Former Disney chairman Joe Roths Revolution Studios, a film and television production company, has released the details regarding the roles that its investors will serve. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Starz! Encore Group and Fox Entertainment Groups were among the investors that have sunk US$3 billion into the five-month old production house. Additionally, Revolution has gained a controlling stake in the on-line entertainment channel MediaTrip.com.
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Speaking at an investors conference in London, Viacom president and COO, Mel Karmazin, emphasized to attendees that if UPN doesnt begin to make a profit it would either be shut down or sold off. Karmazin said Viacom expects UPN to meet the performance criteria set for all its operating divisions. The total losses for the five-year old network have risen to nearly $800 million. "UPN will become profitable, or it wont exist," Karmazin said.
Thirteen of the largest computer and video game producers have filed suit against six game pirates who have been selling bootleg titles over the Net. The suit claims that James Cabot of Brook Park, Ohio; C. Graves of Raleigh, North Carolina; Tim Knoblich of Daytona Beach, Florida; Travis Lallman of Burley, Idaho; Derek Rufo of Vancouver, British Columbia; and Carol Scott of Columbia, South Carolina allegedly copied games, advertised them on six separate Web sites and sold them via mail.
Pulse Entertainment has received US$35 million in private equity funding led by Softbank Venture Capital, and others like Time Warners Web destination Entertaindom and Autodesk Inc. As part of the deal, exclusive content will be provided by Pulse for Entertaindom. "We cant release the names yet, but we have at least two shows in production," said Pulse CEO Fred Angelopoulos. However, the shows will come from Entertaindoms access to the Warner Bros. portfolio of characters. Currently, Pulse produces a 3D Webtoon based on the Looney Toons character Marvin the Martian.
After only two airings, ABC has cancelled Kevin Smiths animated TV series CLERKS. The teen-targeted toon debuted on May 31 with a poor rating of 5.2 and slipped to a 4.1 for its Tuesday, June 6 episode. Insiders say that ABC became initially scared of the toon when advertisers balked on its edgy humor. The series was original scheduled to be a 1999-2000 midseason replacement series. Advertising jitters may have lead to ABCs decision to make the toon a summer release, which drew much publicized heat from creator Kevin Smith [AWN 3/13/00].
BKN International, a childrens animated series production, distribution and marketing company, announced their acquisition of France-based Arles Animation. Arles has worked on series such as WACKY WORLD OF TEX AVERY, SABRINA and SONIC UNDERGROUND. Arles credits itself as being the only studio in France with experience in managing and executing a two-episode per week schedule. The French firm has created work for DIC, TF1, Canal +, RTL and La Cinquieme.
The newest lawsuit hitting the embattled Cinar Corp. comes from a former exec, over his inability to exercise his stock options. At Cinar, Louis Fournier served as the companys vice president of distribution and left the company to serve as president of youth and animation programming at Montreal-based TVA International. Fournier is suing his former employer for reimbursement over stock options not paid to him when he exited the company in February 2000.
Stan Lee Media has announced a teaming with producer Mark Canton (RED PLANET), which will bring a live-action version of the Internet animated series 7TH PORTAL to the big screen. With no studio yet attached, Canton plans to take the project to Warner Bros. where he has a production deal. Currently, Canton is set to produce the feature with Stan Lee Media co-founders Stan Lee and Peter Paul serving as executive producers. Canton told the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, "The opportunity to work on the new characters and stories created by Stan Lee is about as exciting as one can imagine.
On Thursday, June 8, 2000, the three-time Pulitzer Prize winning creator of the comic strip SHOE, Jeff MacNelly passed away. He died at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, succumbing to lymphoma, which he has been fighting since late last year. In 1972 at the age of 24, MacNelly won the Pulitzer for one of his political cartoons for the RICHMOND NEW LEADER. He had been working there for only 16 months. Before leaving the NEW LEADER in 1982, he received his second Pulitzer Prize in 1978.
On Wednesday, June 7, 2000, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered that the worlds largest software company, Microsoft, be split into two separate companies. The ruling came as no surprise as the current conclusion to this phase of the antitrust case brought against the mega-firm. Quickly after the decision was handed down Microsoft pledged it would appeal the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.
Duck Soup Studios recently produced both the 3D animation and live-action for the 30-second Wal-Mart spot entitled "Sunny Skies." The mixed media spot features Wal-Mart´s friendly mascot, Smiley, who appears this time as the bright sun behind dark stormy clouds and then flies down to a Wal-Mart store to rollback prices once again. The animation was created by using Alias Wavefront´s Maya and was directed by Lane Nakamura with the live-action directed by Gale Tattersall and produced by Jon Derovan. Executive producer for the spot was Mark Medernach.
Interface Media Group, a Washington D.C.-based film and video production house, created the 3D animated end tag for "Choose Your Cover," a campaign for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 60, 30 and 15-second spots stress the importance of using sun protection to avoid skin cancer. Utilizing 3D animated icons created for last year´s campaign by Interface, art director/3D animator Carol Hilliard and designer/Flint artist John Bennett created a 4-second end tag, which mimics the project´s print campaign.
Toronto-based TOPIX/Mad Dog has created the visual effects for three 30-second spots for Visa´s latest campaign. The "Penguins" ad, which promotes the Visa Gold card, is currently airing in Canada. The commercial follows a family outing to the beach where a seemingly passive penguin pilfers the family´s Visa card. Likewise, the other two spots "Monkey 2" and "Cat Burglar," feature a Machiavellian monkey and crafty cat who walk away with unknowing victims´ Visa cards. TOPIX/Mad Dog Inferno artists had to replace the live-action animals with puppets.
iXL, an Atlanta-based Internet solutions firm, designed, edited and composited a 60-second spot to promote ESPN International´s coverage of the NBA Finals, the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Triple Crown, the French Open, the U.S. Open golf tournament and other top sporting events. The "Champions of the World" spot opens with a golden hued 3D graphic of the ESPN logo and "Champions of the World." The camera moves quickly around the graphic, while an animated gold circle, like a medal, forms.
Keeping the look "clean and simple," animation director J.J. Sedelmaier of J.J. Sedelmaier Productions transformed the popular print campaign for Connecticut´s People´s Bank to a 15-second TV spot. In the spot, which highlights the People´s Bank on-line services, an animated male hand and computer mouse quickly perform a multitude of tasks on-line, including paying the mortgage, depositing checks and checking on investments, all at his unseen wife´s request. "People´s Bank has an ongoing outdoor campaign and they wanted a spot that was very similar.
Burbank-based animation house Renegade Animation has created the newest Chester Cheetah ads for Frito-Lay, entitled "Quiz Show" and "Ice Sculptor." The first spot pits Chester in a quiz show where the grand prize is a convertible filled with Cheetos Xs and Os snacks. Once his craving reaches its summit, Chester dives from his podium and starts to eat the scrumptious snacks. "Ice Sculptor" brings together two items that don´t mix: Flamin´ Hot Cheetos and ice sculptures.
Acme Filmworks director Peter Chung (AEON FLUX) has finished his fourth spot for Rally´s and Checker´s hamburger stands. The anime style spots all feature the fast-driving femme fatale, Holly. In the newest commercial "Johnny Law," a cop clocks Holly doing 243 mph in her car. The sly seductress races through a Rally´s/Checker´s drive-thru nabbing two Bacon Cheese Champs. Once cornered by the copper, the cunning character hands over her license conveniently placed between the buns of a burger.
Imax Corp. has struck a deal that will bring DreamWorks and PDIs newest 3D animated feature SHREK to the giant screen. Opening December 2001, six months after its initial theatrical release, the ogre odyssey will arrive in Imaxs 150 digital 3D theatres. Imax will foot the US$10 million bill to transfer the two-dimensional cartoon to eye-popping 3D. SHREK follows the misadventures of an annoyed ogre and his new frustratingly friendly fairy-tale neighbors.
Beating out the only major new release BIG MOMMAS HOUSE, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 finished atop the U.S. box office for the second straight weekend. The TV series redux grossed another US$27.02 million. The sensational sequel, with primary visual effects by Pacific Data Images, Double Negative Ltd. and CFC, has now topped the scales by making $130.7 million in only one and a half weeks in theatres. Now proving that Martian Lawrence in a rubber fat ladys suit is more attractive to moviegoers than realistic talking dinosaurs, Disneys DINOSAUR slipped to #3, making $12.04 million.
Film Roman Inc. has launched a major expansion of its commercial production activities. As a result, Kathee Schneider has been named vice president of creative affairs and the commercial division's executive producer. Joining Schneider as executive creative director will be three-time Emmy-winning director, Eric Radomski. The artists featured on Film Roman's animation Web site, Level13.net will also be involved with the commercial division. "We are drawing on this vast new pool of talent who create avant-garde work for Level13.net," said Schneider.
Making history on June 6, 2000, 20th Century Foxs TITAN A.E. was beamed digitally from a remote location to an Atlanta theater during the Supercomm trade show. The film was sent from Qwest Communications Cyber Center in Burbank, California using a secure Internet transmission protocol developed by Cisco Systems Inc. Up until now, digital projection systems played the movies on the screen from DVD-like disks. Many studios, however, question the security of sending their top-secret premieres over satellite and Internet lines.
The FCC and Department of Justice have given the go ahead for AT&T to merge with MediaOne making the combined company the largest cable firm in the nation. One stipulation on the US$58 billion deals approval is that the company seal off its holdings in Road Runner, a high-speed Internet access service. The FCC also said that either AT&T has to sell its stake in Time Warner Entertainment, divest programming assets like Liberty Media or unload various cable systems within the next year. AT&T has six months to decided which of the three courses of action it will take.
Amidst the resignation of their three-month term CFO, Cinar Corp. announced it would regain CA$10 million more of the $122 million that was invested without the company boards approval. Cinar expects to receive the $10 million from Nassau, Bahamas-based Globe-X Management Ltd. after the investment matured May 31, 2000. Cinar said Globe-X required five business days from May 31 to "process transactions for administrative purposes" and that Cinar expected to receive the $10 million within that time.
TV veteran Larry Charles has been added to Columbia TriStars live-action TV version of THE TICK as an executive producer and show-runner. As part of the deal, Charles has extended his overall production-development pact with Columbia TriStar. Previously, Charles worked on SEINFELD and MAD ABOUT YOU and most recently executive produced Columbia TriStar's animated series DILBERT for UPN.
On Tuesday, June 6, 2000, the House of Representatives approved and sent to the White House legislation awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to late PEANUTS comic strip creator Charles Schulz. The gold medal is the highest civilian honor given by Congress. The measure, which the House passed by voice vote after unanimous approval by the Senate, praises Schulz for giving "the nation a unique sense of optimism, purpose and pride.