be happy to help–just drop me a line. Their work looks deceptively simple, but there’s a real art to creating such aggressively cute cartoon characters. I have more of their booklets and fold-outs that I will post here if there’s interest. Click on any of the booklet images in this post for a larger version.

“American History” (1992) By Trey Parker

From the archives, here’s the 1992 student film that Trey Parker, co-creator of “South Park”, made at the University of Colorado – a film that went on to win a student Academy Award (Silver Medal) in 1993. It was co-directed by Chris Graves.

Apparently Trey got his Japanese roommate to talk about the history of America as he knew it, which Trey then animated with crude paper cut-outs. The rest is… American History!

Lest you think The Book of Mormon, Team America or Orgazmo were Parker’s first live action efforts, check his other student film: Giant Beavers of Southern Sri Lanka

(Thanks, Charles Brubaker)

“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” talkback

Andy Webster in The New York Times kinda liked it, saying “The humor is similar, but the scale is bigger, faster and brighter.” Betsy Sharkey at The Los Angeles Times was fairly pleased “The animation artistry of Madagascar 3 is at its best under the big top, all cotton candy fluff and razzle dazzle. The character development of this edition is the best of the rest as well.”

Dreamworks’ latest feature opened today – and we’d love to know what you think. Is the third time the charm? How’s the 3D? As usual, Talkback comments are open only to this who’ve actually seen the film. We can tell.

4Kids Entertainment Adjourns Section 363 Auction

Company Seeks To Negotiate Alternative Transaction

NEW YORK, Jun 07, 2012  — 4Kids Entertainment, Inc., the global children’s entertainment and merchandise licensing company (“Company”), announced today that late last week, the Company received a competing bid (the “Konami Bid”) from 4K Acquisition Corp. (the “Konami Bidder”), an indirect subsidiary of Konami Corporation, a Japanese corporation (“Konami”). In the competing bid the Konami Bidder offered to purchase substantially all of the assets of the Company in a transaction under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code. The Konami Bid, in the judgment of the Company, represented a Qualified Bid under the terms of the Bidding Procedures (“Bidding Procedures”) approved by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (“Court”) in the Company’s Bankruptcy Case pending before the Court.

On June 5, 2012, the Company commenced an auction between the stalking horse bidder, Kidsco Media Ventures LLC (the “Saban Bidder”), an affiliate of Saban Capital (“Saban”), and the Konami Bidder. During the auction, each of the bidders made several improved bids. After several rounds of competitive bidding, the auction was adjourned to allow the bidders to consider an alternative transaction among the Company, the Konami Bidder and the Saban Bidder pursuant to which each of the bidders would acquire certain assets of the Company. The proposed alternative transaction, if consummated, would result in a substantial improvement in the proceeds payable to the Company over the last bid made prior to such adjournment. The possible alternative transaction is conditioned upon the negotiation of definitive documentation among the Company, the Konami Bidder and the Saban Bidder and the approval of such alternative transaction by the Bankruptcy Court. There can be no assurance that such alternative transaction will be completed.

The Konami Bidder and the Saban Bidder have each agreed that their last bids made prior to the adjournment of the auction will remain binding until July 31, 2012. The last bids made by the respective bidders prior to the adjournment of the auction will result in the Company realizing additional proceeds from the sale of assets when compared to each of the stalking horse bid set forth in the Asset Purchase Agreement entered into between the Company and the Saban Bidder as of April 25, 2012 and the Qualified Bid submitted by the Konami Bidder prior to the auction. If the proposed alternative transaction is not consummated by the Company, the Konami Bidder and the Saban Bidder, the Company will resume the auction.

Teen Titans Go! to Join Cartoon Network’s DC Nation in 2013

Teenage Super Heroes Return to Cartoon Network as The All-New Teen Titans Go! Joins DC Nation in 2013

DC Nation, Cartoon Network’s home for action-packed animated series and original shorts based on characters from DC Comics (Saturdays 10:00—11:00 a.m. ET/PT), will soon be joined by a new generation of superheroes as Teen Titans Go!, a brand-new half-hour comedy-action series inspired by Warner Bros. Animation’s original fan-favorite series Teen Titans, shows the humorous side of being a teenage hero.

Teen Titans Go! features the return of Robin, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and Cyborg in all-new, comedic adventures. Character-driven comedy is the order of the day as this new take on the super hero series focuses on the funny business that happens between saving the world and living together as teenagers without adult supervision. They may be super heroes who save the world every day … but somebody still has to do the laundry! With the ability to turn into any animal or detach their robotic limbs, teenage pranks reach a whole new level. And even super heroes have to take Driver’s Ed. to get a license — especially after wrecking the Batmobile on an unauthorized joy ride to impress a girl!

Featuring the principal voice cast from the original series — Greg Cipes as Beast Boy, Scott Menville as Robin, Khary Payton as Cyborg, Tara Strong as Raven and Hynden Walch as Starfire — Teen Titans Go! recaptures everything audiences loved about the original show, while adding laughter at the lighter side of being a super hero. Executive produced by Sam Register (Green Lantern: The Animated Series, The Looney Tunes Show, Teen Titans), with Michael Jelenic (ThunderCats, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) and Aaron Horvath (MAD, El Tigre) as producers, this side-splitting series will premiere on Cartoon Network in 2013 as part of the DC Nation programming block.

Director Shane Acker (“9″), Ireland’s Brown Bag Films, Producer Gregory R. Little and Author J. Barton Mitchell Launch Animated Undersea Adventure Film “Deep”

Industry Veterans Team Up to Create Animated Entertainment Using Video Game Production Technology

LOS ANGELES, Jun 08, 2012 – Today, from the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Darragh O’Connell, co-founder of Brown Bag Films, announced the launch of Deep, an undersea adventure set in a post-apocalyptic Earth with Shane Acker (9) attached to direct. Deep is an animated film unlike any other, produced by a team of industry all-stars including Acker, Ireland’s Brown Bag Films, producer Gregory R. Little and author J. Barton Mitchell, using new technologies that result in high-quality production value at a fraction of the time and cost. The project will be produced by Little and O’Connell.

With the feel of an underwater Western, Deep is set in a not-too-distant future when what’s left of humanity has moved undersea to stay alive. The story revolves around the crew of the nuclear submarine Norwood as they race to uncover the secrets behind the Wayfarers, a mysterious splinter group with the potential to wipe out humanity altogether.

The Deep team has been working in collaboration with Valve, one of the world’s most successful video game developers whose hit titles include the Half Life and Portal franchises. Valve has provided the Deep team with new tools and technologies based on the developer’s Source game engine. The tools enable flexible cinematography and editing, a simplified character animation process and economical lighting, sound and visual effects. Render time is cut to nearly nil, enabling rapid revisions to animation, which brings dramatic savings in time and money over traditional production.

Originally conceived as a graphic novel by Mitchell, Deep will initially be produced as feature film; however, producing in a game engine means that the characters and environments in Deep can easily translate to a game format. The team has already begun work on a playable level to be distributed via Steam, Valve’s online game distribution network, and plans to create additional content for digital distribution and provide opportunities for user-created content in the “DEEP” universe.

“Since the success of 9, I’ve been approached with several science fiction-fantasy projects but so many lack substance beneath the slick special effects,” said Acker. “Deep offers real sci-fi credentials but the story is rooted in the complex motivations of the characters making tough choices between right and wrong. I’m excited to be part of a team that is redefining what storytelling in general, and animation in particular, can be.”

“The collaboration with Valve has been a wonderful experience for all of us,” said Little. “The opportunity to produce it in this groundbreaking way gives us great creative freedom and allows us to leverage new distribution channels and platforms.”

Jason Dowdeswell Joins Digital Domain

Vancouver, BC Digital Domain has named Jason Dowdeswell head of production for its Vancouver studio. The 20-year industry veteran will oversee operations for all of the company’s Vancouver-based productions, talent and teams, as well as collaborations with Digital Domain’s Venice, California, San Francisco, Florida, London and Mumbai Digital Domain visual effects teams.

“Digital Domain is a big player in Vancouver; the company is embarking on huge projects that I’m excited to get involved with,” said Dowdeswell. “It is a very interesting company on a global level as well, with a lot of irons in the fire. The team here is amazing and passionate and I look forward to building the strong creative culture and artist-friendly environment that’s been cultivated, and fostering more efficient collaboration with Digital Domain studios around the world.”

Dowdeswell, a Vancouver native, joins Digital Domain from Vancouver-based Image Engine where he spent two years as head of studio, overseeing visual effects on films including The Thing and Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming Elysium. Prior to that he spent eight years at CIS-Vancouver (now owned by Deluxe) as head of studio and has also worked at Sony Pictures Imageworks and Boss Films, where he got his start in visual effects in 1993. He has been involved in the production of visual effects for features including: Salt, Invictus, Zombieland, Angels & Demons, Twilight, Night at the Museum, The Da Vinci Code, Men in Black II, Star Wars: Episode II, Stuart Little, Godzilla, Starship Troopers, True Lies and many others.

Jody Madden, senior vice president of global studio operations, said, “In just three years our Vancouver studio has grown to become an absolutely integral piece of our global production pipeline. This summer we’ve done amazing work on Jack the Giant Killer, The Watch and G.I. Joe: Retaliation and we have some really big features in the pipeline just behind them. Jason’s experience, good humor and skill in building strong teams bring even more depth to our capabilities in Vancouver. He’s a fantastic addition to Digital Domain’s leadership team.”

Dexton Deboree Joins Stardust

Santa Monica, CA — Bi-coastal production company Stardust has brought Dexton Deboree on board as Partner and Managing Director. The new appointment coincides with a realignment of the Stardust brand marked by a new website.

“The timing was serendipitous. We decided to rework the Stardust brand and our internal infrastructure at the same time that Dex and I started talking about joining forces. Dex is a seasoned pro with great creative instincts. He is THE guy to steer Stardust into our next phase,” said Jake Banks, founder, Stardust.

The realignment of Stardust includes a heavier emphasis on projects that will leverage the company’s all-in-one model whereby all creative, from concept to editing, VFX and finishing, can be done in house. This sentiment comes through in the new streamlined website and reel, redesigned for optimized viewing on any Internet-connected device.

“I look forward to building on the existing company legacy and refining and tweaking the model to adapt to the current production climate. There is an incredible range of creative projects out there and a need for strong visual storytellers with equal talent and experience in strategy and client collaboration,” said Deboree.

Dexton has spent many years in film, television and commercial production, producing hundreds of projects with Academy Award winner Angus Wall, and Academy Award nominated and Emmy Award-winning editor Adam Pertofsky. Dexton has worked on a diverse range of projects including James Bond’s Quantum Of Solace, receiving a Grammy nomination for the music video based on the film’s theme song, a documentary short directed by Angus Wall permanently housed at the Museum of Modern Art in Los Angeles and a VW branded film directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris, co-directors of Little Miss Sunshine. Dexton also executive produced the Emmy Award-winning CBS animated Christmas special Yes, Virginia in 2009. He most recently served as executive vice president and partner at Psyop and finished a brief stint as a partner in the west coast office of Free Agents.

The Jim Henson Company To Develop “Frog And Toad” Animated Feature Film

Adaptation of popular children’s books to be written by Craig Bartlett and directed by Cory Edwards

The Jim Henson Company becomes licensing agent for property through a deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books to launch first ever multi-category licensing program for Frog And Toad in the U.S. and Canada

HOLLYWOOD, Calif., June 8, 2012 – The Jim Henson Company has acquired rights to the beloved children’s books Frog And Toad and is developing an animated feature film. Written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel in the 1970s each of the four Frog And Toad books include five short stories chronicling the exploits of a frog and his friend, a toad, simply named Frog and Toad.

Frog And Toad has tremendous value with parents who read these charming stories when they were children and are now sharing them with their own kids,” said Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company. “With such high caliber talent on board, the delightful and funny adventures of these two great friends–with a nod to the classic ‘buddy movie’–will bring a whole new audience to their big screen debut.”

Lisa Henson will produce for The Jim Henson Company. Adam Lobel and Adrianne Lobel will executive produce. Craig Bartlett (Dinosaur Train and Hey Arnold!) will write the screenplay and Cory Edwards (Hoodwinked) is attached to direct.

The Jim Henson Company has also signed a deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books to develop and implement the first-ever multi-category licensing and merchandising program in the U.S. and Canada for the classic literary property. The Company will be presenting Frog And Toad at the upcoming Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.

Melissa Segal, Senior Vice President of Global Consumer Products at The Jim Henson Company said, “As the feature film develops we will be looking to grow awareness of the property with licensed products based on the wonderful body of art from the original classic books in primary categories like apparel, accessories, gifts, toys, home furnishings and room decor. The plan is to launch a program aimed at both kids and adults in department and specialty stores in 2013.”

A Must-Read Interview With Forgotten Animation Legend Phil Monroe

Golden Age animator Phil Monroe (1916-1988) is rarely discussed, even amongst animation cognoscenti, which is unfortunate because he had an amazing career. Over the course of his career, he animated for an honor roll of legendary directors including Bob Clampett, John Hubley, Chuck Jones, Pete Burness, Friz Freleng, and Frank Tashlin. Animation historian Michael Barrier has posted a never-before-published 1976 interview with Phil Monroe that he and Milton Gray conducted.

The interview delves into details that may appeal to only a small portion of our twenty thousand-plus daily readers, but if you appreciate classic Warner Bros. shorts and animation history in general, the interview is guaranteed to blow your mind. There’s even a great story about how Monroe got Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng to square dance with one another, even though “they were barely on speaking terms.” Barrier conducted a follow-up interview with Monroe in 1987, which he promises to publish online soon.

“A Family Man” By The Rauch Brothers

Just in time for Father’s Day: A Family Man is the latest animated documentary short from the Rauch Brothers, and the nonprofit oral history project StoryCorps. The Rauch Brothers’ work combines intelligence, heart and humor in the space of a few minutes–a rare feat in animation. Character design is by Tim Rauch, storyboard by Stephen DeStefano and BG layout and painting by Bill Wray.

“Captain Cornelius Cartoon’s Cartoon Lagoon” Coming To DVD This Fall

Join Wet Willy Jones and Axel Rodd McGee on their undersea quest aboard the Manta Ray, a cartoon-retrieving vessel commanded by Captain Cornelius Cartoon. This brand new animated/puppet show adventure, Captain Cornelius Cartoon’s Cartoon Lagoon, plumbs the depths of Cartoon Lagoon in search of the best and the WORST cartoons ever made.

Created By Manny Galán, Produced by Pat Giles and Manny Galán, Directed by Euralis Weekes, starring Chris Phillips as the voice of “Captain Cornelius C. Cartoon,” featuring the puppeteers Michael Schupbach, Noel MacNeal and Frankie Cordero, Written by Manny Galán and Steve Borst, Recorded at Super Exploder, Trailer Scored by Jeff Elmassian and Endless Noise, Produced by Cartoon Lagoon Studios, Filmed in Lagoonimation!

Captain Cornelius Cartoon’s Cartoon Lagoon coming to DVD Fall 2012.

Melissa Tinker Named VP at Cartoon Network Enterprises

HONG KONG — Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific has named Melissa Tinker as Vice President of its licensing and merchandise division, Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE).

Ms. Tinker’s appointment coincides with CNE’s robust expansion across the region which includes branded learning centres and themed destinations in addition to the growth of traditional categories of toys, apparel, home entertainment, publishing and lifestyle products.

Ideally placed to drive further growth for CNE in Asia Pacific, Tinker brings over 15 years of industry experience focused on crafting licensing strategies for brand expansion, and was a major force behind the success of many popular kids’ and family entertainment brands.

Reporting to Sunny Saha, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Entertainment Networks, Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Tinker will assume the leadership of CNE’s regional licensing & merchandise strategy, planning and network collaboration for Turner’s hit franchises such as Ben 10, Adventure Time, The Amazing World of Gumball and The Powerpuff Girls.

“Melissa is joining the CNE team at a time of unprecedented growth for our business in Asia. With Melissa’s proven track record within the industry, CNE will be taken to even greater heights as she identifies innovative partnerships that create more opportunities for brand engagement,” said Mr. Saha.

Tinker joins CNE after six years at Chorion in Australia where as Senior Vice President of Licensing, Asia Pacific, she turned an underperforming region into one that exceeded annual sales targets for brands including Mr. Men and Little Miss, Noddy, Octonauts, Beatrix Potter and Olivia.

Prior to Chorion, Tinker was a Business Manager at Haven Licensing where she managed a portfolio of leading international and domestic licensors: Universal Studios, MTV Networks/Nickelodeon and ACP.

“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Cartoon Network and to be working alongside such a dynamic and experienced team. I see endless opportunity with such powerhouse brands and the exceptional content Turner has to offer. I am very much looking forward to developing regional initiatives to support the franchise partners and introducing new partners to the business,” said Tinker.

Over the past four years, Cartoon Network Enterprises has experienced significant double digit growth in Asia Pacific, and last year achieved a 27 per cent year-on-year increase in revenue.

Over 350 million products were purchased across the region for Cartoon Network’s key properties including Ben 10, Ben 10 Alien Force, Ben 10 Ultimate Alien, Gwen, The Powerpuff Girls and Generator Rex. This year, the award-winning The Amazing World of Gumball and Adventure Time will launch ranges expected to be equally as popular.

Dates Set for Asian Animation Summit

TORONTO, ONTARIO– The inaugural Asian Animation Summit (AAS) is set to take place on December 10 & 11 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. An initiative of Australia’s ABC TV, Korea’s KOCCA and Malaysia’s MDeC, the event is produced and owned by Kidscreen, and will showcase the best new animated projects from Australia, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore to potential co-producers, broadcasters, distributors and investors.

Designed to stimulate co-production and co-financing, AAS will feature projects from each country in two categories–fully developed, partially funded projects seeking additional financing; and projects in development seeking market feedback. All projects will be carefully selected by the organizing partners based on global-market potential and quality.

Over the course of the two-day event, each project will be presented in a moderated live pitch and Q&A format, with plenty of time for follow-up meetings and casual networking built into the schedule.

Film and television agency Screen Australia has pledged to provide financial support to help as many as 10 Australian producers attend the Asian Animation Summit, underscoring the organization’s commitment to fostering co-production and co-financing within Australasia for homegrown productions. KOCCA intends to support the participation of producers from Korea in a similar way.

AAS 2012 is optimally timed to take place just two days after Asia Television Forum (December 5-7), with a weekend in between for travel from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.

Animated Series “Taffy Saltwater” in Development

LOS ANGELES, CA — Global licensing firm Evolution and CCI Entertainment have entered into a co-venture agreement to develop an all-new animated series Taffy Saltwater, created by Michael Paraskevas and his creative partner, Judy Paraskevas. The brand will be developed on all platforms and include a comprehensive licensing program. The agreement will see Evolution provide all licensing and retail development functions globally for Taffy Saltwater and CCI Entertainment will work with Evolution to guide brand development as well as Executive Produce and distribute the series.

Currently in development, this vibrantly colorful animated series targets children ages four to eight and is propelled by the unstoppable imagination and vivid storytelling of a vivacious girl named Taffy Saltwater and her comical collection of beach buddies.  The series encourages imaginative play and models positive writing skills through dynamic and compelling age appropriate stories and relatable characters with a huge dose of humor added to the mix. Further engaging the audience, Taffy’s storytelling will encourage kids to write stories about themselves, and share their own adventures with friends via their own blogs. The best weekly blogs will be displayed on the series’ dedicated website, and emailed to Taffy’s fans.

Taffy Saltwater will debut in hardcover picture book format in Spring 2013, under a newly signed deal with Michael Paraskevas and Random House Children’s Publishing, packaged by Fonda Snyder under her book packaging and management company, Alchemy Ink, Inc.

Evolution will unveil Taffy Saltwater at the upcoming Licensing Expo 2012 at booth #7162. The series is anticipated to have a 2014 TV launch, with products at specialty retail in summer 2014 and mass retail in the fall.  Key licensing categories will include toys, dolls, figures, play-sets, apparel, accessories, swimwear and seasonal merchandise such as beach toys and towels.

Michael Paraskevas previously partnered with his mother Betty, co-authoring and illustrating 22 children’s books over 15 years.  The duo also created and executive produced such popular children’s animated series as Maggie and the Ferocious Beast for Nickelodeon, Marvin the Tap Dancing Horse for PBS and The Kids from Room 402 for then Fox Family Channel. They also produced and created The Tangerine Bear as a home video Christmas Special.

“Evolution and CCI Entertainment together provide the perfect blend of talent to bring this story to life in animated form, and nurture it all the way to the retail shelf through licensing partnerships that support the brand message,” said Michael Paraskevas.  “We are confident that through their collective efforts, Taffy Saltwater will delight millions of young fans through every medium.”

“Young girls will delight in Taffy’s vivid imagination and stories, friendships and unique worlds, and the positive and social writing skills that are encouraged will allow them to truly become immersed in Taffy’s world,” said Travis J. Rutherford, President of Licensing & Retail Development for Evolution. “To be involved with the property from this early development stage is a significant advantage as we develop the Taffy Saltwater brand.”

Charles Falzon Co-Chairman, CCI Entertainment adds, “We are really looking forward to working on Taffy Saltwater.  The talent that each team is bringing to the table on this project is sure to produce an incredibly engaging brand that will connect with children internationally both on and off screen.”

For Taffy Saltwater every day is another story, another adventure for her to write about. Waking every morning to gaze out the window of her Dream Castle at the endless blue sea and hear the calls of the seagulls, Taffy Saltwater’s bouncy beach ball buddy, Rollo, asks, “What are we going to do today?” Taffy always thinks of some exciting new adventure and then they’re off.  To the boardwalk, the beach, and extra special places such as The Dream Castle, Pirate Cove, Hula-Hula Island or The High Seas. To get there, Taffy places her tiny, tiny toy boat in the water where it magically transforms into a boat big enough to take them where they want to go!   At the end of the day, as the sun is setting, Taffy grabs her tablet device to blog about her adventures, and her friend Rigby, the Rabbit, will grab his paints and his notebook to illustrate it.

Vimeo Awards and Festival in NYC

UPDATE: The winner in the animaiton category last night was Malcolm Sutherland’s Umbra.

Tonight in New York City is the second annual Vimeo Awards. I was one of the judges in the animation category, and one of these four nominees in the category will receive $5,000:

Little Boat by Nelson Boles (US)

Les chiens isolés by Rémi Bastie, Nicolas Deghani, Jonathan Djob-Nkondo, Paul LaColley, Nicolas Pegon, Jérémy Pires, Kevin Manach (France)

Umbra by Malcolm Sutherland (Canada)

Cross by Fabian Grodde (Germany)

Tickets are sold out to the award ceremony, but there are still tickets left to the Vimeo Festival which takes place tomorrow and Saturday, and offers lots of interesting talks targeted toward short filmmakers. Vimeo is offering a special deal for Cartoon Brew readers. For a $40 all-access pass to the 2-day festival, go to Ticketfly and use the discount code “brew”.