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Vicki Tracy

Wednesday, June 30, 1999

Pokemon Soundtrack Released
KOCH Records, Nintendo of America Inc., 4Kids Entertainment Inc. and Cherry Lane Music Publishing Co. Inc.announced the first North American music release for the hugely successful Pokemon sensation -- "PoKeMoN -- 2.B.A. MASTER," featuring music from the No. 1 network kids television program.

Featuring the full-length versions of "Pokemon Theme," "PokeRAP," "The Time Has Come" and 10 brand-new songs, this soon-to-be-hit album arrives in stores Tuesday on cassette ($10.98 SRP) and on an enhanced CD ($16.98 SRP). The new songs on this album will be featured on Pikachu's Jukebox, a new segment on the WB television show, which will air nationally beginning Sept. 4, 1999.

The "PoKeMoN -- 2.B.A. MASTER" CD is specially enhanced to contain the popular "PokeRAP" music video in its entirety. In addition, the CD booklet folds out to a collectible four-color poster featuring the show's favorite characters. Also inside each CD will be a $15 factory rebate coupon redeemable with select Game Boy Pocket and Pokemon Red or Blue games (limited time only). Pokemon is the No. 1 kids' show on television in the United States and is the sixth most searched for word on the Internet.

PoKeMoN -- 2.B.A. MASTER" features pop music suitable for kids and teen-agers. The tracks are "Pokemon Theme," "2.B.A. Master," "Viridian City," "What Kind of Pokemon Are You?," "My Best Friends," "Everything Changes," "The Time Has Come (Pikachu's Goodbye)," "Pokemon (Dance Mix)," "Double Trouble (Team Rocket)," "Together Forever," "Misty's Song," "PokeRAP" and "You Can Do It (If You Really Try)."  The CD is available now.

Tuesday, June 29, 1999

South Park Will Test Theater Owners - Originally Rated NC-17
Animation Artist magazine has confirmed that the new South Park movie that hits theaters tomorrow originally received a NC-17 rating. Referring to the South Park movie, today's New York Times states, "For months the ratings board insisted on the more prohibitive NC-17, which means no one under 17 may be admitted." Only through some negotiating and changes did the South Park team get it rated down to an "R". South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut will be the first movie to test theater owners resolve to check kids IDs who want to see an "R" film and turn away those not old enough. This promise was made to congress in order to help avoid government intervention in wake of recent school tragedies. According to today's New York Post, "In terms of language alone, the Paramount-Warner Bros. co-production is undoubtedly one of the filthiest mainstream films ever released... The South Park movie proves the people who run Paramount and Warner Bros. have no shame. What I want to know is, do they have kids? Or just bank accounts?"

The staff of Animation Artist magazine have made an ethical decision not to watch and not to review this so-called "animated" film.

Katzenberg Versus Disney Trial: Focus on Pricing
The Katzenberg versus Disney trial continued this week with Katzenberg's team focusing on how Disney "under prices" the films it sells to its own subsidiaries like ABC. According to today's Variety, "As part of the legal proceedings to set a value on the bonus, Katzenberg is arguing that Disney is not getting fair market value when it sells television rights of its animated films to Disney-owned companies." This would result in Katzenberg being owned more money for his guaranteed 2% bonus, which is no longer in dispute after a judge ruled he's entitled to the 2% bonus.

Monday, June 28, 1999

Tarzan has Strong Saturday and Sunday
Tarzan recovered from Friday's 43% drop with a very strong Saturday and Sunday. When final Box Office figures are available later today, it is expected that Tarzan will have brought in $23.5 million, which is only a 31% drop from its opening weekend.

Austin Powers Animated Series?
USA Today reported last week that HBO is preparing for 13 half-hour animated episodes of Austin Powers, including many of the voices being provided by Mike Myer.

Rugrats Video Game Release
THQ Inc.and Nickelodeon are bringing the most popular babies on the planet to the Nintendo 64 for the first time with the release of "Rugrats: Scavenger Hunt."

Starring characters from the No. 1-rated kids TV show, "Rugrats," this interactive board game's turn-based format and intuitive style encourage kids and parents to play together. "Rugrats: Scavenger Hunt" is available at major retail outlets nationwide for a suggested retail price of $49.95.

"The results of THQ's first `Rugrats' release for the PlayStation far exceeded our expectations, proving the importance of developing truly entertaining game alternatives appropriate for the younger age group," stated Alison Locke, senior vice president, marketing and sales, THQ. "Creating a game based on this increasingly popular property for the Nintendo 64 game system provides another safe and fun gaming alternative for families to enjoy."

Sunday, June 27, 1999

Tarzan Falls to Second in Early Weekend Box Office Reports
Tarzan took a big hit on Friday, falling 43% from last Friday. Most critics predicted a 25% or less drop from last weekend because of the strong reviews and strong word of mouth. The 43% drop put Tarzan well behind the new Adam Sandler movie, Big Daddy, which brought in $14.5 million compared to Tarzan's $6.5 million. While that may be bad news, the great news is that in its first eight days, Tarzan has made over $60 million, a mega-impressive number for an animated film.

Saturday, June 26, 1999

Alias/Wavefront Ships Maya 2
Alias|Wavefront announced Maya 2 is shipping concurrently for Microsoft Windows NT and Silicon Graphics IRIX workstations. This is the newest major release of its 3D animation and visual effects software for film, visual effects, broadcast and game development.

Maya 2 includes many feature enhancements, timesaving workflow improvements and across-the-board performance optimizations for 3D animation and visual effects.

New features include:

- Alias|Wavefront's award winning Wavefront IPR (Interactive Photorealistic Renderer), an rendering technology that allows users to interactively edit lights, shaders, textures and visual effects in a final rendered image.

- New workflow improvements include support for polygons in Maya Artisan, Maya software's unique brush sculpting tool, and the addition of a new shader creation environment called Maya HyperShade.

- Other new features include a "pose-based" character interface and new skinning techniques to streamline production workflow in a way that is familiar to traditional animators.

Maya software's new Advanced Modeling features include the integration of NURBs tools and subdivision surface technology, a modeling refinement tool for the creation and editing of seamless organic shapes. Notable performance enhancements include significant memory and speed improvements in Maya software's renderer, plus the introduction of multi-processor support by the Maya batch renderer.

Click here for the full story.

Friday, June 25, 1999

Penalty Phase of Katzenberg Versus Disney Trial Continues
Witnesses are still being called in the penalty phase of the Katzenberg versus Disney trial with their estimates on how much Katzenberg is owed.  The trial spent nearly an entire day focusing on China. According to the Daily Variety, Katzenberg witness Edward Tse painted a rosy future of Disney videos in China that would contribute many millions to the 2% bonus that Katzenberg is owed by Disney. Interestingly enough, Tse used a quote from Disney CEO Michael Eisner to help bolster his claims. "China represents a major potential consumer market for Disney," Eisner wrote in a 1996 letter to the Disney board. "Within 25 years, China will likely become the largest economy in the world."

Pokemon: The Movie Coming to North America!
Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to distribute Pokemon The Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back, the first animated Pokemon feature film, to a worldwide audience, excluding Asia.

The big-screen version of the immensely popular franchise will be a Kids' WB! Presentation, and will open in theaters throughout North America on Nov. 12, with distribution in the rest of the world to follow. The announcement was made Thursday by Sanford E. Reisenbach, Warner Bros. executive vice president of marketing and planning.

Pokemon The Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back was produced in Japan by Shogakukan Productions Co. Ltd. When the film was released there last summer, it became the fourth-highest grossing film in Japan for 1998.

Pokemon The Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back is an epic adventure featuring the debut of new, bio-engineered "Super-Pokemon," whose powers rival those of the existing creatures, creating exciting new plot twists and turns.

The new Pokemon appears in this film for the first time in any format; it cannot yet be seen on television or in any video game. For the upcoming release of the film, the producers are adding a new musical score.

"The Pokemon storyline combines a variety of appealing characters that not only entertains kids but reinforces teamwork and cooperation," stated Reisenbach. "The interest and fervor for Pokemon, by both boys and girls, is incredible. Pokemon The Movie is family entertainment that everyone will enjoy."

Pokemon is set in a fantasy world populated by 151 different imaginary creatures called Pokemon, each possessing unique, special powers or abilities. In the Pokemon environment, human beings act as Pokemon trainers, capturing as many of the creatures as they can. The Pokemon then join the trainer's team and help capture other Pokemon, enabling their human companions to become "Pokemon Masters."

In the feature film, Ash Ketchum, accompanied by his friends Misty, Brock and Pikachu (a favorite, electrically-charged Pokemon), continues his quest to become the world's greatest Pokemon trainer. The challenge is greater than ever when Mewtwo, a bio-engineered Pokemon, creates a strain of Super-Pokemon and sets the stage for the ultimate Pokemon battle.

A 22-minute short subject, Pikachu's Vacation, will precede the feature. In addition to Mewtwo, four brand-new Pokemon will appear in Pikachu's Vacation.

Thursday, June 24, 1999

Warner Brothers Cartoon Characters to Star in Video Games
Daily Variety reports that Warner Brothers cartoon characters, like Bugs Bunny, are about to star in their own 3D video games. According to the magazine, "The studio division has inked a five year multi-million dollar licensing deal with videogame creator Infogrames Entertainment to produce 20 titles based on its animated franchise."

Tarzan Soundtrack Burns up Billboard Charts
After only its fifth week in release, the Tarzan soundtrack -- which shipped platinum (over 1 million units) -- jumps into the top 10 of Billboard magazine's "Top 200" album chart, selling a total of over 270,000 units in just five weeks. Following the box-office success of the movie (which opened at No. 1 with a cumulative total of over $44 million in less than a week), the album jumped from No. 30 on the chart last week to No. 10 this week with over 110,000 units sold. The Tarzan soundtrack also climbed up Billboard's "Top Soundtracks" chart to No. 3. In other Tarzan news, Phil Collins still has something to sing about as the first single from the Tarzan soundtrack, "You'll Be in My Heart," stays at No. 1 on Adult Contemporary radio playlists for the seventh week in a row, making it Collins' longest-running No. 1 A/C single ever.The song, which impacted at Adult Contemporary and Hot Adult Contemporary radio stations across the country on April 5, 1999, had the most first-week adds of any song in the history of A/C radio. "You'll Be in My Heart" is Collins' seventh A/C No. 1 and the first A/C No. 1 from an animated Disney film since Michael Bolton topped the chart for three weeks in the summer of 1997 with "Go the Distance" from Hercules.

Wednesday, June 23, 1999

London Times: Disney Doesn't Need Katzenberg
The London Times, on Tuesday, printed an interesting column by Giles Whittell titled, "This is How the Dream Works." The article starts off by saying, "Walt Disney should be allowed a smug smile from his grave. It has been a good few days for the empire that bears his name and a bad one for its most determined detractor. The reason is Tarzan , the ape-man with the endless film career. He and a cast of highly articulate cartoon animals have pulled in $34 million from American filmgoers in three days even as Jeffrey Katzenberg, the disgruntled former Disney mogul, tries to persuade a Los Angeles judge that the studio only pulled off this sort of trick when he was working there." The rest of the column goes on to review Tarzan, stating that the real star of the animated feature is Rosie O'Donnell as Terk.

Former Disney Executive Testifies at Katzenberg vs. Disney Trial Daily Variety reports that "Over repeated objections from Disney attorneys, a former Mouse House executive now at DreamWorks testified Monday that Disney dominates the market in animated features and is actually increasing its market share in home video. Former prexy of Buena Vista Home Video Ann Daly was on the witness stand for Jeffrey Katzenberg in his breach-of-contract lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co. Daly is now in charge of home video and animation at DreamWorks." The Katzenberg versus Disney trial is expected to wrap up soon. Katzenberg won the first part of the trial with a ruling that he is entitled to his 2% bonus and did not forfeit it when leaving Disney. Now the determination to how much he is owed is on trial. Katzenberg's team says that he is owed over $500 million.

Tuesday, June 22, 1999

Final Weekend Tally is in — Tarzan Makes $34.2 Million
Tarzan made $34.2 million when the final tallies were completed yesterday, $12 million more than what Mulan made in its opening weekend last year ($22 million). It is the second best animated opening ever, topped only by The Lion King in 1994 (which brought in over $40 million in its opening weekend). In related news, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace has passed The Lion King in the all time highest-grossing movies list. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace pushed The Lion King to seventh to take over the sixth spot.

High School Winners Get 3D Studio MAX in Contest
Autodesk awarded Bound Brook High School in Bound Brook, New Jersey, its Award for Excellence in Engineering Design Visualization and Communication at this year's FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Foundation National robotics contest. This team and its corporate sponsor Ethicon, Inc., most effectively demonstrated use of software technology tools in the context of solving the 1999 FIRST Competition engineering design challenge. Entries are judged on how well they visually communicate engineering design, assembly, functionality, and competitive strategy for their robot. The entries are also rated on the story used to convey the challenge and excitement of The FIRST Competition. Bound Brook High School's winning animation paid particular attention to detail in the animation and combined special effects as well as video footage with the animation in a particularly creative way. Student contributors for this award-winning entry will each receive education software grants of 3D Studio MAX software.

Monday, June 21, 1999

Tarzan is King of the Jungle for Box Office Weekend
Disney's Tarzan was the clear winner in the Box Office race over the weekend, beating out Star Wars: Episode 1, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me , and The General's Daughter. Tarzan had an impressive opening weekend, estimated at $34.1 million. The outstanding performance is the second largest ever for an animated feature. Only The Lion King performed better on its opening weekend ($40.1 million).  The closest competition Disney faced was from Austin Powers, which made an estimated $31.9 million. According to the Daily Variety, exit polls showed that 35% of those that went to see Tarzan were adults without children, which shows that the animated film has a reach beyond kids. 52% of those who went to see Tarzan were females while 48% were males.

Firm Wins Award for Promotion of Pixar's "Geri's Game"
The editors of "Inside PR" and "Reputation Management" recently awarded Niehaus Ryan Wong, Inc. their prestigious Creativity in Public Relations Award (CIPRA). NRW won the award in the Entertainment category for their branding and promotion campaign of Pixar Animation Studios' short animated film "Geri's Game."

The campaign succeeded in securing "Geri's Game" a nomination for "Best Animated Short Film" of 1998 by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The nomination, and subsequent award of an Oscar, helped position Pixar as one of the top animation studios in the world.

"During our PR campaign efforts, NRW treated the promotion of the short like it was a full-length animated feature and created a Hollywood-style premiere party for the film, mailing literature and visuals about the making of 'Geri's Game' to media who could gain the attention of Academy voters," said Blaise Simpson, Director of the New Media and Entertainment Group. "This strategy helped us land hundreds of mentions about the various aspects of the short film, and its making, in top-tier consumer publications including TIME, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times."

NRW's branding campaign on behalf of Pixar and "Geri's Game" won the CIPRA award among a field of more than 1,800 competitors, a record number in any PR industry award competition.

Sunday, June 20, 1999

Disney Institute Animated Film Festival this August
How would you like to spend a weekend with Roger Rabbit? Or Captain Hook? Or everyone's favorite canine co-stars, Lady and the Tramp?

At the Disney Institute Animated Film Festival, Aug. 6-8, guests will have the chance to attend exclusive screenings of the animated feature films that made these 'toon stars famous and meet some of the people who brought the characters to life. The event features rare screenings of six Disney animated classics and selected short subjects, along with special artist discussions and a hands-on Disney Institute animation program.

Special guests include Mary Costa, the voice of Princess Aurora in the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty, and noted animation author John Culhane. Also appearing will be legendary Disney animator and Imagineer Bill Justice, who began his career in 1937 and worked on classics including Fantasia, Bambi, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Justice is credited for developing famous Disney characters like Thumper and Chip 'n' Dale.

The films, which have not been released to theater audiences in a decade, will be presented in the Disney Institute Cinema. Highlights include:

* "Cinderella" (1950) -- Last released in theaters in 1987, this rags-to- riches fairy tale received two Academy Award nominations and was one of the highest-grossing films of 1950.

* "Peter Pan" (1953) -- The "boy who didn't want to grow up" embarks on an adventurous journey to Neverland, accompanied by the three Darling children -- Wendy, John and Michael -- as he fends off Captain Hook with the help of Tinker Bell. The film was last released in theaters in 1989.

* "Lady and the Tramp" (1955) -- Last seen in theaters in 1986, this dog "tale" follows the romance of Lady, a well-to-do cocker spaniel, and Tramp, a rail-yard mutt. The first Disney animated feature filmed in CinemaScope, it features classic tunes like "The Siamese Cat Song" and "He's a Tramp."

* "Sleeping Beauty" (1959) -- One of the most lavish and expensive animated features Walt Disney produced (with a budget that exceeded $6 million), this classic fairy tale recounts the story of Princess Aurora and her struggle to break the spell cast by the evil Maleficent. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the film was last released in theaters in 1986.

* "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988) -- This revolutionary film combines live action with eye-popping animation to achieve an industry breakthrough. Starring the incomparable Roger Rabbit and his alluring 'toon wife Jessica, the film features cameos by a host of famous animated characters. It received four Academy Awards, including a Special Achievement honor. "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" has yet to be re-released in theaters.

In addition to the full-length animated features, a number of short subjects starring famous characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Roger Rabbit will be presented during the festival.

Visiting feature animation artists and lecturers will also be on hand to discuss intimate details on the making of classic Disney films, and guests will have the opportunity to participate in a storyboard workshop.

The three-day, two-night Disney Institute Animated Film Festival package is $349 per person, based on double occupancy, and includes accommodations, feature film and short subject screenings, artist presentations, a hands-on animation program, breakfast with Disney Institute animators and a dinner with the event's special guests. Reservations and space are limited. For information or reservations, guests may call 800/282-9282, ext. XP01.

Saturday, June 19, 1999

Titanic Coming to DVD in September
20th Century FOX is releasing a DVD of Titanic this September to International Markets. Titanic, the biggest grossing movie of all time, was heralded for its realistic special effects. Unfortunately FOX seems to be ignoring request for added features that appear on many other CDs like behind-the-scenes footage, director commentary track, etc. FOX is known for its weakness in delivering extra bonuses in its DVD titles, unlike companies like Warner Brothers and DreamWorks, which usually include a ton of different options for the DVD owner. Animation Artist highly recommends that DVD owners check out the ANTZ DVD to get a wide array of features not found on the VHS version.

South Park Movie Rated "R" — Premiere is This Wednesday
South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut holds its world premiere this Wednesday, June 23, 1999. The premiere is at the Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Cast from the animated feature who will be attending the premiere include
Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, and Isaac Hayes. The movie hits theaters on June 30 with the TV series on shaky ground after losing a significant portion of South Park viewers this year over last year.

Friday, June 18, 1999

Tarzan Opens to Strong Reviews
Disney's Tarzan opened today to strong reviews (and a few average reviews) from critics nationwide. USA Today gave Tarzan 4 out of 4 stars stating, "With Tarzan, Disney returns to the fertile ground of its reigning animated King, and unveils its most vibrant and virile hero in ages." The Los Angeles Times states that out of the nearly 50 tellings of Tarzan, Disney's version ranks amongst the best. The New York Times also gives the movie a strong review stating, "Though it relinquishes some of Disney's toehold on an adult audience for animation, Tarzan is sprightly and likable in ways that are hard to resist. The exultant agility of its jungle scenes makes it clear that an animated version of this story really is something new." The New York Times did point out what it considered a weakness of the film - the ending. "The Disney version flails noticeably in finding a sunny resolution for its story."  Like USA Today, the Washington Times gave Tarzan 4 out of 4 stars, stating "Exciting, playful, stirring and amusing Tarzan really does have it all within a specialized, storybook system of illusion."

While most reviews were full of nothing but praise for Tarzan, there were a few that gave it average ratings, like Mr. Showbiz (interestingly enough, part of Disney's "Go" Network), which stated, " when it comes to story and characters, this baby goes straight up the middle [average]." Mr. Showbiz gave Tarzan a rating of 55 out of 100. The Orange County Register pointed out that while Tarzan may be one of Disney's most enjoyable to watch, it isn't one of the most memorable. "Only after enjoying the movie might audiences regret the movie's lack of heart and note the utterly bizarre absence of Africans in a movie with human characters set entirely in Africa," the review stated. The Chicago Tribune also gave Tarzan an average review, stating "this Tarzan as a whole is too tame. It lacks that special pizazz that the string of Disney cartoon features from The Little Mermaid through The Lion King all had (during Jeff Katzenberg's tenure) -- and that only the Pixar features Toy Story and A Bug's Life have shown consistently since."

Thursday, June 17, 1999

Animation Artist Non-Spoiler Review  — Disney's Tarzan
Disney's Tarzan is almost a shoe-in to make the Top 10 Animated Films of All Time for Box Office performance.  The music is strong, the animation is great, and the story is captivating — particularly the first 30 minutes before the human villain, Clayton, is introduced to the story.  After that, the story isn't as powerful and character motives and reactions falter (especially at the end with characters like Kerchak, the leader of the gorillas). While most adults will notice this slight downfall, kids will not.  In fact, kids will most likely love the entire movie and be captivated throughout.  And if the press screening we attended is any indication, kids will be running around like gorillas at the end of the movie.

Disney's Tarzan follows the extraordinary adventures of an orphaned infant raised by a family of gorillas and ultimately accepted as one of their own.  As Tarzan matures into a young man with all the instincts of a jungle animal and the physical prowess of an athletic superstar, his life changes forever when he finally meets other humans, with whom he feels an immediate and irresistible bond.

Tarzan is definitely the best animated movie so far this year and is a must-see animated film.  It will likely see a lot of repeat business and should easily sail throughout the summer as the #1 kids movie (with a possible challenge from The Iron Giant).  For kids, we give Tarzan a rating of 5 out of 5.  For adults we give it a 4 out of 5. If Disney had solved some of the problems listed in our spoiler review (warning, contains spoilers), it could have easily become a classic and received a 5 out of 5 in both categories.

Congratulations to all the animators and artists who put this summer-fun film together. And Disney - thank you for not making the villain sing!

Animation Artist Magazine Moves Headquarters
Animation Artist magazine is moving its headquarters today from Orange County, California to Santa Barbara, California. Because the move was well planned in advance, there should be no interuption in updates.

Katzenberg Versus Disney Trial Update
The fight over how much Disney owes Jeffrey Katzenberg continued yesterday with Disney lawyers challenging the credibility of financial figures indicating Disney owes Katzenberg hundreds of millions of dollars. According to Daily Variety , Disney gained some ground in its cross examination, but also faced a brief filing from Katzenberg attorneys, "
charging Disney with using 'a surprise spreadsheet' containing data it claimed had been destroyed." The penalty phase of the trial, which will award Katzenberg his 2% bonus on specific films he oversaw, continues today.

Wednesday, June 16, 1999

Latino Themed Animation in Production
Seeking to make Latino humor part of the palette of animated fare, leading Latino production company Si TV has consummated an agreement with Film Roman ("The Simpsons," "King of the Hill") for a prime-time, half-hour animated pilot titled "Stuck in the Middle." Written and co-created by Si TV Co-Chairman Jeff Valdez, the project will feature the vocal talents of co-creator and executive producer Cheech Marin, who also serves on the advisory board of Si TV.

Combining cell animation and video, "Stuck in the Middle" is described as a Latino "King of the Hill"-meets-"South Park." At its center is the savvy and sarcastic Joey Garcia (Marin), a 12-year-old whose home life in The Barrio stands in contrast to his schooling in The Bucks, a nearby wealthy enclave. Since his parents' home sits one inch into The Bucks' school district, he finds himself attending Gil Gates Middle School instead of Our Lady of Minimum Wage in The Barrio. Look for the show on cable in the year 2000.

Tuesday, June 15, 1999

Animation Artist Screening of Tarzan
The Animation Artist team attended a screening of Tarzan last night. Look for a review on Thursday. Hint: Kids will love it. Adults will like most of it. If you can suspend your belief in realistic character motives and reactions, you'll enjoy it even more.

Disney Team Attacks Figures From Katzenberg Witness
Disney lawyers are challenging figures by Booz-Allen & Hamilton consultant Michael Wolf on how much Wolf thinks Katzenberg is owed. Yesterday was the second day of cross-examination. According to the Daily Variety , "Moving from subject to subject, [Sandy] Litvack [Disney lawyer] gave a close-up view of why Disney thinks Katzenberg's projections are unrealistically high. Key to that theory is Disney's view that home video created a revolution in both viewing and sales that will not be matched by such subsequent technological enhancements as DVD or video-on-demand." Katzenberg could receive over $500 million, depending on the final conclusions of the judge.

Monday, June 14, 1999

Phil Collins to Translate Tarzan Songs
The Daily Variety is reporting that singer Phil Collins has recorded the songs from Tarzan in different languages to help "localize" the animated film. According to the Daily Variety, "the British singer has just mastered enough Spanish (two dialects), French, German and Italian to croon five songs in those languages for the soundtrack of Disney's upcoming animated release Tarzan...the aim is to ensure that the saga of the loin-clothed hero reaches the widest audience possible in foreign territories."

New Animation Series to Showcase Work by Women
Oxygen Media will undertake cable television's first original animated prime time series specifically targeting women, and named Machi Tantillo as Executive Producer of the series, it was announced today by Geraldine Laybourne, Oxygen's Chair and CEO. Ms. Tantillo, former Director of Animation at MTV, will report to Kit Laybourne, Oxygen's Head of Animation and Special Projects. Geraldine Laybourne said:

"Our goal is to create the first animated television series for women, exploring issues from a female point of view, says Geraldine Laybourne. "We also wanted to build an outlet specifically for female animators, whose distinctive voices will help us develop a unique Oxygen animation style and outlook."

Oxygen has already approved five pilots for inclusion in this animated prime time series, comprised of 13 half-hour episodes, each containing a mix of 3- to 7-minute segments. Plans call for the development of one or more of these segments into a spin-off show. The cable network will launch on February 2, 2000. About Machi Tantillo Prior to joining Oxygen, Ms. Tantillo spent six years at MTV Networks, most recently as Director of MTV Animation, co-supervising the production of MTV's animated series, features, specials and shorts.

"This is new territory for television, and Machi has an impressive track record in developing, producing, and directing cutting-edge animated projects as well as identifying and cultivating new talent," said Kit Laybourne. "Our recent RFP (Request for Pitches) for segment ideas was enthusiastically received by the animation industry, especially from female animators who have too few outlets for their talents."

Sunday, June 13, 1999

Howard Stern Involved in New Animated Series
Film Roman Inc. ("The Simpsons," "King of the Hill") has entered into an agreement with Howard Stern Productions and writer/producer Tracy Torme ("Sliders," "Star Trek: The Next Generation") to create the animated sci-fi/comedy series "Doomsday." The concept was created by Torme. Howard Stern will also play an integral role in the development of the script and in the production of the series. The announcement was made Wednesday by Film Roman President of Television Programming Mark Lieber, who described the sci-fi/comedy series as an original and innovative television concept that will redefine prime-time animated television.

A well-known cast of celebrities will be invited to voice the characters of "Doomsday," joining Howard Stern, who has agreed to voice a special character for the series. Stern will also be inviting a number of his celebrity friends to appear as special guest voices on the show.

"Doomsday" tells the story of the Bradley family, who travel in a motor-home across a post-apocalyptic United States in search of a new home and traditional family values. The Bradleys face a world turned upside down, where danger and stupidity lurk behind the remains of a civilization destroyed by a cataclysmic burst of radiation. Even though the series takes place as a post-apocalyptic animated odyssey, Torme insists, "This is a true story ... it just hasn't happened yet."

Saturday, June 12, 1999

Tarzan Premiere on Monday
Disney is premiering Tarzan on Monday for its voice cast, special guests, and press. Special guests expected to attend the premiere in New York include Katie Couric, Judi Dench, Nicole Miller, Martha Stewart, Judy Kuhn, B.D. Wong, Susan Sarandon, Patti Hanson, Lebo M, Lauren Hutton, Hallie Eisenberg, Elle McPherson, Hayden Panetierre, Scarlett Johansson, and Vanessa Williams. Those expected to be in attendance from the film include Tony Goldwyn, Glenn Close, Phil Collins, Wayne Knight, Alex Linz, and Brian Blessed.

Disney is describing the film to press as "Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' immortal adventure classic, Tarzan of the Apes, and energized by the driving rhythm of five great new songs by Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter/drummer Phil Collins, Walt Disney Pictures' new animated feature, Tarzan, takes moviegoers on an imaginative fun-filled jungle excursion unlike any other. Although there have been many previous film versions of the Tarzan story, this is the first full-length animated feature ever to focus on the legendary loinclothed adventurer. Animation allowed the filmmakers to show Tarzan's relationship with his animal family as never before and gave them the ability to have him move as Burroughs had envisioned but as no human actor physically could. Combining humor, breathtaking jungle action and sensational music with powerful emotional themes, the film provides a timeless and contemporary take on the popular tale."

Friday, June 11, 1999

Disney Lawyers Go On The Attack in Katzenberg v. Disney Trial
Disney's lawyers went on the attack yesterday in the Katzenberg versus Disney trial. According to the Daily Variety "Disney COO Sandy Litvack launched into what could be a lengthy cross-examination of expert witness Michael Wolf, spending the afternoon attacking predictions made by his economic model for assessing the value of a disputed 2% bonus...An aggressive questioner who was admonished at times by retired L.A. Superior Court Judge Paul Breckenridge for being argumentative, Litvack hammered at Wolf's predictions, asking him repeatedly whether they were based on facts or 'just your judgment.' He accused Wolf of 'not having the foggiest idea" what the size of the market was for smart rooms.'" The penalty phase of the ttrial will continue today and into next week. In a non-related suprise move, Disney has put a hiring freeze on its entire company. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "All Disney divisions have been instructed not to hire additional personnel, sources said, though departing staffers may be replaced as the need arises."

Tarzan Fan Convention Taking Place in Orange County
A Tarzan Fan Convention is taking place this weekend in Orange County and about the only thing on all their minds is Disney's new animated feature coming out next week.  The group, however, has been granted a sneak preview of the film tonight.

Thursday, June 10, 1999

Request by Judge in Katzenberg Trial Surprises Both Sides
The Daily Variety reports today that "In an unexpected move, retired L.A. Superior Court judge Paul Breckenridge on Wednesday asked for more detail about how expert witness Michael Wolf derived the numbers in his 'bottom up' financial model. Katzenberg's attorney, Bert Fields, then reopened his direct examination of Wolf, who is with the consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton, and led him through a more detailed explanation of how he calculated a $342 million bonus for Katzenberg...the so-called 'bottom up' model analyzes all the ways each film or television product could make money through four release cycles. The $342 million figure is the lowest of three valuations offered by Katzenberg's team." The trial will most likely go into next week before a final ruling, which both parties are bound to, is made. Since Katzenberg has already won the agreement of the judge that he is owed his 2% bonus, the only debate left is how much that 2% bonus is worth.  It may be also speculated that until the trial is completely over, no information will be released from Disney on rerelease projects like Beauty and the Beast, which is one of the Disney movies Katzenberg gains money on with his 2% bonus.

Children Technology Group to Get Advance Screening of Tarzan
The Children's Technology Group Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of San Diego-based 1st Net Technologies, announced today that a special advanced private screening of Walt Disney Pictures' Tarzan will be presented Saturday, June 12, at the GCC Avco theater in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, June 9, 1999

Doug's First Movie Not Coming to DVD
According to The Big Picture, Walt Disney has no plans at this time of releasing Doug's First Movie to DVD. Disney has yet to release any of its 2D animation features to DVD. The good news for DVD owners is that DreamWorks does not follow this same policy.  The Prince of Egypt will hit DVD later this summer with lots of additional features and bonuses.

Katzenberg vs. Disney Trial Update
The penalty phase of the Katzenberg vs. Disney trial continued this week. At dispute is how much money Disney must pay Katzenberg for his 2% bonus clause that Disney disputed in the first phase of the trial (Disney lost that dispute). According to the Daily Variety , yesterday "Focusing on an issue with ramifications throughout the industry, an expert witness in Jeffrey Katzenberg's breach of contract suit against the Walt Disney Co. testified Tuesday that Disney sold television rights to its movies at deep discount prices to its own network, ABC." In other testimony an expert stated that Disney's animated movies "decline in value; that the market is driven by new product; and that Disney faces increased competition in the animation field. He introduced figures showing that with just three exceptions, Disney animated features produced more revenue the second time they were released than the first time."  On Monday, expert witnesses for Katzenberg's explained in detail how they arrived at the a figure of $482 million and $342 million for what Katzenberg is owed. Disney is claiming the bonus is only worth around $100 million.

Tuesday, June 8, 1999

Warner Brothers Begins Work on New Animated Film!
Warner Bros. Feature Animation has begun production on Osmosis Jones, an animated feature-length comedy-adventure set in an entirely new realm -- that of the human body. The announcement was made Monday by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Theatrical Production. Osmosis Jones is written by Marc Hyman, who pitched the original story to Warner Bros. Zak Penn and Dennis Edwards are producing the film, and the directors are Tom Sito and Piet Kroon. Preproduction art is currently being worked on at Warner Bros. Feature Animation headquarters.

In addition, Kids' WB! has ordered 13 episodes of an animated Osmosis Jones television series to be produced by Warner Bros. Television Animation. The series will air following the theatrical release of the film, and was jointly announced by Susanne Daniels, president, Entertainment for The WB, and Jean MacCurdy, president, Warner Bros. Television Animation.

Osmosis Jones is a hip, visually arresting adventure set entirely inside a construction worker named Frank Detomello -- and referred to as The City of Frank. A sarcastic, street-smart white blood cell -- Osmosis -- teams up with a by-the-book rookie cold tablet to fight off an evil virus out to destroy The City of Frank. As Osmosis and his tablet partner zoom through the bloodstream on their make-or-break mission, trying to prove that one cell CAN make a difference, the human body is presented as
an amalgamation of offbeat and broadly funny characters -- an unexpected environment for a totally new kind of buddy picture.

Casting for the voice actors who will bring each character to life is currently underway. Director Tom Sito is a 24-year veteran of animated film production, whose credits include The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Pocahontas at Disney, and The Prince of Egypt, Antz, Shrek and
Paulie at DreamWorks.  Sito also teaches at the University of Southern California, has produced short films, and lectures and writes extensively on animation.

Dutch animation director Piet Kroon has worked in the United States since 1995, on Warner Bros.' features The Quest for Camelot and the highly anticipated Iron Giant . Prior to that, Kroon wrote and directed the award-winning animated shorts T.R.A.N.S.I.T and DaDA, which have been screened extensively at film and animation festivals around the world. T.R.A.N.S.I.T has won six film-festival awards including 1998's Best Animation award from the L.A. Film Critics Association.

Producer Zak Penn most recently served as a story consultant on Antz. He wrote the satire PCU and co-wrote the original screenplay for Last Action Hero. In addition, Penn has worked as an uncredited script doctor on Men In Black, Zorro and many other motion pictures.

Dennis Edwards has written, directed and starred in independent film and live theater productions around the country. Most recently, he has been vice president of Production at Warner Bros. Feature Animation, where his credits include Space Jam and Iron Giant. He began working in animation as an effect animation artist on the ground-breaking special-effects film Tron and continued to work at Disney on films including The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King. Edwards was also a writer on the Oscar-nominated Beauty and the Beast.

Monday, June 7, 1999

Tarzan Getting Rave Reviews - Great Potential
Disney's Tarzan is receiving rave reviews from critics and animation fans alike as the countdown for the film reaches 11 days before it hits theaters. Many are saying that Tarzan could possibly topple Disney's The Lion King as its most successfull film of all time. So what apparently makes this film so good? According to a Hollywood Reporter review, "Tarzan's secret weapon is Collins. His songs are lively, melodic and sure-fire platinum. And for once in animation, songs enhance the action without the characters being awkwardly forced to sing like Broadway musical stars."

Animated "The Banana Splits" Coming to Cartoon Network Online
Flippin' like a pancake, poppin' like a cork, Cartoon Network Online announced today that the 1970s "Saturday Morning" cult-classic The Banana Splits will be revived as a new, interactive "Web Premiere Toon" in the year 2000.

"We have built a cult following for our first two `Web Premiere Toons' `Pink Donkey and the Fly' and `B. Happy' and now look forward to tapping into an existing one with The Banana Splits," said Sam Register, Vice President/Creative Director for Cartoon Network Online.

"We're looking to extend the existing audience for The Splits as well as provide a vehicle to attract a new generation of fans. We will be introducing new environments and stories but will definitely be keeping the retro feel, psychedelic colors, music, and the core of what defines them."

Produced by Hanna Barbera and Sid & Marty Krofft, "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" was originally broadcast on NBC from 1968-1970, recurring throughout the 1970s. Episodes currently air Saturday mornings on Cartoon Network. The live-action variety show featured rock musician characters in fuzzy animal suits -- Fleagle, a beagle; Drooper, a lion; Bingo, a gorilla; and Snorky, an elephant.

The quartet would perform goofy sketch comedy or rock music then introduce serialized cartoon segments. The Banana Splits spawned music albums and toy lines; their infectious theme song, "Tra La La, Tra La La La (Banana Splits)" cracked Billboard's Hot 100.

Currently, the plot for The Banana Splits "Web Premiere Toon" centers around the live-action Banana Splits getting zapped into an interactive, animated universe for their Web adventures.

Cartoon Network Online's first Web Premiere Toons, "Pink Donkey and the Fly" from pop culture icon Gary Panter, and "B. Happy" from renowned underground satirist Mark Newgarden, were launched in February 1999 and drew more than 3.5 million page views in its first month.

Inspired by World Premiere Toons, the popular Cartoon Network pilot program which has resulted in five original series and more than 50 cartoon shorts for the cable network, Cartoon Network Online teams renowned underground cartoonists with hot interactive design talent to define the next wave of online and animated entertainment with Web Premiere Toons.  As each Web Premiere Toon unfolds, users are invited to branch off the narrative at certain intervals, usually for comic effect -- how and why this happens is at the whim of the artist.

Cartoon Network Online can be reached on AOL by typing in the keyword "Cartoon".

Sunday, June 6, 1999

Pokemon - The Jumbo Jet - Coming to San Francisco
All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan's largest passenger airline, will bring a specially painted Boeing 747-400 -- part of its Pokemon family of aircraft -- to San Francisco on July 3. The 232-foot long exterior of the aircraft is painted with characters from Pokemon, the popular Nintendo computer game and television cartoon series. The ANA Pokemon Boeing 747-400 will serve San Francisco five days a week from July 3 on ANA's non-stop service from Tokyo. It is the fourth member of the ANA Pokemon family of aircraft. Three others -- one 747-400 and two Boeing 767-300s -- operate on ANA's extensive route network in Japan.

Upon the jumbo jet's arrival in San Francisco on July 3 at 9:40 a.m., ANA will host 20 Bay Area children and their parents, who will tour the aircraft interior and receive special Pokemon gifts. The aircraft will return to Tokyo at 11:30 a.m.

Pokemon debuted in 1996 as a Nintendo Gameboy computer game in Japan, and soon captured the imagination of children across the nation with its 151 fanciful characters boasting magical powers. In April 1997, Pokemon became a television series in Japan, followed by the U.S. in September 1998, where it has proved as popular as in Japan. ANA first introduced Pokemon to its fleet in July 1998, when three colorfully decorated aircraft began service in Japan.

Saturday, June 5, 1999

Advance Tarzan Tickets at El Capitan Reach $1 Million
Advance ticket sales for Disney's "Tarzan Summer Spectacular" at the El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood's legendary movie palace, have climbed to the $1 million mark with four of the opening weekend shows already sold out, it was announced today by Richard Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group. This box office achievement exceeds comparable advance figures for Disney's last three animated extravaganzas at the El Capitan -- A Bug's Life, Mulan, and Hercules . Additionally, the first three weeks of advance ticket sales for Tarzan have established new records for the El Capitan.

The El Capitan Theatre's "Tarzan Summer Spectacular" engagement will run from June 16-July 22 with daily shows scheduled at 9:00 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and 12:45 a.m. Advance ticket can be purchased by calling 1-800-DISNEY6. Ticket prices range from $11 (for group sales of 20 or more) to $28 (for reserved VIP seating and refreshments). Included in the price of admission is a 20-minutes live stage show as well as pre-show entertainment featuring the theatre's newly installed "mighty" Wurlitzer organ.

Commenting on the announcement, Cook said, "The overwhelming demand for advance tickets at the El Capitan is a great indication of the excitement that is building for our great new animated feature, Tarzan.

Friday, June 4, 1999

Disney Challenges Numbers and Credibility
The Katzenberg versus Disney trial is nearning its completion. On Thursday, Disney cross examined witnesses who estimated that Katzenberg is owed up to $580 million.  According to the Daily Variety, Disney attorneys not only attacked the numbers, but also the credibility of the main Katzenberg witness used in the valuation of how much Katzenberg is owed. The witness, Dennis Soter, is an industry consultant. The entire trail (now in the penalty phase) could conclude next week. A judge will determine how much Disney must pay Katzenberg.

John Cleese Joins Cast of Disney's "Mickey's MouseWorks"
John Cleese, a member of the "Monty Python" comedy troupe and star of the television comedy classic, "Fawlty Towers," has lent his voice as the narrator of four individual cartoon shorts within the popular "Disney's Mickey MouseWorks" animated television series airing Saturdays, Noon ET/11 AM, PT, on ABC. The first of these four cartoons  --  the "Mickey MouseWorks" interpretation of "Around the World in 80 Days"  --  premieres Saturday, June 5.  Cleese also narrates "Mickey's Mechanical House," a "Dr. Seuss"-like poem reciting the mishaps of inhabiting a fully-mechanized dwelling, and all three "Mouse Tales" shorts created for the series' first two seasons:  "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Nutcracker" and the aforementioned "80 Days."

Produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, "Mickey MouseWorks" is comprised of cartoon shorts of varying length.  The 12-minute "Mouse Tales" are light-hearted retellings of the "classics" of literature, stage and screen by Mickey and the gang.

Thursday, June 3, 1999

Katzenberg Trial Update
On Wednesday, the money phase of the Katzenberg versus Disney trial continued with a lawyer from Disney calling the $580 million Katzenberg's team claim is owed to him a "throw-away" number and that Katzenberg was being "silly", according to Reuters.  The Daily Variety reports that "Earlier in the day, Disney general counsel Lou Meisinger wrapped up his opening statement: 'Disney is not saying that the sky is falling on its business just to get a low number from the court. We're not saying the sky is falling at all. On the other hand, Mr. Katzenberg's approach is the sky is the limit,' Meisinger said." Disney is claiming that it only owes Katzenberg just over $100 million and has been painting a "gloomy" picture of its future, without trying to upset stockholders, according to yesterday's Daily Variety. The trial continues today with cross examinations by Disney lawyers on the methods used to get the $580 million figure.

FOX Accused of Double Standards Over "Simpsons" Episode
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that some people, including the executive producer of "The Simpsons" are accusing FOX of double standards. This comes, according to the LA Times (June 2, 1999), after the executive producer learned, "that FOX wants Catholics treated differently than other religious faiths when designated as punch lines by the show writers. The accusations came after the executive producer said that FOX to him to delete a reference to Catholicism in one of the show's jokes. LA Times columnist Howard Rosenberg claims that FOX caved in to an organized protest by The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Wednesday, June 2, 1999

Cartoon Seizure Cause Determined
Science Daily Magazine is reporting that a Japanese cartoon is triggering a new type of epilepsy. According to an article titled "Color Changes in TV Cartoons Cause Seizures," the first major case of the seizures happened in Japan in 1997 when the cartoon "Pocket Monsters" caused 685 people (mostly children) to have seizures at the same time. The research article states that "Japanese researchers have now found evidence that the seizures were provoked by rapid changes of blue and red in the background of the cartoons.

Flickering lights such as strobe lights or even the images on a television or video screen are well known as triggers for epileptic seizures. Patients who experience such seizures are said to suffer from photosensitive epilepsy. Rapid light/dark changes or alternating high-contrast patterns cause nerve cells in the brain to fire electrical impulses more rapidly than usual. In people with photosensitive epilepsy, the resulting 'electrical storm' in the brain can lead to muscular convulsions or loss of consciousness... These results, combined with a report last year of color-induced seizures in Great Britain, led the Japanese team to propose a new subcategory of photosensitive epilepsy called chromatic sensitive epilepsy." The article was based on a study and report by the American Neurological Association.

Disney Paints Gloomy Picture of Profits in Katzenberg Trial
Walt Disney owes Jeffrey Katzenberg a lot of money according to the first two phases of the Katzenberg versus Disney trial.  Now the focus of the trial is on exactly how much.  Katzenberg's attorneys say $580 million. But yesterday, during the trial, Disney attorneys tried to paint a gloomy picture of profits to bring the number down closer to $100 million and stating that Katzenberg has already been paid that amount.

According to Daily Variety, "taking care not to describe a future so gloomy that it will send Disney shareholders scurrying for their brokers, Meisinger explained, 'Disney's future is bright because of new product and new markets, not the recycling of old product,' namely the animated films made during Katzenberg's reign at Disney. Opening arguments from both sides took the entire day before retired Superior Court Judge Paul Breckenridge, who will decide how much income is likely to be derived from products made during Katzenberg's decade-long tenure as head of Disney's filmmaking operations."

Tuesday, June 1, 1999

Tweety Bird Collections Coming to Home Video
"Tweet and Lovely" and "Home Tweet Home" — two new 70-minute video collections of the best cartoons from the world's most popular Looney Tunes character — will debut June 22nd from Warner Home Video. Half of these classic cartoons have never been available on video. "Tweet and Lovely" and "Home Tweet Home" are the first two titles under Warner Home Video's new banner, Looney Tunes Presents, and represent a new generation of character-focused videos. They will feature a completely updated look, with eye-popping cover art and "Tweety-colored" collectible packaging. Each video will come packaged with an exclusive free Tweety picture frame.

Tweety is the most popular of any of the Looney Tunes characters, among both adults and children age 3-11, especially with girls, who love his cute innocence and superiority over his arch nemesis, Sylvester the cat. On television, he stars in four of the top-rated children's programs — The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries on Kids' WB! and The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, as well as part of "The Acme Hour" on the Cartoon Network and in classic Looney Tunes airing on ABC. The two shows reach more than three million kids each weekend.

"Tweet and Lovely" and "Home Tweet Home" will be the first Warner Home Video product to participate in Warner Bros.' Corporate wide promotion, "Mil-LOONEY-Um," an irreverent spin by Looney Tunes characters on the year 2000 countdown. Guided by Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the domestic campaign includes cross promotions between Warner divisions (Consumer Products, Publishing, Retail Stores, Television and others) and products from such companies as Act II, Bestfoods, First USA, Kraft, Mott's, Skippy and Smuckers.

Tweety made his debut in the Merrie Melodies short, "A Tale of Two Kitties," as a bird named Orson who exclaims "I tawt I taw a puddy tat!" The next two Tweety shorts, "Birdy and the Beast" and "A Gruesome Twosome," established the bird's peculiar yet appealing personality: a sweet innocent nature coupled with a willingness to resort to fairly brutal actions to defend himself against the most dangerous forces of the world -- CATS! Later, Tweety paired with Sylvester the cat in "Tweety Pie." Under the direction of legendary animation director Friz Freleng, the animated actors became an instant hit and the short went on to win an Academy Award(R), the first ever for a Warner Bros. cartoon.


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