On Monday, September 11, 2000, the family that owns the rights to Alvin and the Chipmunks filed a US$105 million lawsuit against Universal Studios, claiming it failed to license products adequately based on the cartoon characters. According to the lawsuit filed in State Superior Court in Los Angeles, members of Chipmunks creator Ross Bagdasarian Sr.'s family claim that Universal executives told them that the studio would make Alvin, Theodore and Simon "a cornerstone" of the company's licensing efforts.
AWN Headline News
ASIFA-Hollywood, the Los Angeles area-based branch of the International Animated Film Society, has announced the nominations for the 28th Annual Annie Awards. This years competition is a much more difficult field than last years feature sweeping run by IRON GIANT. In the best feature category, FANTASIA/2000, TOY STORY 2, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO, CHICKEN RUN and TITAN A.E. will be battling it out for the top prize.
Los Angeles-based Look! Effects recently finished 30 visual effects shots for the upcoming Universal Pictures release THE PAVILION OF WOMEN. Based on the novel by Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck, the movie is about a frustrated woman in a traditional Chinese marriage and the American missionary who tries to help her achieve personal liberation. The drama stars Willem Dafoe and Chinese actress Luo Yan, who is also the writer, producer and director of the picture. Look! Effects had to create a sequence depicting Japan's invasion of China in the early days of World War II.
Stan Lee Media has bought the rights to CONAN THE BARBARIAN from Conan Properties Inc. for US$4.3 million in stock. Lee plans to turn CONAN into a Webseries. Currently, SLM is creating two other new Web series: one based off of Gene Roddenberrys STARSHIP and the second about futuristic cops. SLM currently produces Web action series 7TH PORTAL, THE ACCUSER and BACKSTREET PROJECT. Stan Lee Media is a publicly traded Web-based superhero-type content producer, started by comic book legend Stan Lee, the co-creator of SPIDER-MAN and THE HULK.
* Saturday, October 14, 2000. Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Teen Comic Age 2000 is a festival highlighting teen comic and animation artists. Presented by the Los Angeles Public Library, the event will feature portfolio reviews, comic and animation workshops, panel discussions, celebrity signings and student, computer and anime animation screenings. The festival takes place from 10 am 5:30 pm and admission is free. For more information contact the library at: Tel.: (213) 228-7510; or Web: www.lapl.org.
Editing Concepts Jesse Reisner combined live-action and graphics for two new 30-second spots for a new Kids Footlocker campaign. In "Super Hero," star Captain Velocity is going through his morning routine, until his emergency phone rings and he zooms off leaving a trail of smoke behind. In "Street Ball," city teens gather for an intense game of basketball, while a series of graphics pop-up to note the difference between the game as they play it and how basketball is played in a gym. "We knew going in that the graphics would play a huge role in the spot," said Reisner.
Quiet Man has created the "ground breaking" visual effects for Planters Nuts newest spot. In the spot, a group of golfers say to each other "gophers don't like nuts," making a rodent do a double take and uproot the putting green by tunneling a likeness of the Planters mascot "Mr. Peanut." "The challenge on the Planters spot came toward the end of the project," said Phalana Dias, Quiet Man visual effects artist. "The gopher's double take wasn't boarded, but it was a good idea, so it was up to me to animate the gopher's head using Inferno.
Olive Jar Studios Inc. will be the exclusive U.S. representation of veteran director Bruce Alcock and his Vancouver-based company Global Mechanic. Alcock, the former creative director and co-founder of Tricky Pictures, joins Olive Jar with a resume featuring live-action with mixed-media, design-based drawn animation, stop-motion and experimental computer animation. Olive Jars executive creative director Fred Macdonald said, "I have been a big fan of Bruces work, and, having bid against Tricky Pictures in the past, know that Bruce is one of the few true experimental directors.
Peter J. Schankowitz has been appointed Film Romans new president of television programming and development. Schankowitz will oversee all aspects of the companys TV development and sales, including developing live-action and animated series and specials. For the past two years, he has been senior development executive for Jonathan Goodson Productions where he headed the creation and executive producing of the companys reality and game projects.
SGI announced that it would be providing Walt Disney Feature Animation with more than 500 of its Silicon Graphics visual workstations, which will include their new Silicon Graphics Octane2. Previously, Disney has used SGI workstations to create digital characters and special effects for their features GONE IN 60 SECONDS, MISSION TO MARS, DINOSAUR and the upcoming 102 DALMATIANS. The Silicon Graphics Octane2 has more visualization power, a high-performance MIPS RISC processor and new industry-first features.
Seattle-based Smarterville, Inc., a Web-based childrens media company, announced the launch of its Web site, smarterville.com. This is the first Web site to integrate ad-free learning for kids aged 3-7 safely with a revenue-generating destination for parents. Activities featuring animated characters are geared to the childs age, grade and skill level. A system of animated rewards encourages the child to return to the site. The activities are downloaded so children cannot jump to another location online, and no unauthorized people can send messages to the child.
Nickelodeon and HIT Entertainment PLC, a leading supplier of children's programming, have agreed to co-produce 26 half-hour episodes of a new Nick Jr. series entitled, OSWALD. As part of the deal, HIT Entertainment will control all international rights in all media excluding the U.S., which Nickelodeon will handle. The show tells the story of a blue octopus who lives in a whimsical city with his best friends, a pet hot dog, penguin and daisy. The animated series, which will be produced by Nicktoons, is based on characters created and designed by childrens book author Dan Yaccarino.
Digital Creative Development Corporation (DC2) announced that it has entered into a strategic distribution alliance with Heavy.com, a Web destination blending music, video and animation. Under the terms of the deal, DC2 will provide programming and various other business services to Heavy.com. In turn, DC2 will have access to Heavy.coms distribution pipeline that reaches over 135 million Internet users.
The WB TV network has decided to pick-up its newest toon, BABY BLUES, for a second season. The channel has ordered 13 more episodes of the series, which debuted in late July. The toon has preformed well in a tough Friday time slot for the WB and is one of the highest rated comedies the network has ever had. BABY could serve as the WBs quick replacement series if any of its new live-action comedy series dont work out. BABY is based off the newspaper comic strip of the same name and features the voice talents of Mike O'Malley, Julia Sweeney and Nicole Sullivan.
High Dynamic Range Imaging is quickly becoming a prevalent digital technique. The ability to light quickly to live-action footage with such accuracy and quality is unmatched by any other technique. Lightwave has already incorporated HDRI into its latest release. Which other packages will follow suit? Rendering with HDRI is time consuming, but will the strong points overcome the deficits? The high quality results of THE MATRIX work by Manex, and the James Brown project, FUNK BLAST by Digital Domain suggest much more work in HDRI will be created as CPU's gain speed and the software evolves.
Messiah, the plug-in softbody and character module for Lightwave, has developed a stand alone package, messiah:studio, that should prove to be strong competition to 3D software packages. With Renderman capabilities, a low price tag (US$1600), softbodies for creating cloth and realistic characters, inverse kinematics for simplified animation, and radiosity for realistic rendering, it will be interesting to see how other packages react to messiah's strengths.
The international box office this past weekend saw a strong debut by SCARY MOVIE in the U.K. and THE TIGGER MOVIE bounced high in its Swedish nod. Disneys orange idol landed in #2, with a gross of US$280,418. Slipping to fourth, CHICKEN RUN laid another $184,548, bringing its total take in Sweden to $589,026. THE PERFECT STORM sank from #2 to sixth with a gross of $146,588, raising its Swedish cume to $834,053. X-MEN fell from fifth to eighth, with a gross of $78,087, lifting its Swedish cume to $1.43 million.
iFilm has set up an online screening room specifically for agents to check out iFilm shorts before they are released to the public. So far agencies CAA, ICM, the Gersh Agency and the United Talent Agency have signed on to participate in the program. Even before the new "Screening Network" was established iFilm short, 405: THE MOVIE, by Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt, landed the filmmakers CAA representation. iFilm is a content destination site that contains its own shorts and links to various work around the Web.