The troubled Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) has closed up shop. Nearly one week after its relaunch, DEN execs laid off 150 employees stating that the low money flow could no longer support the company in its present form. The employees were informed of the news at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, May 17, 2000. The final straw that broke the camels back was this weeks decline from a key investor to supply additional funding. The Netcaster has been plagued with problems from the start.
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Tom Snyder Productions announced that it has signed a deal with Shockwave.com to create, develop and produce three original shows for the Internet. Each of the three shows will debut over the summer with eight two-minute episodes. The first of the new Webisodes is EXTREMELY RELAXED FLIGHT CONTROL TOWER where a sensitive consultant tries to help air traffic controllers relax on the job. O'GRADY HIGH follows alien invaders who have minimal effects on teens. The third toon, CLEAR!, centers on an inner city emergency medical crew that works hard at avoiding emergencies.
At the Apple World Wide Developers Conference Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, announced that Alias|Wavefront would be bringing out a version of Maya 3 for the Apple MAC OS X platform. Until now, Maya has only been available for high-end workstations including Windows NT and IRIX. This announcement is a significant one for both Apple and Alias|Wavefront, as well as for MAC users. Apple is poising Maya as the "premier 3D application for the MAC." With Newtek's Lightwave  as its only real competitor, Alias|Wavefront's flagship product will probably turn out to be just that.
As anticipated, Marvel's net sales decreased over last years first quarter period due in part to film licensing revenue. The year-ago quarter included a non-refundable advance from Sony Pictures Entertainment for the feature film license of Spider-Man, as well as an advance from Universal Studios for a feature film based on The Hulk. Also, year-ago first quarter revenues reflected strong initial distribution shipments for the Toy Biz divisions new line of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) products.
Mondo Media's weekly Web toon, THUGS ON FILM, will hit BBC America's summer primetime line up. Mondo, a leader in Web content production, also announced that bbcamerica.com will air THUGS ON FILM which will include a co-branded show introduction and a special launch page on the bbcamerica.com Web site. The pact also includes a Mondo/BBC America co-production, which will create two brand new animated characters exclusively for BBC America and bbcamerica.com. THUGS ON FILM is a film review show hosted by Cecil and Stubby, two English hoods.
The continuing tribulation around the merger of Time Warner and America On-line now includes impending separate fines looming over the two firms. The Los Angeles City Attorneys Office and Information Technology and General Services Committee are looking to the recent dispute between Disney and Time Warner, which resulted in Time Warner pulling ABC from its cable service. The move affected some 400,000 subscribers for 36 hours, which included the sweeps week celebrity broadcast of WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONARE.
Creative Planet has launched the beta version of the new
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Anima Mundi Web is Brazil's international animation Web competition. The event is open to all countries and work must be in Flash and gif formats. The festival will pre-select 20 animations and an international jury will vote for the winners. The international jury will consist of the people that have registered on the Anima Mundi Festival Web site. The winners will be announced on the closing night of the Anima Mundi Festival in Rio de Janeiro on July 23. The deadline for entries is June 1, 2000. For judging go to www.animamundiweb.com.br.
Autonomous Effects recently released a new version of their SceneGenie plug-in suite for match-moving and combining live-action footage with CGI. The new version is available now, and boasts features like 3D tracking, an easy to use interface, faster tracking tools, optimizations and much more. Priced at US$995, SceneGenie 1.2 is available as a plug-in for 3D Studio MAX 2.5, 3.0 and 3.1.
The Second Annual Ajijic Festival de Cine is inviting both students as well as professionals to submit their entries in the categories of animation, documentaries, independent and studio produced feature films, short subjects and screenplays. The event will be held in Ajijic, Mexico from Wednesday, November 8 to Sunday, November 12, 2000. "The emphasis of this festival as it was with our inaugural effort last year, will be the celebration, discovery and recognition of talent from around the world," said James E. Lloyd, Chairman of the Festival's Board of Directors.
On Sunday, June 11, 2000 at 9 pm, Cartoon Network will present an hour of cartoons never-before-seen on television during "The Lost Cartoons" TOONHEADS Special. Airing on "Lost Cartoons" will be Spooney Melodies' CRYIN' FOR THE CAROLINES, Leon Schlesinger's short-lived collection of musical "Vitaphone Varieties," which feature abstract animation using paper cut-outs and double exposures to create visual accompaniment to arranged music.
Digital Entertainment Network (DEN), a Gen Y-targeted Netcaster, has relaunched its site. The new version has a slicker look and features a Flash comic strip called CRIME TIME. Director, producer and writer Steve Oedekerk (ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE) has also signed a deal to bring his Thumb.com content to the site, which includes WORLD THUMB WRESTLING. In the next 60 days, DEN plans to relaunch the Flash animated THE FAT KID NETWORK.
Wild Brain, Inc. announced that the animation studio is producing a slate of original Web shows for the Cartoon Network On-line. The 15 Webtoons will air on both of the companies' Internet channels. The two companies have worked together before, most recently on EL KABONG, a Cartoon Network retro TV short featuring the famous 1960s cartoon character, Quick Draw McGraw. Reflecting Cartoon Network's wide array of animated genres, Wild Brain's 15 new creations will vary in terms of art-direction, character design and overall tone.
Honkworm International, a leading producer of original on-line entertainment content, has unveiled three new animation projects at the Cannes Film Festival. Each title will consist of no less than 20 Webisodes, ranging from two to six minutes in length. Honkworm executive VP of content Chris Cobb said, "We approach each of our short-form series from a filmmakers perspective, for us, first and foremost, it's about storytelling.
With the Internet becoming a place for strange bedfellows, veteran actor George Hamilton has joined Stan Lee Media as their new president of global branded entertainment. Hamilton will be responsible for signing new Hollywood talent and provide voice work for animated programs. In addition, Hamilton will develop an on-line lifestyles magazine that may have cross-over hopes in television. Hamilton is a proven business man running a successful bar and restaurant chain, production company and cigar brand.
More than doubling the gross of new comer BATTLEFIELD EARTH, GLADIATOR reins a top the U.S. box office for the second weekend. The DreamWorks epic, with primary special effects by Mill Film Ltd., grossed US$24.65 million. The Roman actioner has now made $73.66 million in just over a full week in release. The critically panned BATTLEFIELD EARTH finished in second despite reviews stating it is the worst film in years. The sci-fi flick based on a novel by L. Ron Hubbard grossed $11.55 million. Universals U-571 slipped a spot to third grossing another $5.74 million.
At the international box office, DreamWorks GLADIATOR conquered Australia and the U.K. while MISSION TO MARS landed on top in Italy and Germany. For the week ending May 11, 2000, GLADIATOR reigned by grossing US$4.53 million in Australia and $5.37 million in the U.K. in its first week in release in both countries. The global gladiator hit has now grossed nearly $86.56 worldwide. Buena Vistas part APOLLO 13-part 2001 space epic, MISSION TO MARS remained atop the charts in Italy where it grossed another $524,264, raising its Italian cume to $1.92 million.
Warner Bros. Television will announce its fall schedule this week and it will include claymation series THE PJS. The Hollywood Reporter published the news saying that the official announcement will go before advertisers in New York on Tuesday, May 16. Earlier this year, WB had signed a deal with THE PJS producer Imagine TV/Touchstone that gave the network the option of picking up the show for the fall 2000 season. Previously airing on Fox, THE PJS future was uncertain even as late as last week.
On Saturday May 13, 2000, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences handed out their Daytime Emmy Awards for technical achievement. Many of the awards handed out featured animated series like big winner ROLIE POLIE OLIE for best special class animated program. The 3D animation series beat out ANGELA ANACONDA, BATMAN BEYOND, DISNEYS MICKEY MOUSEWORKS and THE SYLVESTER & TWEETY MYSTERIES for the honor. BLUES CLUES lost to BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY in the childrens series writing category and lost to BEAR IN THE BIG BLUE HOUSE in the childrens series directing category.
Animation is a vital tool at UNICEF for communicating life-saving information. Unlike any other medium, animation has universal appeal. It is quick and to the point. It can cross gender, age and cultural barriers. As well as communicating health messages, animated characters can provide role models that alter children's lives for the better by changing perceptions or teaching tolerance.
Author and writer John Ridley (THREE KINGS) has signed a deal with Universal and Imagine to scribe a live-action version of his Web toon UNDERCOVER BROTHER. The blaxploitation-spoof currently airs on Urban Entertainment and is the first Web created project to make the jump to the big screen. Ridley is getting a US$1 million dollar advance on the script and could wind up with $2 million if the script is green-lighted.