Oriental DreamWorks

* Oriental DreamWorks, the joint venture between DreamWorks and a consortium of Chinese investors, has announced that its first feature will be released in 2016. Katzenberg is in Shanghai this week reviewing at least seven different film proposals vying to be the studio’s first feature. The studio plans to “closely link elements of Chinese history, culture and literature in its various productions.” More details in this news article.

* Craig McCracken (The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) is comign back to TV with a new TV series called Wander Over Yonder for the Disney Channel. The Disney TV Animation-produced show, scheduled for the 2012-13 season, is about:

Wander is an overly-optimistic intergalactic traveler who, along with his loyal but bullish steed, Sylvia, goes from planet to planet helping people to live free and have fun, all against the evil reign of Lord Hater and his army of Watchdogs.

* Composer Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) talked animation in the Wall Street Journal:

What do you think of the shift in animated film earnestness to irony?
Menken: Ironic is OK. You can have a Sebastian [the crab in The Little Mermaid], as you can have a Jiminy Cricket. They can be adult and smart. However, they can’t be culturally or morally subversive, in that Disney sensibility. Rango and things like that are edgier. In general, the animated medium lends itself to a sweetness.

Do you personally connect to that?
Menken: I first appreciated that medium back in the 1980s when the AIDS crisis had hit full force and everybody–my gay collaborators and friends–was dying. I was so scared for my daughter, Anna, and the only thing that could soothe me was those Disney animated films that were coming out on VHS. It was so safe.

* How did I miss the news that Glenn Beck’s online network GBTV is currently developing an animated comedy series with Icebox. Yes, that Icebox. A lot of readers may be too young to remember Icebox.com, but they were among the more notorious animation dot-com busts in the late-1990s and a punchline for jokes about what happens when sitcom writers try to make funny cartoons.