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Warner Bros Next Movie Star: Bugs Bunny

By | Thursday August 12, 2010 @ 5:44pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has hired Elf scribe David Berenbaum to write Bugs Bunny, a live action/CG feature film designed to revive one of the studio’s most iconic intellectual properties. I’m told that Berenbaum, who also adapted The Spiderwick Chronicles and is writing an animated project with George Lucas–just closed his deal.  No producer has yet been assigned. While Warner Bros has struggled to pick winners out of its DC Comics catalog beyond Batman, the studio has done little with its Looney Tunes catalog lately. Warner Bros scored with the 1996 film Space Jam, mingling Looney Tunes characters with NBA Read More »

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‘Cleveland’ Sold To TBS & Adult Swim

Nellie Andreeva

Cleveland-ShowTBS and Adult Swim have picked up the off-network rights to Fox’s animated series The Cleveland Show for a fall 2013 launch. This marks the third syndication sale for Twentieth Television in the past week, following the deals with USA Network for Modern Family and with Oxygen for Glee. The combined license fee for Cleveland is said to be in the neighborhood of $500,000 an episode, in line with what Oxygen is paying for Glee. Meanwhile, Modern Family commanded a reported $1.4 million per episode, close to the $1.5 million that The Big Bang Theory landed from TBS in May. In fact, it was the blockbuster Big Bang deal that spurred the flurry of activity on the off-network front this summer as syndicators are looking to take advantage of the excitement in the cable marketplace following the record-breaking deal for Big Bang. As for Cleveland’s sale to TBS and sibling Adults Swim, that is hardly a surprise. TBS already has Family Guy, the show that spun off Cleveland. And it’s the only mainstream cable network to air original African American comedies, House of Payne, Meet the Browns and Are We There Yet? Meanwhile, Adult Swim’s reruns of Family Guy following its cancellation by Fox played a big role in resurrecting the animated series. Cleveland is the latest fall 2009 series to land an off-network deal during or after its freshman season, following pacts for Modern Family, Glee and CBS’ NCIS: Read More »

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RHCSE Signs Four More Kids Books

Princess PoppyIt’s all children’s TV and movies today. RHCSE has optioned its next four projects: Fish-Head Steve by Jamie Smart; the Gargoyles series by Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler: the Charlie Small series by Nick Ward; and the Princess Poppy books by Janey Louise Jones. All four are being developed for TV animation or CGI, apart from Charlie Small, which may be developed as a film. The Princess Poppy series has sold over two million copies to date. RHCSE made its first move in February, taking media rights to Monster Republic by Ben Horton. Producer/financier Komixx Media Group says it’s on track to raise $100 million to fund all its programming including RHCSE projects.

The great thing about books in these recessionary, risk-averse times is that they’re brands with audiences already built in. It makes them that bit easier to sell.

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PIXAR’S BIGGEST: ‘Toy Story 3′ Plays For $109M Weekend; #2 ‘Karate Kid’ Holds $29M; #7 ‘Jonah Hex’ Bombs For $5M

By | Sunday June 20, 2010 @ 12:05am PDT

SUNDAY AM: Here are Friday, Saturday, weekend, and cume estimates:

toystory_3_21. Pixar/Disney’s Toy Story 3 is the 3D monster everybody thought it would be with $41 million Friday and $37 million Saturday and an estimated $31M Sunday on 4,028 locations, including 2,463 3D screens (of which 180 are IMAX which did $8.4M at 180 theaters or 8% of TS3 overall weekend domestic gross for the biggest IMAX animated film ever and the 5th highest IMAX domestic opener ever). The 3D ticket price advantage made this Pixar’s biggest, swamping previous Pixar 2D opening weekends, including 2003 Finding Nemo‘s $70.2M and 2004 The Incredibles‘ $70.4M. Toy Story 3 will debut to $111M this weekend (with that fat +46% admission  price which adds about $18M to every $100M of box office gross). But TS3 was still 2nd to Shrek 3‘s opening. “The Toy Story films are the heart and soul of Pixar,” said Darla K. Anderson, producer of Toy Story 3. Which is why it drew 40% of its non-family audience from young adults ages 17-24 who grew up with the Toy Story characters and Disney targeted them with college screening programs. Also going for it were brilliant reviews with a Cinema Score of “A” and a Rotten Tomatoes tally of “99%” positive reviews. Plus, Fathers Day is a huge moviegoing opportunity for families — “if you have the right movie,” a studio exec reminds me. Which this is, of course. This threequel gives Pixar/Disney their 11th No. 1 debut, the highest June weekend opening in industry history, and only the 3rd animated … Read More »

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Fox’s ‘Cleveland’ Renewed For Season 3

By | Thursday June 10, 2010 @ 10:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Cleveland-ShowFox has picked up freshman animated comedy The Cleveland Show for a third season.

“Looks like somebody’s gettin’ some new rims for his Big Wheel!  Many thanks to the handsome decision makers at FOX,” said Rallo Tubbs.

Because of their longer production cycles, animated series get their pickups on a different schedule. For instance, Fox ordered a second season of Cleveland before the Family Guy spinoff’s first season premiere last fall. Airing Sundays at 8:30PM, Cleveland features the voices of Mike Henry, Sanaa Lathan, Reagan Gomez, Kevin Michael Richardson, Jason Sudeikis and Seth MacFarlane, as well as Arianna Huffington in a recurring role. It follows Cleveland Brown (Henry), as he settles into married life with his high school sweetheart and their blended family in his hometown of Stoolbend, VA.

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Changing Release Dates: Disney Studios

By | Thursday May 13, 2010 @ 5:12pm PDT

WINNIE THE POOH (animated) now dated on July 15th, 2011.

REBOOT RALPH (animated in Disney Digital 3D) now dated on March 22, 2013 wide.

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Haim Saban Buys Back ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ Franchise & Brings It To Nickelodeon And Nicktoons

By | Wednesday May 12, 2010 @ 3:04pm PDT

Power-RangersSaban Capital Group announced today it has purchased the Power Rangers property from the Walt Disney Company. Immediately, another news release announced that Nickelodeon and Saban Brands have partnered to put the Power Rangers on the air for an 18th TV season.

haim sabanSaban introduced the first Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series in 1993 and made a mint off it. His acquisition from Disney includes worldwide rights to the brand as well as over 700 episodes produced over 17 years. The TV deal consists of 20 new episodes on Nickelodeon and Nicktoons in 2011, with the catalog of 700 episodes launching on Nicktoons later this year.

Produced by SCG Power Rangers LLC, will commence production in summer 2010 with original Executive Producer Jonathan Tzachor back at the helm and a new cast, look and theme for the show.

“Power Rangers is one of the world’s leading children’s entertainment properties and we are delighted to see its return,” said Haim Saban, chairman and chief executive officer, Saban Capital Group, Inc.

Following its introduction in 1993 on the Fox Kids Network, Power Rangers quickly became the most watched children’s television program in the United States. The series has been translated into numerous languages and rose to become the #1 boys brand in the world from 1993-97, based on toy sales and television ratings. The Walt Disney Company acquired the franchise in 2001 as part of its purchase of … Read More »

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Time Square Bomb’s ‘South Park’ Link

By | Sunday May 2, 2010 @ 8:32pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Granted, it sounds ridiculous. But was the foiled Saturday car bombing attempt in Time Square a retaliation against Comedy Central for airing the infamous Mohammed arc on South Park? The theory, which stems from the the fact that the explosives-laden SUV was parked right next to the headquarters of Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom, quickly gained popularity Sunday, with no less than a New York Congressman — U.S. Rep. Peter King — among those who called the connection “a possibility.” Last month, a New York-based radical Muslim group threatened to kill South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker over the show’s depiction of Prophet Mohammed.

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DID COMEDY CENTRAL WUSS OUT? ‘South Park’ Defies Muslim Extremists But Prophet Muhammad Gets Censored; UPDATE: Matt & Trey Say “Can’t Stand Behind” Show

By | Thursday April 22, 2010 @ 10:54am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: Here is a statement from Matt and Trey:

TV South Park Muslims“In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.”

Comedy_Central_logo_svgPREVIOUS: South Park creators defied death threats from a radical Muslim group by continuing their Prophet Muhammad-themed storyline. But the network, wisely, took precaution by censoring Muhammad’s image and name. It’s not clear if that would appease the New York-based group Revolution Muslim, which posted a message on its website after last week’s 200th episode claiming that producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone had insulted their prophet by briefly showing him in a bear costume (any physical representation of the prophet is considered blasphemous by Islam) and threatening that they will “probably wind up like [Dutch filmmaker] Theo Van Gogh” who was murdered by Muslim extremists. Last night, the Muhammad character’s face was covered by a black box and the mention of his name … Read More »

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Cartoon Network Launches Quarter-Hour Series, Brings Back ‘Looney Toons’

By | Wednesday April 21, 2010 @ 10:01am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

After moving away from its core animation fare into live-action series over the past year, Cartoon Network is adding more new genres. At its upfront presentation today, the cable network announced its first awards show franchise and quarter-hour animated comedies as well as a new Looney Toons series. The network’s Hall of Game awards show honoring athletes, which will premiere in early 2011, is created and produced by IMG. Cartoon’s new quarter-hour comedy programming block will include new series MAD and Secret Mountain Fort Awesome as well as previously announced  Regular Show and Robotomy.

Mad: Inspired by DC Comics’ iconic MAD Magazine and produced by Warner Bros. Animation, the animated sketch-comedy series is exec produced by Sam Register (Teen Titans)

Secret Mountain Fort Awesome: About monsters unleashed on the world. Created by Chowder writer and artist Pete Browngardt and produced by Cartoon Network Studios.

On the live-action side, the network has ordered pilot KROG, a half-hour scripted comedy about monsters sent to conquer mankind Mark Rivers (TV Funhouse) is the creator for Cartoon Network Studios. Cartoon’s first hourlong live-action scripted series   Unnatural History will premiere June 13, with another hourlong scripted show, Tower Prep launching later this year.

And back by popular demand: The Looney Tunes Show — a new half-hour animated comedy series starring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.  Other new animated Cartoon series include Young Justice, about a teen superheros based on DC Comics characters.

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More R.I.P.s

By | Sunday April 11, 2010 @ 5:29pm PDT

His family tells me that Eddie Carroll, who touched countless people’s lives as the voice of Jiminy Cricket for almost 40 years, died of a brain tumor on April 6th. He was 66. Jiminy Cricket is the longest recurring character voice actor in the Disney stable of characters, and Carroll took over from the late Cliff Edwards, the original voice, in 1973. “He absolutely loved performing the voice,” Rick Dempsey, SVP of Disney Character Voices told the studio in-house newsletter. “He was so into the character and truly took to heart what Jiminy was all about.”

Also, Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin official in The Wizard Of Oz who proclaimed in the movie that the Wicked Witch was “really most sincerely dead,” has himself died Friday morning in a Florida hospital. He was 94. He was one of the 124 Munchkins from the 1939 classic film and one of only 9 who had speaking parts. AP has a comprehensive obituary that goes deep into Munchkin lore.

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LucasFilm Develops New ‘Star Wars’ Toon

By | Monday April 5, 2010 @ 5:43pm PDT

lucasfilm_logoThis new animated series is going to be comedic and involve the creators of Robot Chicken, including Seth Green, who did the successful Star Wars parody specials. will now be involved. No network is lined up yet but the Cartoon Network airs Star Wars: The Clone Wars , while Robot Chicken runs on the Adult Swim block:

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. April 5, 2010) – Lucasfilm Animation is currently developing an all-new animated Star Wars series, focusing its efforts on the comedic aspects of the “galaxy far, far away.” Featuring creative involvement from Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, creators and executive producers of the Emmy and Annie Award-winning Robot Chicken, as well as writing from The Daily Show’s Brendan Hay, the series will look at the Saga’s characters with a playful and irreverent tone. The series will be produced by Daytime Emmy and Gemini Award-winner Jennifer Hill (The Backyardigans), and directed by Emmy-nominated Todd Grimes (Back at the Barnyard).

“There are so many stories taking place in the Star Wars universe, and they don’t all have to focus on the fate of the galaxy,” said Grimes. “We’re looking at Star Wars from a new perspective; this will be a glimpse at how the rest of the galaxy is affected by the events of the Saga. There’s a lot of humor to be mined from that.”

“The Star Wars universe is so dense and rich; it’s crazy to think that there aren’t normal, mundane everyday

Read More »

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More On Tim Burton & ‘The Addams Family’

By | Wednesday March 24, 2010 @ 10:06am PDT
Mike Fleming

Last week, I wrote about a Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment deal to acquire the original Addams Family drawings by Charles Addams so Tim Burton could direct a stop-motion 3D animated film. Numerous Deadline readers thought the story was false based on an “exclusive” report. I stand by my story. The deal happened. Deadline hardly needs to become a self-appointed truth squad. That site should stick to its strength –which appears to be aggregating, and all the breathless scoops that come from surface-scratching celebrity junket interviews. As for my own cynical readers, I figure you are the same ones who sent nyah-nyah missives when Neil Patrick Harris denied my report that he would be in the song and dance number that opened the Academy Awards. (He rehearsed with Martin Short, but the latter bowed out due to a personal emergency). You guys should learn to trust me.

UPDATE: and I buried the hatchet.

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Tim Burton’s Next 3D Animated Film? Da Da Da Da, Snap Snap: ‘The Addams Family’

By | Thursday March 18, 2010 @ 8:13am PDT
Mike Fleming

addams-cartoonEXCLUSIVE: Alice in Wonderland director Tim Burton has found a new 3D project. He will direct a stop-motion animated film based on Charles Addams’ original ghoulish cartoon drawings of The Addams Family. Illumination Entertainment, the Universal-based family film unit headed by Chris Meledandri, has acquired the underlying rights of the Addams drawings, once a staple of The New Yorker magazine.

Burton’s intention is to go back to the litany of Addams illustrations that displayed a sharper wit than seen on the big or little screen before. Other than being inspired by the same source material, the animated feature is unrelated to previous incarnations of Addams’ work: the 1960s TV series, the two 1990s feature film comedies that Barry Sonnenfeld directed with Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston, or the Broadway musical opening this spring with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth in the starring roles.6a00d8345157d269e200e54f7038368833-

Meladandri will produce the film. Kevin Miserocchi of the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation will be executive producer. A writer will be hired shortly. Burton, whose visual creations are currently on display at a MOMA exhibit that opened last November, is expected to provide much of the visual look of the film himself.

Burton’s experience in animated film is extensive. He last directed Corpse Bride, and is making a feature version of Frankenweenie, the 1984 30-minute short film Burton made about a boy who reanimates his dead dog. That reportedly got him … Read More »

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South Park 200th: “Forget The Trade Ads!”

By | Thursday March 4, 2010 @ 10:02am PST
Mike Fleming

south park 200th

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R.I.P. Roy Disney

By | Wednesday December 16, 2009 @ 3:00pm PST

UPDATE: The nephew of Walt Disney died at age 79 after a bout with cancer.

roy disney 1It wouldn’t have mattered so much if Roy E. Disney had not been the son of Roy O. Disney who’d founded the Walt Disney Company with his brother. Or if Roy had not looked so eerily like a mirror image of his late uncle. Because he did, it seemed Walt Disney himself came back from the grave in 2003/2004 to rid the Mouse House of Michael Eisner, the man Roy had famously hired back in 1984. Few men lead two coups, much less on the same company.

And that will be Roy’s legacy.

Most of the time, Roy was more likely found at his Irish castle or on his 70-foot sailboat than leading a boardroom brawl. In both cases, the reaction was surprise, followed by headlines, followed by “What took so long?” Of course, Roy was helped by his financial guru Stanley Gold. Each time Roy used as his reasoning that the Walt Disney Co had grown creatively stagnant.

The great irony, of course, was that Roy Disney beginning in 1984 waged war against Walt’s son-in-law Ron Miller, and found the billionaire Bass Brothers of Ft. Worth to help bankroll his battle. Then Roy brought in Michael Eisner. The two men had met back in 1980 when Eisner joined Roy on the board of the California Institute of Arts, which was founded by Walt as a training … Read More »

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10 Animated Shorts Advance For Oscars

By | Friday November 20, 2009 @ 3:37pm PST

Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 animated short films will advance in the voting process for the 82nd Academy Awards®. Thirty-seven pictures had originally qualified in the category.

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production company:

“The Cat Piano,” Eddie White and Ari Gibson, directors (The People’s Republic of Animation)

“French Roast,” Fabrice O. Joubert, director (Pumpkin Factory/Bibo Films)

“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty,” Nicky Phelan, director, and Darragh O’Connell, producer (Brown Bag Films)

“The Kinematograph,” Tomek Baginski, director-producer (Platige Image)

“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte),” Javier Recio Gracia, director (Kandor Graphics and Green Moon)

“Logorama,” Nicolas Schmerkin, producer (Autour de Minuit)

“A Matter of Loaf and Death,” Nick Park, director (Aardman Animations Ltd.)

“Partly Cloudy,” Peter Sohn, director (Pixar Animation Studios)

“Runaway,” Cordell Barker, director (National Film Board of Canada)

“Variete,” Roelof van den Bergh, director (il Luster Productions)

The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting in screenings held in New York and Los Angeles.

Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 10 titles on the shortlist. Branch screenings will be held in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco in January 2010.

The 82nd Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be presented on Sunday,

Read More »

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Golden Globe Animation Category Expands

By | Tuesday November 17, 2009 @ 11:07am PST

GoldenGlobesLogoThere will be five contenders for the Best Animated Feature category when the bogus 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards nominations are announced at 5 AM (PT) on December 15th. Members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association voted last week to expand this year’s number of nominations for Best Animated Feature to five. The amended rule now reads: Eligible films must be feature-length (70 minutes or longer) with no more than 25% live action. If less than eight animated films qualify, the award will not be given, in which case the films would be eligible for Best Picture. If less than twelve animated films qualify, the category will be limited to three nominations per year. The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards, hosted by Ricky Gervais, will be broadcast live January 17 on NBC.

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20 Animated Films Vying For 2009 Oscars

By | Wednesday November 11, 2009 @ 5:03pm PST

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences stated today:

Beverly Hills, CA — Twenty features have been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 82nd Academy Awards®.

The 20 submitted features are:

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Astro Boy
Battle for Terra
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Disney’s A Christmas Carol
The Dolphin – Story of a Dreamer
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Mary and Max
The Missing Lynx
Monsters vs. Aliens
Planet 51
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
A Town Called Panic

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, The Dolphin – Story of a Dreamer, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Planet 51, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells and A Town Called Panic have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying run. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and meet all of the category’s other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process. Under the rules for this category, a maximum of 5 features can be nominated in a year in which the field of eligible entries numbers at least 16. Films submitted in the Animated Feature Film category also may qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.

The 82nd Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be presented on Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Kodak

Read More »

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