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ASIFA to honor Tim Burton, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Bruce Timm

ASIFA-Hollywood has announced its Winsor McCay Award recipients for 2009: Tim Burton, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Bruce Timm. The award is given in recognition of career contributions to the art of animation.

Tim Burton, of course, has had a strong influence on the world of animation. Burton began his career as an animator (Tron, Fox And the Hound) at the Walt Disney Studios where he directed his first shorts, Vincent (in stop motion animation) and Frankenweenie (live action). He co-produced the CBS Family Dog series, and returned to Disney to make Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, directed by Henry Selick) and later co-produced the stop-mo feature James and The Giant Peach (1996). In the past decade, Burton co-directed the stop-motion Corpse Bride (2005) and created an internet animation series, The World of Stainboy (2000). Burton is currently developing Frankenweenie as a full length animated feature.

Bruce Timm forever changed the world of TV adventure cartoons with his visual take on DC Comics super heroes, beginning with his co-producing Batman: the Animated Series in 1992. Timm began his career in animation at Filmation, doing layouts on He-Man and Flash Gordon. He did storyboards for Ralph Bakshi (on Mighty Mouse: the New Adventures) and John Kricfalusi (Beany & Cecil). While working on Tiny Toon Adventures, he helped create a new take on Batman. The success of that series has led Timm to redesign the entire DC Comics universe in various Warner Bros. Animation series as Superman, Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited.

Jeffrey Katzenberg is the CEO of Dreamworks Animation. Katzenberg was responsible for reviving the fortunes of Walt Disney Feature Animation with his supervision of The Little Mermaid, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King. Katzenberg left Disney in 1994 to team with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen to create Dreamworks SKG, where, as head of the animation studio, he oversaw the production of such hand drawn animated features as The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado and Spirit. Switching to CG production, the studio since produced a string of hits including Shrek (and its sequels), Madagascar (and its spin-offs) and Kung Fu Panda.

The awards will be presented at the 37th Annual Annie Awards scheduled for Saturday, February 6, 2010 at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles, California.

  • Tom Ruegger

    Congrats to Bruce! Good choice, ASIFA!
    (And Jerry: nice “Skeletor-skeleton” side-by-side visual gag in the photos of Jeffrey and Tim B!)

  • Ricardo

    Congrats to Bruce and Burton.

  • Sam Filstrup

    Timm and Burton truly deserve it, congrats to them.

  • optimist

    Congratulations to Bruce, Tim and Jeffrey. All have earned it to say the least. Great choices.

  • Why the selective congratulations in the comments above? I say congrats to all three.

  • Ethan

    Congrats to all three, and… it’s about time !!

  • Jeffrey McAndrew

    Frankenweenie as a full length animated feature? If Burton directs this, it could be sweet!

    Off topic, but did anyone else see that 2 of the upcoming Broadway musicals for next year are based off of cartoon properties?
    Addams Family and Spiderman! They’ve got to be better than Shrek the Musical!

  • james madison

    Bruce Timm – Well deserved.

    The honor bestowed upon Katzenberg is dubious. Yes, he was a figure head at Disney who could “greenlight” projects, but it was Roy E. Disney who led the charge to revive feature animation.

    Katzenberg as well as Michael Eisner sought to close the animation division. It was until Roy said said that cartooning was the soul of the company and lobby for it’s survival did things change.

    Supposedly, he (Katzenberg) changed his views but who knows? A lot of the championing of Katzenberg always seem to be a P.R. move.

    For the love of it, or for the sake of the profits? It is a corporation so that attitude/position is expected, but contributions to me seems to suggest what have you done artistically and creatively.

    Can I say Katzenberg was a visionary for saving animation, no that honor should be to Roy, should he be heralded as a creative for the movies, I think more so people like Glen Keane and the other artist who worked on the films.

    I guess the proof is in the pudding. If I can put Katzenberg in a studio, could he bring to life a feature film, whether it be through direction, storyboarding, layout, etc.?

    I don;t mean to be harsh on him and he does have some form of acumen, but I do not think it should be for an honor in animation. Movie executive, yes but not for animation.

  • One of these things is not like the other…

  • Daniel M.

    certainly congrats to ALL THREE.

    the selective congrats probly comes from the ones who have gotten on the ‘i hate dreamworks’ bandwagon, which has a very foggy rear window causing them to lose hindsight of the past Disney classics that JK presided over while heading the studio up during those years. But they were kids then, so they have an excuse to love them, now that they’re mature adults they must hate

    I’m sure one particular brewmaster is tossing and turning right now over it…ahem, cough cough

  • Ricardo

    “hindsight of the past Disney classics”

    Sorry but Katzenberg’s so called contributions to the animation community were mediocre at best. I am sick and tired of hearing films like the Little Mermaid and Beauty and Beast considered Disney classics. As for the Dreamworks stuff, I might just gag on my own vomit recalling those “films”.

  • Congrats, Timm!
    And I am especially congratulating Timm because I think compared to the other two he’s definitely not as well known even though he helped bring about a new era of tv cartoons. Batman the animated series was the first of it’s kind in the U.S. A television cartoon that could be appreciated by adults for it’s writing and storytelling, and action packed for kids. It was the only serious cartoon at the time, and brought about a new world for American television animation. Batman: the Animated Series, Superman: the animated Series, Gargoyles, Justice League [Unlimited], and Avatar: the Last Airbender.

    I just wish networks would see more value of serious series and fund more of them such as these, especially since all of them have been so successful.

  • a reader

    Whether you like him or not, it’s beyond any question that Jeffrey Katzenberg IS a major, seminal, important figure in animation and has been for almost 30 years.

    He’s almost singlehandedly responsible for the existence of Dreamworks Animation. He left Disney and started-what? AN ANIMATION STUDIO. Who else did that? How many other execs have invested their personal fortunes into such a venture? If that doesn’t prove his belief in the artform, nothing could.

    His dedication to and refusal to “drop” animation has employed hundreds of artists for 15 years now, through some tough times, never cutting staff or benefits and showing an unusual loyalty and sense of continuity towards the people who choose to work at that studio.
    He’s expressed admiration for the achievements of his competitors and the talents that work at other places over and over, in large meetings and small pitches. He doesn’t bash.

    It’s about time he got some positive tribute and recognition from the animation community. Damn.

  • drmedula

    Actually, for all of the Katzenberg-bashing around here (much of it justifiable), it’s Tim Burton whose presence on this list is really the anomaly. Terry Gilliam’s had more real, lasting influence on animation- but I doubt they’d even think of honouring him. (Having Bruce Timm honoured at the same time as Burton is a different kind of ironic-“hey, Tim, thanks for making some lame but commercially sucessful BATMAN movies- it allowed Bruce over here to get a job doing the same characters MUCH BETTER…”)

  • Michael

    Cool news!

    Tim Burton – check, Bill Plympton – check, John K – check, Mike Judge – check!

    All my favorite living animators have bagged this award now except for Don Hertzfeldt.

  • To me, Frankenweenie always seemed like Edward Scissorhands with a dog instead of Johnny Depp.

    I’ll see the movie, though.

    Tim Burton really deserves this, mainly for enabling Henry Selick and Mike Johnson to direct feature films.

    Bruce Timm deserves this because before he came along, action cartoons were boring (with the exception of Bakshi’s work on Spiderman). Good storytelling, humor, and Harley Quin/Poison Ivy sub-plots. All good improvements.

  • Marc Baker

    Out of all three of these candidates, I have to give the most props to Bruce Timm. Mostly for his revolutionary approach to action cartoons. ‘Batman:TAS’ literally changed the face of superhero animation for the better. Tim Burton, and Jeffery Katzenberg are both a mixed bag for me. While i’m not much into Burton’s visual style, he did make a dark, serious take on Batman more acceptable in the mainstream, and while the success of his ‘Bat’ movies opened the door for Timm to work on ‘BTAS’, he did a far better job of making Batman a more fleshed out character than Burton , or Joel Schumacher ever could. (At least until Christopher Nolan came along.) Katzenberg, i however, gets some props for his Disney years. He, along with Eisner, and Frank Wells really turned that company around. It’s just unfortunate that Wells had to die so unexpectedly in that plane crash that things started to get sour. Without Wells, Katzenberg, and Eisner would argue over where they wanted to take Disney at that point. (I almost can’t blame him for leaving to start Dreamworks.) However, I lost respect for Katzenberg when he deemed the pencil obsolete in the wake of the CGI craze.

  • Ricardo

    “He’s almost singlehandedly responsible for the existence of Dreamworks Animation.”

    Not almost, he didn’t. Steve Speilberg and David Geffen weren’t exactly paupers. It’s really silly to paint Katzenberg some sort of great, selfless, mesiah of art. He is a Walt Disney with his millions backing real artists but unlike Disney, he isn’t a visionary.

    drmedula: I think Burton and Gilliam both deserve the award. They are both artists. Also Burton’s Batman films gets way too much crap and it was no more different then any of the elsewhere world Bats that have appeared throughout the decades.

  • Ricardo

    “(At least until Christopher Nolan came along.)”

    Nolan’s Batman far more hollow then Burton’s.

  • a reader

    Ricardo, of the three Dreamworks founders only Katzenberg invested such a high percentage of his personal fortune. His net worth wasn’t even in the ballpark of Geffen (a billionaire) or SS. Additionally only Katzenberg was insisting on the animation studio, including doing it on a BIG scale. It was a substantial personal risk for him, but believe it or not he had faith in animation. The kind that outlasts some disappointments and keeps at it.

    I don’t see anyone calling him a “messiah” or anything like it. Just trying to add some sanity and context for the ASIFA honor devoid of the usual all-out hate one sees so often. It’s okay, you can still despise his studio.

    Anyone wonder if Tim Burton is really going to show up to get his award?

  • Ethan

    Wow, some people are relentless.

    Speilberg and Geffen didn’t care about animation, and the animation part of Dreamworks was entirely under Katzenberg’s management, He wanted an animation studio, and that’s the reason for the spinoff of DWA, which is now a completely separate from Dreamworks,

    He didn’t sell his animation studio to a big media corporation, He did the opposite, DWA is now the only major animation studio that remains independent, and they produce only animated films.

    He didn’t close disney feature animation. He started a studio from the ground up (plus PDI), and today it is a pure animation studio which employs 1700 artists and growing,

    If you don’t think he had a gigantic impact on the animation industry, I want to try what you’re smoking.

  • Daniel M.

    ‘As for the Dreamworks stuff, I might just gag on my own vomit recalling those “films”.’

    …please do.

  • Ricardo

    Regardless of who put of the money for the films, I think what Katzenberg has produced has been trite. I already admitted Katzenberg as a Disney of his time but he dosen’t have any sort of artist’s vision which guided Disney during his peak. He is the least deserving of the three being honored and should be looked down upon not only dragging Disney films into the sterile musical formula but the even more lackluster CGI Dreamworks pictures.

  • Dave G

    Jeffrey may not bash these days, but he sure as hell did at Disney.

  • a reader

    Well Dave G, people really do change; they grow older, mellow out even-and Jeffrey certainly has. This business is also very different than it was 15 years ago, and it’s also a factor that he now works for himself instead of for someone else. So yeah, he’s very frank but he doesn’t “bash”. My experience.

    I won’t keep posting about this, but it’s just so old, so tiresome to see the baseless invective again & again.

    Look, the man isn’t my buddy and he’s not anyone’s definition of warm and fuzzy: but he’s also a)put his money and career where his mouth is and b)always treated me and the rest of my crew with real respect, which is worth a lot in my daily working life. It doesn’t happen everywhere.

  • Ethan

    Ricardo, you can stop now.

    Katzenberg has been president of an animation studio longer than anyone alive today. He produced half of the top 10 animated films of all time, including the most successful 2D animated film in history, and the most successful 3D animated film in history.

    Dreamworks Animation has made the Forbes list of 100 Best Companies to Work in 2009, most attribute this to the way Katzenberg is treating his artists today. Also, never underestimate the power of a great wrap party.

  • Ricardo

    Ethan, I was going to stop but you insist on prattling on.

    “He produced half of the top 10 animated films of all time, including the most successful 2D animated film in history, and the most successful 3D animated film in history.”

    I don’t care how much money they make, that still dosen’t change my opinion of them and I think everything he has produced is crap with a capital C.

    “Dreamworks Animation has made the Forbes list of 100 Best Companies to Work in 2009, most attribute this to the way Katzenberg is treating his artists today. Also, never underestimate the power of a great wrap party.”

    Well that’s great for the people who want to work there, I don’t want to.

  • amid

    Ricardo: Ethan was pointing out reasons that Katzenberg was worthy of the award, and you responded that you don’t like his films and you don’t want to work there. It’s not about you. Five comments on this post are enough. Please let others have their say too.

  • Grimmy

    Congratulations to two talented artists and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

  • Tim Yoon

    Batman the Animated series is still the bar for action cartoons. Congrats to BT.