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UPDATE: ‘Up’-Inspired Transatlantic Balloon Voyage Abandoned After 12 Hours

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 9:58pm PDT

UPDATE, FRIDAY AM: That didn’t last very long. Just 12 hours into aviator Jonathan Trappe’s attempt to cross the Atlantic in a cluster balloon craft inspired by Disney/Pixar‘s Up, he was forced to land in a remote part of Newfoundland. Trappe was reportedly unharmed after a technical glitch necessitated he set down about 350 miles from the Caribou, Maine launch site. According to reports, he is making preparations to get home. On landing in Newfoundland, he wrote on his Facebook page, “Hmm, this doesn’t look like France.”

PREVIOUS, THURSDAY PM: Jonathan Trappe is no Carl Fredricksen. No, unlike the crotchety old man in Up, Trappe is a living, breathing guy — one who is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a vehicle attached to 370 brightly colored helium balloons. The 39-year-old IT manager from North Carolina embarked Thursday morning on a planned 2,500-mile solo flight from Maine to Europe. The feat has never been tried; in fact, five people who ventured to cross the ocean in conventional hot air balloons have died trying. “I’m just as afraid of dying as anyone,” he told the London Daily Mail. “But I go forward in the spirit of adventure, doing something nobody has achieved before, and to live an interesting life.” Trappe is no dilettante: He already has flown the balloon craft — a customized rubber boat — over Lake Michigan, … Read More »

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OSCAR: The Awards Race Starts December

Pete Hammond

The controversial 38th International Animated Film Society’s Annie Awards announced their nominees for Best Animated Feature today:  Universal/Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me, DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon, Sony Pictures Classics’ The Illusionist, and Disney’s Tangled and Toy Story 3. What the official press release didn’t mention is that Disney/Pixar is boycotting the awards and refusing to participate due to complaints they have about the voting process among other things. Though the Annies nominated two Disney films in the top category as well as directing and writing for Toy Story 3 (how could they avoid it and maintain cred?), the group gave Disney and Pixar only 7 mentions. But the Annies showered 15 nominations on DWA’s Dragon and 39 nods overall that included films like Megamind and Shrek Forever After. It’s interesting that there was no mention of vote totals in the ASIFA-Hollywood release. Hmm. Something’s wrong in Toonville, and both Disney/Pixar and the Annies have some explaining to do.

“Hosted” screenings by notables not directly connected to the movies in contention for awards seem to be rampant these days. For instance, at the DGA in Hollywood, Sean Penn moderated a Q&A Sunday with his 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Javier Bardem (who received a standing ovation) after a screening of Biutiful. Similar screenings for that film have been moderated by the likes of Werner Herzog and Robert Benton with upcoming unspoolings hosted by Michael Mann and Alfonso Cuaron. The DGA has a long tradition of inviting other directors to interview contenders. Joel Coen recently talked up Sofia Coppola after Somewhere screened in NYC while Alexander … Read More »

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OSCAR: Animation Entries Down To Wire; But Will There Be Enough For 5 Nominees?

Pete Hammond

Today the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences sent out a reminder confirming the 5 PM PT November 1st deadline for 2010 Best Animated feature entries. At this point there do not appear to be enough entries to trigger five nominations rather than the more common three but there is still time, brother. What wasn’t mentioned in the release is the number that have been received so far at the Academy. A really good clue though is a  letter I have learned that was  sent late last week updating members and potential members of the Animation committee (the ones doing the voting)  and informing them that 14 entries had been received but that it was still possible to reach 16, the magic number needed to expand the category. Last year a flurry of last minute entries flooded the Acad offices and Oscar ‘toon watchers were hoping the same might miraculously happen this year. Academy rules state that in any year with 8 to 15 eligible entries there will be three nominations allowed but if it’s 16 or more there will be five contenders, as has happened twice (including last year) since the  category was created in 2001 when Dreamworks’ Shrek became the first winner.

Dreamworks Animation has only won once  since then (for releasing 2005’s Wallace & Gromit in The Curse Of The Were Rabbit) and is back in the game big time this year with its March release, How To Train Your Dragon but would also love to see its upcoming  Megamind (Nov 5) in the … Read More »

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