Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Few More Weekend Animation Links

Whoops. There goes a tie-in:

A children's advocacy group wants the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to remove Shrek, the animated ogre, from his role as spokesman for an anti-obesity drive.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood says the upcoming film Shrek the Third has too many promotional ties with unhealthy foods to justify using Shrek as a health advocate.

"There is an inherent conflict of interest between marketing junk food and promoting public health," Susan Linn, the national group's director, wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt.

"Surely Health and Human Services can find a better spokesperson for healthy living than a character who is a walking advertisement for McDonald's, sugary cereals, cookies and candy," said Linn.

So is the CCFC saying the big green ogre's obesity campaign is like Don Imus fronting "Black history month"? If so, it hardly seems fair. Shrek is a cartoon, after all.

Since we're on Shrek, over at Rotten Tomatoes, Antonio Banderas discusses the cornucopia of Shrek features to come:

Banderas told Coming Soon, his own character Puss will eventually get his own starring vehicle: "Now in between 4 and 5, Puss is going to have his own movie. It's going to be called "Puss In Boots: The Story of an Ogre Killer." I don't know if you realize but Donkey doesn't have a movie, himself. [Laughs]. And that will be it, from what Jeffery Katzenberg is communicating to us, but I don't know, if the character -- probably some place in the future they may take the character and do it again, and things like that -- but so far, there were going to be four, but they discovered the novel game [sic] them the opportunity to do five."

One day, no doubt, there will be more Shrek movies than there are James Bond films.

New cgi 'toon studio Animation Lab is ramping up its first feature:

New Israeli toon studio Animation Lab has greenlit its first feature, "The Wild Bunch."

Script by "Mulan" and "Pocahontas" writer Philip LaZebnik centers on a group of genetically modified cornstalks who attack a group of common wildflowers.

CGI toon will be directed by Alex Williams, an industry vet who has worked on animated features including "Open Season," "Robots" and "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas." "Wild Bunch" will be his debut as a director.

The ever-popular Annecy film festival (nestled in the French Alps) has a big line-up this year:

Feature films will be in the spotlight when the 2007 Annecy International Animation Festival kicks off its 31st edition, organizers said Tuesday.

Initiatives to promote the full-length cartoon medium at the fest, which runs June 1-16, include a greater number of feature films in competition, new special distinction and audience awards, daily meetings for film executives and the addition of an out-of-competition category within the "official selection."

After sorting through a record 1,882 entries, the fest's selection committee has chosen 233 films from 35 countries -- 182 of which are part of the official competition, which includes nine feature films, 51 shorts, 43 telefilms, 28 publicity clips and 51 student films.

The Orlando Sentinental (the paper in the Disney Company's Florida backyard) gets a trifle snarky about Ratatouille:

Maybe this tale of a French rat with a taste for the finer things will be amazing, but I have to say, the trailers haven't been promising. The voices (The lead especially, comic-turned-actor Patton Oswalt? Sounds like Paul Giamatti. A cut-rate Paul Giamatti) don't do it.

And Fox-News Corp. is getting serious (a decade later) about this "synergy" thing. In addition to toys, games, the tv show and now a forthcoming film, trade papers and other news organizations report that Homer, Bart, et al will shortly be a ride at Universal Theme Parks:

Orlando, FL and Universal City, CA — “Woo Hoo!” Universal’s theme parks add animated fun and excitement to their roster as FOX’s blockbuster hit series, The Simpsons, becomes the inspiration for the world’s most highly anticipated new theme park ride.

The Associated Press publishes an overview of the stampede of sequels and "tent poles" that will be charging our way in the coming weeks and months:

The animation masters at Pixar, whose films include "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo," were immediately hooked when a colleague came up with the idea for "Ratatouille," about a rat who dreams of being a chef in a fine French restaurant, where the discovery of a rodent would spell business disaster.

"If a rat is death to a gourmet restaurant, and a gourmet restaurant is death to a rat, it automatically creates the kind of enormous obstacles that movies thrive on," said "Ratatouille" director Brad Bird, who won an Academy Award for Pixar's "The Incredibles."

Bird chuckled over the irony that a rat would be one of the summer standard-bearers for Disney, home of Mickey Mouse.

Have a splendiferous weekend.


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