Twenty-five-year-old Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the upcoming Fox TV primetime animated series Family Guy, has signed a five-year, multi-million dollar development deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television. Under the deal, MacFarlane will develop new programming and remain the executive producer and principal voice actor on his series Family Guy. Fox has guaranteed MacFarlane $2 million to $2.5 million for the first three years and if the show continues to air after that time, he will receive large increases the final two years.
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St. Louis, Missouri-based Unity Motion, the first company to offer 24-hour high-definition television (HDTV) programming via satellite, has acquired the rights to air six original animated films by independent animator Sally Cruikshank. The films in the package include Face Like a Frog and her cult hit, Quasi at the Quackadero. Through the year 2000, Unity Motion has made a commitment to spend more than $250 million on movie acquisitions. Cruikshanks work will air in regular rotation on the channel.
Nickelodeon made a major announcement Tuesday, December 8 regarding their 1999 lineup. 259 original episodes of returning shows, both live-action and animated, are scheduled for the 1999 TV season. The animated shows that will have new episodes are Rugrats, featuring the addition of new family member Baby Dil Pickles, Hey Arnold!, The Wild Thornberrys, CatDog, Oh Yeah!
The Burger King tie-in with Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies The Rugrats Movie has done wonders for the fast-food chain by boosting sales and increasing traffic to near record levels in U.S. Burger Kings. In the first week of sales, Rugrats-themed Kids Meals and watches topped some of the companys greatest promotions ever, including The Lion King and Pocahontas, which ended up selling 50 and 55 million premiums respectively.
Disney/Pixars A Bugs Life led the way at the box office for a second straight weekend beating out Universals shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcocks classic Psycho. The computer-animated film dropped a respectable 48%, earning $17.4M for a total cume of $68.7M. In fourth place, Paramounts The Rugrats Movie had a heavier drop of 64% from Thanksgiving weekend adding $7.6M for a grand total of $67.5M in 17 days.
The WB networks prime-time animated sitcom, Baby Blues, will be produced at the Hungary-based Varga Studio. Varga has been contracted to animate the pilot episode (which they recently finished), as well as an additional seven episodes of the shows thirteen episode first season order. It should be noted that Warner Bros. is still handling the pre- and post-production on these first eight episodes while Rough Draft is picking up the remaining five episodes.
Richard Morss has joined UK-based digital production company, Peppers Ghost Productions (PGP) as Executive Creative Director. Morss had been Controller of Childrens Programs at United Film and Television Production prior to his appointment at PGP. This follows the hiring of Alan Marques, who joined PGP last month as head of production. PGP Managing Director Paul Michael stated that this represents a shift of focus for the company.
* Friday, December 4. North Hollywood, California, U.S.A.
The Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists, Local 839 IATSE, will be holding a holiday party on December 4 from 6 p.m. to midnight and everybody is invited. The soiree is at the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, 4222 Vineland (just south of the 101). Admission, food and drinks are all free. For more details, click here.
* Thursday, December 10. Stockholm, Sweden.
The Swedish Association for Animated Film (FFAF) will screen all the Swedish animated films made in 1998 from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. at the Film House in Stockholm. Before the screening, the association will have its yearly meeting and a party afterwards. For more information, call 46-8 615 0882 or e-mail email@example.com.
Dream Quest Images, the feature film visual effects division of the Walt Disney Company, has hired Price Pethel in the newly created post of Vice President/Creative Director. Pethels role includes contributing to the overall direction and debate of such digital studio issues as imaging, compositing methodology, rendering and software development. Pethel joins the company from a five year tenure as VP/Creative Director at Digital Domain.
San Francisco-based (Colossal) Pictures collaborated with Blockbuster Video to create two Christmas-themed spots promoting the new Holiday GiftCards at the national U.S. video chain. The 15- and 30-second spots update Santa Claus for the 21st century utilizing an "anime" style complete with a "super heroic" Santa, ultra-modern cybor-reindeer and a futuristic cityscape. The ad's talented crew consisted of creative director/designer Mike Smith, director George Evelyn, animation director Chuck Gammage, and was created by the Doner agency in Detroit.
By special arrangement with Nielsen Media Research, AWN publishes the Nielsen ratings for animated programs on a monthly basis in the Animation Flash. The ratings included herein are only for U.S. national network television. The following list of animated national network programs is ranked by Household Ratings. A Rating is the percentage of households that tuned into the program. This percentage can provide us with the number of households that tuned into the program on average during the month. The universe estimate for the 1997-98 television season is 98 million TV homes.
CLASS-KEY CHEW-PO COMMERCIALS, the newly expanded ad division of Klasky-Csupo, recently completed the first in a series of ads for Burger King Kids Club. The 30-second spot, "Sketchbook," which aired nationally in November on Spanish-speaking television networks features an artistic Latin boy, "Lingo," who is a member of the Burger King Kids Club. The spot was directed by Bonita Versh, executive produced by John Andrews and Liz Seidman and developed by San Antonio, Texas-based ad agency Bromley, Aguilar and Associates.
New York-based The Attik produced a pair of 30-second spots, "Save Chef," to promote the new Comedy Central "South Park" musical offering "Chef Aid: The South Park Album" on American Recordings (Los Angeles)/Columbia Records (New York). The CD, which was released on November 24, is an extension of the "Chef Aid" episode, where Chef gets sent to prison and the community sponsors a "Chef Aid" concert to raise money and bail him out.
For over thirty years, long-time actor Paul Winchell has supplied the voice of Tigger in Walt Disney's "Winnie the Pooh" animated productions. However, the upcoming animated Pooh feature, "Tigger's Family Tree," won't feature his distinctive voice; instead Tigger's voice will be supplied by veteran voice actor Jim Cummings, who is also the current voice of Pooh Bear. Although a Disney spokeswoman denies he was fired, Winchell was let go after only one day of work on the film. She says his day of work was an audition, and the job simply went to the actor who gave a better performance.
Universal Pictures chairman Casey Silver was forced to resign after a year of consistent box office flops such as "Primary Colors," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Out of Sight," "Meet Joe Black," and this weekend's disastrous opening of the expensive sequel "Babe: Pig in the City," which was slaughtered by two other family-oriented features, Disney's "A Bug's Life'" and Paramount's "The Rugrats Movie." Silver had been head of Universal's movie production, marketing and distribution since November 1995.
Zoog Disney is a new two-hour block of programming on the Disney Channel that features a companion web site signaling the network's latest attempt at converging television and the Internet. The programming block which airs on Saturday and Sunday evenings from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. works in tandem with the web site by allowing children who watch the programs to submit suggestions, vote on outcomes, play games related to the programs, and give input to the shows.
The Santa Clarita International Film Festival (SCIFF) is now accepting entries in many categories including Feature-Animation, Short-Animation, Tele/Feature-Animation, Screenplay-Animation and Student Shorts. All entries must be postmarked by January 5, 1999. The festival takes place from February 19-26, 1999. For more information or submission guidelines, contact the SCIFF office at (805) 257-3131 or visit their web site at http://www.sciff.org.
Popular Plasticine cartoon characters Wallace and dog Gromit are returning to the screen for the first time since the Academy-Award winning 1995 short A Close Shave. The cheese-loving duo will make a cameo appearance in an episode of the new 13-part Aardman series Rex the Runt, a cartoon about the adventures of four dogs who share a suburban semi-detached home. Their brief appearance showcases them in their Close Shave role of window cleaners, except this time they face the dastardly Bad Bob.
Animation and visual effects house Pacific Data Images (PDI) has appointed industry veteran George Merkert as Executive Producer of the Motion Picture Visual Effects division. This decision comes on the heels of PDIs announcement of their intention to grow their operation and core business capabilities beyond its present size and scope, and to further develop its traditional animation/visual effects support work with a new emphasis towards content creation.
Canadian-based CINAR Films has signed an agreement with Shanghai Animation Film Studio, a subsidiary of Shanghai TV, Chinas second largest broadcasting company, to co-produce a 52 ten-minute episode animated series called Rumble and Growl. The Chinese-developed educational series chronicles the adventures of two friends, Rumble and Growl, who are always hungry. In their quest to find food, the pair uncovers scientific wonders and never-before explained natural phenomena. This is the first-ever official Canada-China co-production for an animated series created in China.
Disney/Pixar's "A Bug's Life" dominated the box office this weekend with a staggering number one debut of an estimated $33.3M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a record-setting $45.7M over the five-day holiday frame. If the estimates hold, the computer-generated bug picture will become the largest Thanksgiving opening in history topping Disney's 1996 release "101 Dalmatians" which debuted with $33.5M and $45.1M over the comparable periods.
The 32nd annual U.S. International Film and Video Festival is now seekingsubmissions in computer animation and non-computer animation categories.Entries must be received by March 1, 1999. For entry kits and additionalinformation, contact (630) 834-7773 or visit www.filmfestawards.com.
* Monday, November 30. San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Nik Phelps and the Sprocket Ensemble present Mike "Temple" Brady and the"Flaming Won Ton Show," a performance art presentation. The event is partof the Ideas in Animation program and is billed as "an evening of animationwith live original music." The West coast premiere of "Publegg Enemy," anew clay animated film from Dave Clausen and Carrie Kessler, and JasonShiga's new cartoon, "Double Duce," will also screen at this event which