Coinciding with the U.S. tour of The Spice Girls, Psygnosis has released "Spice World," a PlayStation console video game. The game, aimed at pre-teen girls, gives users a chance to choreograph dance routines starring animated versions of Ginger, Scary, Baby, Posh and Sporty Spice. While it may not be rocket science, the Spice Girls game does address a need for games designed for girls. "Spice World" for PlayStation is $35.95.
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JIM KEESHEN has joined FILM ROMAN as a director on the animated series, "Family Guy." This spring, his company Jim Keeshen Productions produced the show's pilot with creator Seth MacFarlane.
Thursday, September 3 - Sunday, September 6. Lake Buena Vista, Florida, U.S.A.
The Disney Institute, a vacation resort, hosts "Mulan: An Animation Experience," a four-day event which gives guests a hands-on look at the making of the animated feature "Mulan." The program includes animation workshops, appearances by the film's supervising animator Mark Henn, CGI supervisor Eric Guaglione, head of special effects David Tidgwell and voice actress June Foray. For pricing and information, call (800) 496-6337. This event will be repeated September 11-14.
CRAIG ALLEN has been named general manager of JIM HENSON INTERACTIVE. He was formerly a senior producer at DISNEY INTERACTIVE.
Thursday, September 3. Melbourne, Australia.
Digital Divas, a networking group for women working in new media, hosts a meeting at Open Channel, 13 Victoria Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne. Existing members include Kathy Mueller, Kiera Poelsma and Maree Woolley. For information, contact email@example.com.
JEFF WILLIAMS has joined ANIMATION WORLD NETWORK as webmaster, replacing Ged Bauer, who has left to pursue further education.
Thursday, September 3. Studio City, California, U.S.A.
Screenmusic Studios hosts the first meeting of Women In Animation Los Angeles' new Voice Over Group from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Admission is free, but RSVP is essential. Call Muriel Whitaker at (310) 412-2719. Screenmusic Studio is located at 11700 Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. For directions, call Screenmusic directly at (818) 753-6040.
Animation editor and producer Lee Gunther passed away on August 25 following a stroke suffered the previous day. He was 63 years old. A memorial service was held on Saturday, August 29 at Forest Lawn in Burbank, California. Starting at Warner Bros. in the 1960s and then at DePatie-Freleng studios from 1964-1978, Gunther was a film editor on more than 85 animated shorts in all. At DePatie-Freleng, he also worked as an executive in charge of production in the 1970s.
Tuesday, September 8. Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Women In Animation Los Angeles hosts a mixer at Lumpy Gravy, the restaurant/gallery co-owned by Gabor Csupo of Klasky Csupo. The event is the second in a series of fundraising animation mixers that will take place on the second Tuesday of every month. The event will feature the original "napkin cartoon" drink special: draw a cartoon on a napkin, get a discount! Lumpy Gravy is located at 7311 Beverly Blvd. For information call (323) 934-9400.
CBS has made a last-minute programming decision to move the debut of its new, animated Saturday-morning line-up back to October 3, two weeks later than the previously announced date of September 19. The aim is to maximize on-air promotional opportunities, which would have been difficult during the sports programming scheduled on many of the network's local affiliates in the next few weeks. "We are very proud of our new Nelvana-produced shows," said Lucy Johnson, senior vice president of daytime/children's programming and special projects at CBS.
San Francisco-based WILD BRAIN INC. produced "Super Mom II," a sequel to their original Clio-award-winning spot, "Super Mom," for Coca-Cola. The 30-second, cel-animated commercial was directed by Mike Smith and Dave Marshall.
Toronto, Canada-based animation company Nelvana Limited has completed the acquisition of 100% of the shares of Kids Can Press Ltd., a Canadian publisher of children's books. One of Kids Cans properties is Franklin, the story of a turtle which Nelvana has already turned into an animated series. The $6.1 million (CAN) acquisition now gives Nelvana access to Kids Cans library of over 250 children's book titles. One of these, titled Elliot Moose, is currently being developed for an animated television series.
Imagina, a computer conference and festival which is often referred to as the European equivalent to SIGGRAPH, is expanding for its 18th edition, January 18-22, 1999. In keeping with tradition, the event will start in Monaco, January 18-20, with conferences and panel discussions on the theme "integral images and meta tools", the "Prix Pixel-INA" awards competition and the Innovation Space; then, in Paris, January 20-22, the event will continue with the exhibition of new industrial developments and technologies.
For information, visit www.ina.fr/ina/imagina.
The 7th biennial Hiroshima International Animation Festival ended on Monday, August 24 with a grand awards ceremony. The top winners are:
Grand Prize: "The Old Lady and the Pigeons" by Sylvain Chomet (Canada).
Hiroshima Prize: The Mermaid by Alexander Petrov (Russia).
Debut (first film) Prize: Busby by Anna Henckel-Donners-Marck (Germany).
Renzo Kinoshita Prize: "L'Aréne (Série "Vermillion")" by Nicolas Jacquet (France).
In last weeks Animation Flash, London-based Passion Pictures was mistakenly credited for three 30-second animated spots for travel agency Lunn Poly/Thomson, animated by Mic Graves, Robin Shaw and Joris van Hulzen. The spots were, in fact, produced by aka Pizazz, a different animation studio in London.
Worldfest, an independent film festival which has been held in Houston for the past 32 years and additionally in Charleston, South Carolina for the past five years, is moving from Charleston to Flagstaff, Arizona. The first annual Worldfest-Flagstaff International Film Festival will be held November 13-22, 1998. Houston will continue as usual.
In June, Avid Technologies bought Softimage [AF 6/17/98], combining two powers of digital production and 3D graphics. Not to be outdone, in a similar yet reversed situation, San Rafael, California-based Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) has announced plans to acquire Montreal, Canada-based Discreet Logic (Nasdaq: DSLGF). Autodesk is the parent company of Kinetix, makers of 3D graphics and animation software such as 3D StudioMAX and Character Studio. The merger had some foreshadowing, as Kinetix and Discreet Logic announced a product integration partnership in March [AF 4/7/98].
The Vital! International Animation Festival (formerly known as Cardiff) is closing its doors due to financial losses incurred at its latest edition in June 1998. This years festival director Jane Williams has left the organization, and the board of directors is now responsible for managing a debt which sources said amounts to approximately (U.K.) £25,000.
UCLAs School of Theater, Film and Television has appointed ROBERT ROSEN dean, replacing Gil Cates, who stepped down from the post last year but remains a member of the faculty. Rosen was promoted internally from the position of dean of the Film and Television School, a division of the Theater, Film and Television School (including the Animation Workshop). He has worked at UCLA since 1975. . . . Filmmaker JAMES CAMERON and effects master STAN WINSTON have resigned from the board of directors of the Venice, California-based effects studio they co-founded five years ago, DIGITAL DOMAIN.
Paramounts Great America theme park in Santa Clara, California is starting construction on a new 2.3-acre area called Kidzville, scheduled to open to the public in March 1999. The featured attractions and rides will be based on Hanna-Barbera characters such as Scooby Doo, Shaggy, Yogi Bear and Top Cat. However, this is not a new licensing deal. Hanna-Barbera costumed characters have been featured at the park since it was opened by Marriott in 1976 and bought by Paramount in 1992.
Nickelodeon Movies has acquired the feature film rights to Jeff Smiths comic book, Bone for an unspecified amount of money in the high six-figure range. The property is being developed as an animated feature film to be directed by Smith.
The Writers Guild of America has forged an agreement with Twentieth Century Fox to cover writers working on prime-time animated shows The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Futurama and Family Guy. This is of great significance for animation writers and WGAs Animation Writers Caucus, because it gives animation writers on these shows the same benefits as their live-action counterparts, such as mandatory payment for re-writes and access to the WGA health insurance plan.
ANNE SWEENEY has been named president of DISNEY/ABC CABLE NETWORKS, filling a position left vacant when Geraldine Laybourne left in June to form her own media company. Since 1996, Sweeney has been president of the Disney Channel, a title she will retain with the promotion, which will add several programming outlets under her wing: Lifetime, A&E, The History Channel and E! Entertainment Television, as well as ABCs Saturday morning line-up. Prior to Disney, Sweeney was at FX for three years and at Nickelodeon for 12. . . .
Geraldine Laybourne, often described as one of the most powerful women inthe entertainment industry, has left her post as president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks to form her own diversified media company. With ABC asits first investor and client, the still unnamed company will focus oncreating branded content for the Internet and television, targeted mainlyat women and children. Prior to joining Disney/ABC in 1996, Laybourne waspresident of Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, a company she joined in 1980 at its