Classic Media, a newly created investment group featuring former Golden Books chief Eric Ellenbogen, former chairman of Universal Studios and CEO of Viacom Inc. Frank Biondi and producer Steve Tisch, agreed to purchase a 60% stake in Harvey Entertainment in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about US$30 million. Currently, it is unclear how the move will effect Harveys management structure, but Classic Media officials have said they will be active in company discussions.
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The anime title, THE PROFESSIONAL: GOLGO 13 will be re-released on video. Hitting stores on VHS August 29, 2000, THE PROFESSIONAL follows hitman Duke Togo who has the cross hairs turned on him after he assassinates the son of a notorious industrial tycoon, Golgo. The film is based on the popular comic book series of the same name. Osamu Dezaki directed the film. The new release from Urban Vision Entertainment will have an English dubbed and English subtitled version, selling for US$19.95 and $29.95, respectively.
Europes top selling toy ACTION MAN has made it to American shelves. The entire Hasbro ACTION MAN toy line brings in US$300 million a year overseas and $1 billion in brand sales over the last five years. Various extreme sport versions of Action Man have hit the shelves along with his arch nemesis Dr. X. The figures range from $7.99 to $29.99. "Action Man has been huge overseas," said Perry Drosos, VP of U.S. marketing for ACTION MAN. "In fact, it has been the top-selling action figure line in Europe for several years. Right now, 80% of boys ages four to ten in the U.K.
Highlighted by a gala bash at the Hard Rock Café in Orlando, Florida on August 27, Stan Lee Media will unveil their new Webseries, THE BACKSTREET PROJECT, featuring superhero-likenesses of the singing group sensation, the Backstreet Boys. The promotional push will also include a marketing campaign, featuring CDs and action figure toys, at the Burger King restaurant chain. "We are thrilled that the Backstreet/Burger King promotion will be one of the largest promotions ever to support an Internet entertainment franchise," said SLM president and CEO, Kevin Williams.
Playboy TV is ready to unveil its newest TV series, the completely CGI animated satire/adventure, DARK JUSTICE. Debuting on September 3, 2000 at 10 pm, the 3D toon chronicles the exploits of Justina, a vigilante vixen who must dodge the pursuits of the law as she fights Metro Citys most dangerous villains. Adult filmmaker Michael Ninn directs the series. "Playboy's Dark Justice is the ideal animated series for Playboy TV," said Jim English, president, Playboy TV Networks Worldwide.
In conjunction with the DVD and VHS release of FANTASIA/2000 on November 14, Disney will release FANTASIA on DVD with never-before-seen footage. The FANTASIA DVD will include the original intermission, narration and cut animated scene "Clair de Lune." An additional feature on the FANTASIA/2000 DVD will be a special showcase of Disneys highest digital video and audio quality to date. Also, Disney will offer a three-disc FANTASIA anthology set.
Aspiring actors can breathe a collective sigh of relief. The news item, originally reported in the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and then trickled down through many media sources, that director Andrew Niccol had chosen to create a CGI lead for his next dramatic film, SIMONE, is incorrect. Apparently, the REPORTER confused production information with the plot, which tells the story of a producer (Al Pacino) whose lead actress walks off the set. He then replaces her with a life-like CGI actress which he tries to pass off as real.
The first commercial for the Center for Digital Imaging and Sound (CDIS) includes a clip from VANCOUVER UNDER ATTACK, created by CDIS Visual Effects and Digital Animation (VEDA) Program graduate Sean McQuarrie. The excerpt shows a monstrous alien space craft hovering above Vancouver Science World before unleashing a laser beam that blows up the centre. "It involved two days of filming in DVC Pro and miniDV formats," said McQuarrie. "To get the mix right, I used Maya, Maya Live and the Discreet Station for building up 20 layers of visual effects in total.
TOPIX/Mad Dog has wrapped up the 3D animation and design elements for the new 30-second spot for Kelloggs All-Bran Buds. "Chart" features an anatomical poster of the insides of a healthy woman, who leaps from the wall when no one is around to enjoy a bowl of Kelloggs All-Bran Buds. TOPIX/Mad Dog producer Diana D'amelio said the 3D character "began as a real woman shot on set, wearing a body-stocking, actually going through the actions in a series of takes. We then recreated her as a glass figure, with a skeletal structure and a stylized heart and circulatory system.
* Tuesday, September 12 Thursday, September 14, 2000. Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Digital Coast 2000 will explore the digital transformation of entertainment and Southern Californias ever expanding Internet economy. Presented in association with the Directors Guild of America and NATPE, the event will bring together Southern Californian senior executives, artists and technologists to discuss the evolution of entertainment in the digital age. For more information: Tel.: (800) 628-7346; or Web: www.natpe.org.
* Tuesday, September 12, 2000. San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Robin Allen will discuss his book EUROPEAN INFLUENCES ON WALT DISNEY and the images that influenced Disney artists. Dr. Allens research is based on interviews with the artists who created the features and short films made by Disney. The event gives a rare chance to discuss the influences on Disney films from SNOW WHITE to THE JUNGLE BOOK. For more information contact Karl Cohen at: (415) 386-1044.
planetLingo, an Internet-based language learning company, has hired three former Disney executives John Feenie as president and CEO; Cedric Astor as executive VP and CFO; and Greg Probert as executive VP and head of content and curriculum. Previously, Feenie served as executive VP, China Affairs for Disney, in which he was responsible for all of the companys activities in China. For planetLingo, Feenie will help establish markets around the globe. Most recently, Astor served as senior VP for Disney consumer products in Europe/Middle East/Africa.
Serving as the major animation festival in South America, Anima Mundi has rolled out its list of winners for the 2000 competition in both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The festivals goal of highlighting different styles and points of view was achieved with a list of winners from around the world. From Portuguese director José Miguel Ribeiro, A SUSPEITA took home the top prize in both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The five-day event drew 16,000 people.
Nickelodeons newest series DORA THE EXPLORER debuted as the highest rated show in Nick Jr. history. The Monday, August 14 11 am airing scored an 11.22/43 rating/share (1.3 million viewers) among kids 2-5 years old. To top its own success the second airing of DORA at 11:30 am scored a 12.85/48 rating/share (1.5 million viewers) among kids 2-5 years old. The new series beat out the September 9, 1996 premiere of BLUES CLUES, which scored a 10.68/48 rating/share among the same demographic.
Quincy Jones Media Group and Gerber Pictures have teamed with Warner Bros. to bring the Looney Tunes characters back to the big screen in a feature film currently known as "untitled Looney Tunes car project." According to the DAILY VARIETY, the pic will use classic characters, like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, in live-action sequences much like the 1996 film, SPACE JAM. Ken Kaufman, co-writer of Warners SPACE COWBOYS, has been brought on to write the script. Quincy Jones president Joel Simon and Gerber head Billy Gerber are set to produce the film. Overseeing the project for Warner Bros.
Disneys delightful feature, THE TIGGER MOVIE, has bounced into homes. The adventures of the orange cat and his pal, Roo, hit video stores on VHS and DVD on August 22, 2000. The film was directed by Jun Falkenstein and the legendary Sherman Brothers provided the songs. On a lonely day when no one in the Hundred Acre Wood has time to bounce with Tigger, the swing-tailed tiger decides he will set out to find other Tiggers to play with. The VHS tape will sell for US$24.99 and the DVD for $29.99.
This weeks international box office saw big premieres for X-MEN and GONE IN 60 SECONDS and the quick disappearance of THE PATRIOT. In the U.K., X-MEN hit it big with a stellar US$7.08 million three-day take. The mighty mutants had the second highest opening of the year behind TOY STORY 2 and the eighth highest in the countrys history. Holding on at #2, STUART LITTLE landed another $1.11 million, lifting its British cume to $20.24 million. GONE IN 60 SECONDS slipped from first to third, with a gross of $952,847, raising its British cume to $7.95 million.
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FRAISER-star Kelsey Grammer and his production company, Grammnet, has signed an exclusive deal with MediaTrip to develop and distribute original content. The first series coming from the new pact will be the toon GARY THE RAT. The Webtoon will chronicle the trials of a lawyer turned giant rat and his death-defying run-ins with exterminator Johnny Bugz. Mark Cullen (writer/producer of HITZ) and his brother Rob created RAT. Grammer and the Cullen Brothers will executive produce, while MediaTrip will produce and finance the project. Both companies will share in the profits.
Warner Bros. has set into motion pre-production on a live-action rendition of BATMAN BEYOND. Tapped to direct the picture is Boaz Yakin, director of PRICE ABOVE RUBIES and the upcoming REMEMBER THE TITANS. The most exciting news is that long time BATMAN/SUPERMAN and BATMAN BEYOND writers Paul Dini and Alan Burnett have been asked to scribe the feature. No budget has been set, but AINT IT COOL NEWS has rumored that funds will be determined based on the script Dini and Burnett write.
With the summer money flow slowing down, THE CELL captured the top spot in another fairly low ticket sale weekend in the U.S. The ALICE IN WONDERLAND meets SILENCE OF THE LAMBS thriller, with primary visual effects by Toybox, grossed US$17.52 million. Showing that old guys have legs, SPACE COWBOYS settled in third with a gross of $9.48 million. Falling a spot behind the debut of the stage comedy film THE ORIGINAL KINGS OF COMEDY, COWBOYS, with primary visual effects by ILM, has rounded up $53.78 million thus far. Rising a slot to finish fifth, WHAT LIES BENEATH floated another $6.76 million.
Catherine Winder has been named VP of 20th Century Fox Animation. Winder will oversee physical production and creative development for the divisions projects. She will be based in Los Angeles and will help Blue Sky during its transformation from a special effects and commercials house into a 3D-animation feature studio. Previously, Winder served as an independent producer and consultant for Fox Animation, Disney Television Animation and Warner Bros. Television Animation.
David Hayter, the only writer credited on screen for the blockbuster hit X-MEN, has been brought in to scribe the sequel to PITCH BLACK and rewrite THE HULK. PITCH BLACK 2 continues where the first film left off and will be produced by Interscope, producers of the original. PITCH star Vin Diesel has been signed to return. Currently, THE HULK project has scripts from Michael Tolkin (THE PLAYER, DEEP IMPACT) and Mike France (CLIFFHANGER). Hayter will morph the two HULK versions into one script like he did for X-MEN.
Stan Lee Media, Inc. (SLM) has teamed with Venture Soft Co., Ltd., Asia's leading creator and aggregator of anime and manga, to form a joint venture that will bring SLM's superhero and fantasy story franchises to Asia. Coming on the heels of a similar deal with Fox Kids Latin America, the Asian venture will be called SLM Japan and will continue SLMs strategy to partner with strong regional communication companies to introduce its branded content via the Internet and then leveraging it into global partnerships.