AWN Headline News
Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures have tapped top Hollywood actors to voice characters in their upcoming 3D animated feature, JIMMY, NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS. Patrick Stewart (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION) and Martin Short (INNER SPACE) have signed on to voice characters for the film. The film will chronicle Jimmy's journey into space as he attempts to rescue all the parents from his town who have been kidnapped by the alien Yokians. The feature will start production under the direction of John Davis in January. The scheduled release date is holidays 2001.
Oscar-winning director/actor Billy Bob Thornton is teaming with Acme Productions on a new TV animated series. The currently untitled series is based on an idea by Thornton about a father who has been in a garage band for the past twenty years. The SLINGBLADE director will team with Emmy-winning SIMPSONS writer, Ron Hauge, on developing the project. Thornton will also voice the main character. Acme Production is the six-month-old production company formed by former 20th Century Fox executives Mindy Schultheis and Michael Hanel.
NewTek has reinforced its commitment to the Macintosh platform by announcing that their newly released Lightwave [6.5] will also be available for Apples new OS X platform. Although NewTek only released Lightwave  on the MAC earlier this year, they have slowly moved their efforts toward the fruity platform.
Toon Boom Technologies has announced its participation in RealNetworks' RealPartner program to refine USAnimation further to work well with RealNetworks' RealSystem. "We're pleased Toon Boom technologies has chosen to support RealSystem and we welcome Toon Boom into the RealPartner Program," said Geoff Walker, senior developer relations manager, RealNetworks, Inc.
Fox Licensing and Merchandising will unveil a whole slate of new SIMPSONS inspired products at Toy Fair in February. Fox has struck a deal with USAopoly to turn the town of Springfield into the classic Monopoly game. Instead of coveting Boardwalk game players will seek out the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. This new Monopoly take off comes after the release of the hot SIMPSONS "Clue" game, which is selling out at various stores around the U.S. Six new Playmate interactive figures will be released including Sunday Best Homer, Moe, Nelson, Milhouse and Kamp Krusty Bart.
WireBreak Entertainment has restructured its business model to fight going under. As a result, the company has laid off most of its staff except for a few key executives. Started in October 1988, the company quickly moved from being a Web destination site to an online producer and syndicator. Now the firm is moving away from Web content and focusing on interactive television, television and film. Current projects will be outsourced to other production houses.
Creative Planet Inc., a business-to-business solutions firm for the film and TV production industries and parent company of Animation World Network, laid off 72 employees, or 20% of the work staff, on Wednesday, December 13, 2000. The move comes on the heels of the company securing US$30 million in financing from United News & Media PLC. "These reductions are unfortunate," said Creative Planet chairman and CEO Alan DeBevoise. "But we have acquired a number of companies, and as you're scaling and integrating and market conditions change, we have had to streamline the organization.
The Munich state prosecutor, Manfred Wick, has begun a probe into allegations that EM.TV, the German family production and merchandising company, has participated in insider trading and other stock market violations. The investigation will focus on EM.TV CEO Thomas Haffa and his brother, Florian, who recently resigned from company's board. This move comes on the heels of investors filing suit last week against the company after EM.TV cut its year-end profit forecast by 90%.
DIC Entertainment is teaming with Tomopoulos Prods. and Jake Steinfeld's Body by Jake Enterprises to create a new animated TV series entitled CAMP JAKE. The show will follow the exploits of the rebellious kids who go to summer camp to get in shape. The companies have agreed to produce 26 initial episodes of the cartoon.
Mondo Media has signed a deal with Renegade Animation and Will Ryan Prods. to syndicate their award-winning Webtoon ELMO AARDVARK: OUTER SPACE DETECTIVE! The series features some of Hollywood's top voice talent including June Foray (Rocky, the Flying Squirrel), Diane Michelle (ALLY MCBEAL, MICKEY MOUSEWORKS), Corey Burton (DUDLEY DO-RIGHT, GUMMI BEARS), Keith Scott (ROCKY & BULLWINKLE: THE MOVIE) and Will Ryan (THE LAND
The Walt Disney Co. has inked a deal with Japan's second-largest toy maker, Tomy Co. Ltd., to market, produce and distribute its toys and games in Japan. The exclusive deal does allow Tomy to sublicense certain products to other toy producers. The pact takes affect in April 2001. "This agreement completes a restructuring of our toy business that we began in September, when we established licensing arrangements with Hasbro and Mattel," said Andy Mooney, president of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide.
DreamWorks is releasing its animated feature THE ROAD TO EL DORADO on VHS and DVD December 12, 2000. In conjunction with the release, DreamWorks is running a national "Instant Win" campaign for the opportunity to win the grand prize of US$1 million. The film follows friends Tulio and Miguel and their search for the mysterious city of gold. EL DORADO stars the voices of Kevin Kline (Tulio), Kenneth Branagh (Miguel), Edward James Olmos (The Chief), Armand Assante (Tzekel-Kan) and Rosie Perez (Chel).
Anime 18, a top distributor of erotic anime, is releasing MAGIC WOMAN M on video December 12, 2000. Nineteen-year-old Meru is a sorceress who battles unsavory beasts with her explosive power unleashed during the state of pure ecstasy. The 60-minute adventure will sell for US$29.99.
Dimension Home Video is proud to present Miramax's highest grossing film of all time SCARY MOVIE on DVD. Hitting stores December 12, 2000, the sidesplitting teen horror movie spoof was directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans and features visual effects by Centropolis Effects. The DVD will feature a behind-the-scenes featurette; six additional scenes; theatrical trailer; French language track; Spanish subtitles; and DVD-Rom bonuses. The film will retail for US$ $29.99.
DIC Entertainment has named Kaaren Lee Brown senior VP in charge of creative affairs. She will oversee project development and act as a liaison to broadcasters and rights-holders. DIC's current productions that she will head are SUPER DUPER SUMOS, POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC, MARY-KATE AND ASHLEY: MOVIE TOONS and SALEM. Previous positions Brown has held are VP of entertainment licensing for Full Moon Productions, VP of entertainment licensing at Tyco Toys, VP of acquisitions at Hanna-Barbera and director of licensing at Mattel.
Wild Brain, Inc. announced the appointment of John A. Schwallie as the company's new chief financial officer. As CFO, he will oversee all financial and IT, Facilities and HR operations. Previously, he served as CFO of London-based Central European Media Enterprises (CME), a publicly traded company. While there he helped launch and operate NOVA TV, CME's first national broadcast television station in the Czech Republic. "We are very pleased to welcome someone of John's caliber to Wild Brain," said Jeff Ulin, CEO of Wild Brain, Inc.
One more avenue for Web content to make the jump to TV is dead. ABC has pulled the plug after only one airing of the series DOT COMEDY, which aired comedic shorts from the Internet. The Friday, December 8 broadcast scored a 2.8 rating/5 share -- one of the worst ratings for a regularly scheduled program in ABC history. The show's immediate replacement until January will be repeats of the live-action comedy TWO GUYS AND A GIRL, then the fourth installment of WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE will take the slot.
UPN will finally premiere the long-in-the-works GARY & MIKE stop-motion animated series. The series will begin airing Friday, January 12, 2001 at 8 pm. In a major show of support for the toon, a special preview episode will air on Thursday, January 11, 2001 at 9:30 pm following UPN's top rated show WWF SMACKDOWN!
Mainframe Entertainment, Inc. and Studio B Productions have announced their first co-development project for television entitled SURF N TURF. The traditional cel and CGI animated series is a multiple segment comedy property created by Amanda Connor and Jim Palmiotti. In 1991, Palmiotti began his career with Marvel Comics and has since worked for DC Comics and Fleer on such titles as SUPERMAN, BATMAN THE MOVIE and KID DEATH AND ASH, which has been optioned for a feature film by DreamWorks SKG. Connor's work can be seen in MAD MAGAZINE, THE NEW YORK TIMES and BARBIE FASHION.
Jack S. Liebowitz, the comic book publisher who first brought Superman to the page, passed away on Monday, December 11 at his home in Great Neck, New York. He was 100 years old. Liebowitz immigrated to New York in 1910 from his birthplace in Proskurov, Ukraine. He and his partner, former pulp magazine publisher Harry Donenfeld, started publishing the series DETECTIVE COMICS in 1937. This title was the first successful comic centering on one theme. The series later provided the name for the company DC Comics.
Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment have secured a star and director for the UNDERCOVER BROTHER feature. Based off the UrbanEntertainment.com cartoon series, the live-action film will star Eddie Griffin (MOD SQUAD) and Malcolm Lee (BEST MEN) will direct. The UNDERCOVER BROTHER Webseries was one of the first Webtoons to make the jump to film. John Ridley (THREE KINGS) signed a US$2 million deal to pen and executive produce the feature adaptation.
Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies have announced that the third installment of the RUGRATS movie franchise will team the precocious tykes with the characters from Nick's THE WILD THORNBERRYS. Los Angeles animation house Klasky Csupo, who produces the TV versions of THE RUGRATS and THE WILD THORNBERRYS, will produce the feature film with Paramount distributing it. No release date has been set of yet. The second edition of the theatrical franchise, RUGRATS IN PARIS, now in theaters, has grossed US$60.5 million to date and reportedly cost only $30 million to make.
Munich officials are looking into several lawsuits that have been brought against kid media and merchandising company EM.TV. One case was filed by the German shareholders association DSW, which claims that EM.TV executives repeatedly held back information about their financial problems. EM.TV's financial concerns started when they first announced the cutting of revenues due to accounting errors in the acquisition of the Jim Henson Co. and Formula One racing.
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