On May 11, 2000, the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences will hand out their top honors of the year with PC game AGE OF EMPIRES II leading the field with 7 nominations. Held in Los Angeles, this, the third edition, will be hosted by comedian Martin Short. Members of the Academy with expertise in each area formed review panels to vote for the winners. The award for game of the year, computer game of the year and console game of the year was voted on by all of the eligible members of the Academy. This years competition saw over 350 entries from 60 different companies.
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Cinar has been quiet about an internal investigation looking into the use of company funds to renovate the co-founders Montreal home. No comment, was all Suzan Ayscough would give the press about co-founders Micheline Charest and Ronald Weinberg using almost CA$500,000 (US$348,000) of company funds to touch up their home without the knowledge of the board of directors. In March, Charest stepped down from her positions as co-CEO and chairman and Weinberg left his post as president and co-CEO.
SOUTH PARK creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have signed a three-year deal with Comedy Central. The profanity purveyors announced an exclusive multimillion-dollar deal with the cable network ending rumors they were fleeing to ABC for a $1 million an episode pact. The deal calls for 30 new episodes of SOUTH PARK and a new live-action series to debut next year. "For the last three years we have been exceptionally lucky to have our show on a network that respects creative freedom," said Parker.
On Tuesday, May 2, 2000, Swatch, a world leading watch producer, and AtomFilms, a leader in Internet entertainment, announced a partnership to seek independent creative talent for an animated Swatch "Internet Time" ad campaign. The jointly organized competition is open to Flash animators from around the globe. Winners will help Swatch develop an Internet communication campaign. Peter Fonda, two-time Academy Award nominee, will join Swatch and AtomFilms as one of the advisory judges for the contest.
Morgan Wandell, VP of programming at Digital Entertainment Network, has left his post. Though a pleasant split, the decision was due to his unhappiness over DENs move to acquire programming instead of developing original content. Recently, the entertainment destination obtained programming from ACE VENTURA director Steve Oedekerks Thumb.com. Wandell told the Daily Variety, "Theres just less for me to do now.
Independent film producers are calling foul over the amount of funds going to Quebec. French-language productions are guaranteed at least a third of the CA$200-million a year provided by the Canadian Television Fund (CTF) and Quebec-based film companies this year are receiving nearly 40% of the federal funds. Another sore point is that in years past Cinar Corp., the Montreal-based producer of childrens series, has received as much federal funding as the entire Alberta industry. Currently, Cinar is under investigation for using false Canadian names on scripts by U.S.
The heirs of Chico and Harpo Marx dont like being left out of the Groucho estates desire to go ahead with an animated series based on the three silly siblings. Friday, April 28, 2000, U.S. district judge Dickran Teverizian stopped the distribution of a new toon until the three brothers estates can come to an agreement over financial issues. Chico and Harpos heirs contest that the Groucho estate bamboozled them by hiding the TV deal and not sharing the US$130,00 paid for the rights.
POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE and STUART LITTLE are struggling over who will nab the top spot at international box offices. For the week ending April 26, 2000, POKEMON took Spain and Italy. Around the globe POKEMON finished in 2nd in the U.K. in its second weekend in theatres; 3rd in Germany in its second weekend in theatres; and 4th in France and Sweden. Already in the U.K., POKEMON has grossed a total of $13.14 million in only one week of release. STUART LITTLE finished at #1 in Germany, Australia and Hong Kong.
Three members of Hollywoods top talent has signed on to voice characters in Warner Bros. live-action-animated flick, LIKE CATS AND DOGS -- Academy award winner Susan Sarandon (DEAD MAN WALKING), Tobey Maguire (CIDER HOUSE RULES) and Academy award nominee Michael Clarke Duncan (THE GREEN MILE). Maguire will voice the lead pup who helps protect a dog allergy vaccine from a crew of crafty cats. Bringing life to the pups street-wise mentor mutt will be Sarandon, who recently provided voice work for the upcoming RUGRATS IN PARIS.
Popular syndicated cartoonist Rich Moyer and Celluloid Studios has exploded onto the Web with a new entertainment site called Bunny Grenade. Celluloid Studios executive producer Olivier Katz will oversee the new Net company as executive producer. Rich Moyer is known for his one panel comic strip ICK, which he has now left to focus on Bunny Grenade. Moyer said the main reason for coming to the Web is the chance to "connect with the audience and get them more involved.
Station X Studios Project: Messiah 3D animation development team, composed of Station X president and co-founder Fori Owurowa, Station X co-founder Dan Milling and software developer Lyle Milton, have spawned a new Santa Monica-based visual effects production facility. The yet-to-be-named new companys business plan is to enhance and expand the character animation tools introduced with Project: Messiah at SIGGRAPH 99. The new production house will keep close ties to Station X and the three principals will remain shareholders.
The two guys behind Nova Scotia-based RDAStudio's TALES OF IRTH have signed a deal to produce the Flash animated series for DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment's new Web venture POP.com. About a year ago, Robert Leth, 47, and Frank Forrestall, 27, started working together to bring Forrestalls fantasy TALES OF IRTH to the Web. POP.com has been actively searching the Net for intelligent and forward thinking Webisodes to bring to POP.com. Jamie Tosi, head of Flash animation at POP.com said to AWN, "TALES OF IRTH is very sophisticated, but with a subtle humor.
Universals submarine sensation, U-571, has left new films in its wake as it sails into the #1 spot at the U.S. box office for the second straight week. The World War II flick finished atop new comers THE FLINTSTONES VIVA ROCK VEGAS and FREQUENCY with a gross of US$12.2 million and floating its total box office take to $38.11 million. Rolling into second place was Universals prequel to their 1994 hit THE FLINTSTONES. With a new cast, the prehistoric pic, with primary visual effects by Metrolight Studios, "rocked" up $10.52 million.
Ben Stein, the host of Comedy Central's hit gameshow WIN BEN STEIN'S MONEY, will have his own animated gameshow on Shockwave.com. Stein has signed a deal with Shockwave to create an on-line game, a series of e-greeting cards and a daily poll for Shockwave visitors. The single and multi-player game asks questions which Stein calls knowledge --rather than trivia -- based. Stein will have a toon likeness helm the show and sponsors of the series will offer the prizes.
Hasbro has signed a multi-year deal with HIT Entertainment for the licensing rights to their successful toon, BOB THE BUILDER. The current BBC series is scheduled to debut on Nick Jr. sometime next year. BOB garners 52% of the pre-school audience in the U.K. for its time period. Last holiday season the toys based on the series sold out in the U.K. Hasbro hopes that the series will build the same kind of fan base in the States as other foreign imports have done recently. Currently, Mainframe is producing a series called ACTION MAN based off Hasbro's British toy line of the same name.
Rhino is releasing the action stuffed soundtrack to the POWERPUFF GIRLS. On July 18, 2000, "Heroes and Villains" will hit shelves with music performed by top alternative artists. Songs from the series and inspired by the Powerpuff Girls will be featured on the album. Artists such as David Byrne, Devo, Frank Black, Shonen Knife, Apples In Stereo, Optiganally Yours, Kormeda, Cornelius, The Sugarplastic, Dressy Bessy and Bis will be featured. Series creator Craig McCracken set out to find bands that inspire him to participate on the compilation.
Kevin Tsujihara has temporarily taken the reigns of Warner Bros. Entertaindom Web site. As reported [AWN 4/6/00], Entertaindom.com president and CEO Jim Moloshok, executive VP Jim Banister and third-in-command Jeff Weiner have exited their Time Warner posts. Sources said the top trio was angry about Time Warner's decision not to spawn a separate Entertaindom IPO. The final impetus leading to the leave was when the three execs were not satisfied by the stock options offered to them by Time Warner.
Seattle, Washington-based Jet City Studios, a children's Internet
production studio, is looking for 2D ANIMATORS. Flash and Shockwave
experience a plus. . . Hollywood, California-based REZN8 is looking
for 3D ANIMATORS for modeling, texturing, animating and compositing.
. . West Hollywood, California-based Ring of Fire Studios is looking
for a 3D DEPARTMENT HEAD/CGI ANIMATOR. . . Pixel Envy, Inc., a
leading producer of visual effects for film and video, is seeking a
The World Animation Celebration (WAC) will feature Bill Plympton's works
in a midnight show called "Guilty Pleasures."