September Issue News Section

Fall TV Season: News on the coming animation season on American television is found in Pamela Schecter's article, "TV's Fall TV Lineup," appearing among this issue's feature articles.

Arab-Americans Set Disney Protest. Leaders of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) angered by what they see as the Walt Disney's Co.'s "blatant racism," say they will stage "simultaneous protests" outside Disney's Burbank lot, Disneyland in Anaheim and DisneyWorld in Orlando in August. ADC officials are incensed over what they call a continuing pattern of "Arab bashing" in such Disney releases as Aladdin and Return of Jafar. They are also angry that Disney has allegedly not kept its word to consult with them whenever a Disney movie features Arab or Arab-American characters. According to ADC spokesman Donald Bustany, "Disney's TV animation division has complied with that agreement, and we've been working with them in a very efficient and amiable way, but management did not bother to spread the word and tell other divisions." Disney has not returned Bustany's calls, "I don't know why they are doing this, but we've got to wake them up. Maybe this protest will help."

In the meantime, Disney's Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the company's second made-for-video sequel to Aladdin, was in second place on the rental charts according to VSDA VidTrac. While having a sell-through title be one of the top rental titles is not that common, it is much rarer for this to happen for a made-for-video title.

Fox Children's Network Appointments. Maureen Smith was named vice president of planning and program scheduling, where she will work with Fox Children's Network and other Fox divisions on strategic planning of the service in the U.S. and abroad. Donna Cunningham, previously a vice president of Hanna-Barbera Inc., has joined FCN as vice president of business affairs, where she will oversee all negotiations and supervise business relationships between the service and its program suppliers, production companies, talent and ancillary businesses.

Global Recruiting. Fewer than a dozen institutions throughout California train computer animators for work in entertainment, but The Hollywood Reporter recently checked with local visual effects operations produced the names of several out-of-state schools whose graduates increasingly are being recruited as well. They include: Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rhode Island School of Design; Ringling School of Design in Sarasota, Florida; Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY; the School of Visual Arts in New York; and Texas A & M University, in College Station, Texas. In Canada, students from Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, a favorite of mainstream animation houses are also being sought after.

The following items are from AWN's August 7, 1996 email news flash:

Nickelodeon Movies Unveils First Feature Film Slate. Following up the release of Nickelodeon Movies' first feature effort--the live-action Harriet the Spy last month (accompanied by Craig Bartlett's animated short, Hey Arnold)--the company announced a slate of three animated films now in development. The highest profile title is certainly The Stinky Cheese Man, based on the best-selling children's book by Lane Smith and Jon Scieszka. The book features various off-the-wall versions of classic fairy tales; right now, the plot of the film seems to center on how Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk) creates a stinky cheese man to repel the giant, but instead creates havoc in fairy tale land. The film will utilize cut-out animation, somewhat in the manner of the dream sequence in "James and the Giant Peach," for which Lane Smith helped design.
Also on Nickelodeon Movie's animation agenda is a feature version of their long-running TV series, Rugrats, which chronicles the world from a baby's point of view, to be made by Klasky Csupo. The film which has been in development for some time, will be Klasky Csupo's first feature effort. Finally, there is Kogny, which is created by and will be produced by Doug Lawrence (who worked on Nickelodeon's Rocko's Modern Life). This comedy deals with the struggles of Krogny, a dog who becomes a fugitive after he is falsely accused of murdering the Mayor's cat. He returns, disguised as a human, in an attempt to solve the crime.

Snowden And Fine Sign With Warner Bros. Warner Bros. Feature Animation has signed a two-year, first-look deal with London-based directors Alison Snowden and David Fine. The pair, known for such Academy Award nominated shorts as George and Rosemary, Special Delivery and the Oscar winning Bob's Birthday. The deal will give Warners the option to develop and produce any idea the pair may come up with. The films, which Warners said will not necessarily be aimed at children, will be made at either the company's London or Glendale studios, rather than in Snowden and Fine's facility in London, which is considered too small to handle a feature-length project.

The Hearst Corporation And The Cisneros Group To Launch Locomotion Throughout Latin America. A new 24-hour, all-animation programming series for 23 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean is scheduled to begin service this fall. Locomotion will be broadcast to homes throughout the region initially via DirecTV in Spanish, Portuguese and English. DIRECTV is the first service to offer direct-to-home television entertainment to this market and before year end, 19 new channels will be added to the service. Locomotion will feature programs from Hearst Entertainment's library of animated series such as The Legend of Prince Valiant, Popeye, Beetle Bailey,Krazy Kat and the new Flash Gordon.

Activision Aquires Best-Selling Japanese Wrestling Title. Los Angeles-based Activion has signed an agreement with Tomy Company to acquire the worldwide rights, excluding Japan, for Toukon Retsuden--the wrestling game which, according to Tomy, has shipped some 220,000 units for the Sony PlayStation in Japan. Activision will work with Tomy to adapt the title for the international market.

Wallace And Gromit Meet The Queen. The visit was requested by the palace to Aardman Animations and it appeared that the Queen herself was an admirer of Wallace and his faithful canine companion, Gromit. The Queen was amused by a brief introductory film showing the art of the Oscar winning animator, Nick Park (Creature Comforts, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave). Park later said that, "The Queen laughed and chuckled in all the right places. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself." She was also given a preview of a scale model of television's Coronation Street, apparently constructed entirely of chocolate, which will be used for a Cadbury commercial. At one stage the Queen took off her glove to hold one of the "chocolate" characters from the Coronation Street Set. She also got some insight on the biggest studio secret of all--the script content for studio's first feature-length film written and co-produced by Park, Peter Lord and Dave Spoxton, which should be ready for worldwide distribution in two-and-a-half years.

New On Video:

James And The Giant Peach Due October 15.
Henry Selick's live-action/animated adventure based on Roald Dahl's book will be available in stores in the United States from Walt Disney Home Video with a suggested retail price of $22.99. (See Wendy Jackson's review of the film in the May 1996 issue of Animation World Magazine.)

Central Park Media Makes Anime Titles Available On October 8: Three English-dubbed episodes of the "adults only" sci-fi series, Urotsukidoji: Inferno Road by Toshio Maeda, will be released in the US by Central Park Media. Each 45-minute episode is priced at $29.95, with all three available in one 135-minute package under the title of Inferno Road Brick is priced at $79.95. At the same time, the company will release Area 88: The Blue Skies of Betrayal (an action-adventure story), Judge (a horror occult thriller) (both for $14.95 each), The Heroic Legend of Arislan, Parts 3 & 4 ($19.95), and My My Mai, Volume 1 (a supernatural mystery with "sex appeal.") ($19.95).

The following items are from AWN's August 21, 1996 email news flash:

Warner Bros. Animation Shuffle. Joe Reilly has been named senior vice president and general manager of the studio's Television Animation Division and is charged with overseeing all financial business and administrative matters. Ken Duer is now vice president of worldwide production for Television Animation which puts him in charge of all domestic and international production units. Maria Womack has been promoted to director, finance, Warner Bros. Television Animation. Liza-Ann Warren takes the newly created slot of director, recruitment for the division, and as such will scout new animation talents, production entities and training opportunities. Warren, who was director, domestic production, will be replaced by Howard Schwartz. Finally, Chuck Ansel has been appointed director, finance, Warner Bros. Classic Animation.

Mainframe Teams With Imax On Reboot Projects. Mainframe, best known for its computer-animated Reboot TV series, will produce two films for Imax' motion simulator rides using characters from the show. The Vancouver-based studio's deal also calls for the development of other projects. Imax, which premiered Cosmic Voyage, which contains 15 minutes of computer animation effects, will release another CGI film in October, L5--First City in Space, with computer animation provided by Britain's CFI and France's Ex Machina.

Nickelodeon In Nordic Territories. On August 1, 1996, Nickelodeon began transmitting a six-hour block of its programming, including RugRats to the five Nordic Territories--Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland. The kids network has previously licensed deals to broadcasters in Scandinavia and Finland, but has never entered the territory with any real presence. The package is being broadcast initially only in Swedish and English. It comes as a part of a deal between Viacom (Nickelodeon's parent company) and SES (Société europeen des satellites) to provide transmission via the Astra 1B satellite to Germany and the Nordic countries under a multiyear arrangement.

Warner Bros. Begins Virtual Class. Warner Bros. Feature Animation, as part of a nationwide consortium of telecommunication companies and school systems, has been training teachers from around the country as part of a program called the Virtual Training Network. The program will go online in October, whenstudio staffers will demonstrate animation techniques to students via close-circuit TV. Two-way communications will allow students to ask questions and s have their work critiqued by animators. Dave Master, manager of artist development and training for Warner Bros. Feature Animation, is heading the effort.

Nick Park's Close Shave Wins Again! At the recent Palms Springs International Short Film Festival, Academy Award-winning director Nick Park's A Close Shave was voted favorite short film by festival audiences. The winners received a solid bronze statue named "The Entertainer", designed by local artist John Kennedy, as well as a $500 cash prize. (Park's film also won a $250 prize for best animated short.) Under the International Student Short Film category, They Were The First To Ride directed by Lyndon Barrois, received a certificate and a $250 cash prize for best animated film.

France Finds Hit In Sandiego. The Gallic TV version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is a big hit with French children audiences. Public web France 3, where the show airs Sunday mornings, has reported a market share of 25% since its launch last April. France 3 is so happy with it that it has commissioned another 30 episodes of Mais ou se cache Carmen Sandiego? from French license-holder Marina Productions.

Claster Television Expands "Power Block" With CGI Animation Series Reboot. Joining Beast Wars, G.I. Joe Extreme, and VOR-Tech as part of a 5 day a week action-oriented animation block, "Reboot" extends the CGI franchise. "Power Block" will debut this fall on 106 stations covering 85% of the U.S. ReBoot, which originally made its premiere in September 1994 as part of ABC's Saturday morning line up, has received several awards for its appeal to kids of all ages; it is produced in Vancouver at Mainframe Entertainment's 3D computer animation studio and is distributed worldwide by Alliance Communications.

VOR Tech
VOR Tech
© Claster Television

Pillow People Comes Through In Syndication. The new kids "FCC-Friendly" series, has been cleared in more than 85% of the country through syndicator Summit Media Group, a division of 4 Kids Entertainment. The series is produced in New York by creator Penny Ekstein Lieberman's production company, Sandbox Entertainment.

Humongous Entertainment Ships Freddie Fish 2. On August 29, 1996 the new hand-animated Junior Adventure for kids age 3-8 will be available on one multi-platform CD-ROM for Windows 95, Windows 3.1 and Macintosh for $39.95. The Case of The Haunted Schoolhouse, Freddie Fish and her pal Luther are on the case to unmask the ghost and reclaim the toys in an underwater world full of adventure with 36 new environments to explore. "Sing Along with Freddie Fish and her Friends" an illustrated 24-page book with audio tape will be available free with the purchase of Freddie Fish 2.

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