Sunday, October 31, 2010

News Flash!

From the Daily Telegraph:

An academic study of characters in Disney's animated movies has concluded that the heroes and heroines tend to be better-looking, and cleverer, than the bad guys.

This is totally the reverse of live-action films, where the villains are handsome and witty and the heroes are ugly, stupid and usually toothless.

I'm surprised more people haven't pointed this out before now.

Click here to read entire post

Animated Features Back on Top

In foreign countries right now, animation is king. The Hollywood Reporter tells us so:

School holidays helped animated hit get its second wind; 'Megamind' debuts No. 1 in Russia and Ukraine a week before its U.S. bow.

Family-oriented animation trumped horror on the foreign circuit over the Halloween weekend as Despicable Me reclaimed the No. 1 box office spot, snaring $22.8 million from 4,850 venues in 47 markets and pushing its offshore gross total to $235.4 million. ... Megamind premiered No. 1 in [Russia and the Ukraine] for a total of $7.3 million from 712 locales. ...

And "Mega" and "Despicable" weren't the only animated features that did well.

... No. 2 in France ... was producer-director Luc Besson's Arthur 3: La Guerre des Deux Mondes (Arthur 3: The War of Two Worlds), an English-language animation title which grossed an estimated $8.2 million in its third weekend at 778 situations -- an increase of 120%.

There is a theme going on here, I think. Animation continues to prosper around the world.

Click here to read entire post

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nickelodeon on a Roll

The New York Times reports how cable-network Nickelodeon is getting more traction these days.

... For the first time in years, Nickelodeon has heat. Ratings are up across the board, powered by buzzy new live-action hits like “Victorious,” ... and “iCarly.” ... A new animated program, “The Penguins of Madagascar,” is a solid success. Even the decade-old “Dora the Explorer” has perked up ...

It's always good when Nick's (or Disney's, or Warner's') animated shows do well, because I understand that we are not too involved with the live-action stuff.

Click here to read entire post

Halloween Box Office

The owls glide out of BoxOffice Mojo's Top Ten as horror/after-life features dominate. ...

Deadline Hollywood Daily has "The Guardians" hanging to the tenth spot.)

1. Saw VII 3D (Lionsgate) NEW [2,808 Theaters] -- Friday $11M, Estimated Weekend $28M)

2. Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount) Week 2 [3,239 Theaters] -- Friday $6.4M (-68%), Estimated Weekend $18.5M, Estimated Cume $67.5M

3. Red (Summit) Week 4 [3,349 Theaters] -- Friday $3.4M, Estimated Weekend $9.5M, Estimated Cume $57.7M

4. Jackass 3D (Paramount) Week 3 [3,139 Theaters] -- Friday $3M, Estimated Weekend $8.7M, Estimated Cume $102M

5. Hereafter (Warner Bros) Week 3 [2,424 Theaters] -- Friday $2M, Estimated Weekend $6M, Estimated Cume $21.8M

6. The Social Network (Sony) Week 5 [2,767 Theaters] -- Friday $1.5M, Estimated Weekend $5M, Estimated Cume $80M

7. Secretariat (Disney) Week 4 [3,108 Theaters] -- Friday $1.5M, Estimated Cume $4.9M, Estimated Cume $44.7M

8. Life As We Know It (Warner Bros) Week 4 [2,860 Theaters] -- Friday $1.4M, Estimated Weekend $4.5M, Estimated Cume $44.2M

9. The Town (Warner Bros) Week 7 [1,608 Theaters] -- Friday $600K, Estimated Weekend $2M, Estimated Cume $87.5M

10. Legends Of The Guardians (Warner Bros) Week 6 [2,010 Theaters] -- Friday $550K, Estimated Weekend $2M, Estimated Cume $52.8M

Six days from now, "Megamind" makes its debut.

Update: The weekend finals have "The Guardians" at #11 (and a $52.6 million total.)

Downlist, "Alpha and Omega" stands at #17 and a $24.1 million total; "Toy Story 3" is still in 337 theatres collects $319,000 for a $413.9 million. And "Despicable Me" collects $245,000 in 335 theatres for a $247,845,000 take.

Animation marches on.

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Candidate statement: Janette Hulett

Candidate for Executive Board; incumbent

I was born into a strong union household. My father was a union activist, a charter member of Local 839, our first sergeant-at-arms, later vice president and lastly president. I am happy to carry on his tradition and fighting spirit.

Having been on the executive board for three terms, I feel there is much more I can accomplish. Currently, I am on the guild’s website committee. We are working with a website design company to completely redesign and update the guild’s web presence. The new website will be terrific when it is launched.

If re-elected, I will proudly service.

Here is the candidate slate for the 2010 election.
Here are the candidate statements posted to date.
Click here to read entire post

Friday, October 29, 2010

Animated Oscar Race

Deadline Hollywood Daily reports on the Oscar race now developing for animated features.

... [A] letter [from the Academy] was sent late last week 14 entries had been received but that it was still possible to reach 16, the magic number needed to expand the category.... [W]hether it turns out to be 3 or 5 nominees this year in the animated feature race and with 10 nominees for Best Picture, Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks are looking to take their battle of the ‘toons to an even bigger stage than ever. ... [T]wo perceived front runners are also waging visible -- and viable -- campaigns for Best Picture too. ...

Animated features are a bigger part of the feature marketplace than ever before. You would think that this would translate into more and bigger awards. But does anybody believe that "Toy Story 3" or "How to Train Your Dragon" will be winning "Best Picture" Oscars in 2010?

Click here to read entire post

Jeff Gatrall show opens November 5 @ Gallery 839

NOTE: The reception will be open until 11 pm; if you're planning to go to the Pres Romanillos memorial on the Disney lot, stop by and see the show afterward.

Click here to read entire post

Thursday, October 28, 2010

2011 401(k) Caps

For everybody in a 401(k) Plan (or planning to get into one), the IRS has announced new deferral caps:

* The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in section 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $16,500.

* The catch-up contribution limit under those plans for those aged 50 and over remains unchanged at $5,500. ...

The above isn't too surprising, since inflation has not been a factor in the last year or two. But now everybody can make their deferral plans down to the dollar.

Click here to read entire post

Happy International Animation Day!

Today is the 9th International Animation Day as proclaimed by ASIFA International, the main branch of the group whose Hollywood chapter runs the Annie Awards.

Above is the Official Animation, as done by Australian animator Simon Streatfeild; below is the Official Poster by Belgian animator Raoul Servais.

International Animation Day poster
Click the thumbnail for a full-size image
Click here to read entire post

Candidate statement: Steve Hulett

Candidate for Business Representative; incumbent

When you first elected me as your business representative, the animation industry faced major challenges. Employment was down, technologies were changing, and the Animation Guild had 700 active members.

Back then, I promised members I would work energetically to improve communication, expand services, and make this organization as transparent and “user friendly” as possible. In the time since, the Animation Guild has:

  • Constructed a new building closer to major studios, with more floor space and parking.

  • Expanded our industry training, with a new computer lab and larger cg training library.

  • Instituted a 401(k) Plan to supplement the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan. (This supplemental plan now has $128.7 million in assets with 1600 participants.)

  • Instituted weekly orientation meetings to familiarize new members with the industry, the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan, and the Animation Guild.

  • Increased member out-reach with a daily web log, daily studio visits by the guild business representative, on-line dues payment options and expanded e-mail communication.

  • Hired a full-time labor organizer.

Though we’ve quadrupled membership, your guild remains one of the most cost-efficient of any local union in the IATSE. And though studios are more aggressive than ever, and contract negotiations tougher, I am enthusiastic about TAG and its future. If re-elected, I will use all my experience and energies to increase work opportunities, expand member outreach, and make the next three years the best that the Animation Guild has had in its fifty-eight year history.

Here is the candidate slate for the 2010 election.
Here are the candidate statements posted to date.
Click here to read entire post

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mid-Week Links

The halfway point of the workweek, so here's some newer linkage.

This might be another reason DreamWorks Animation overshot its profit estimates.

The DreamWorks Animation hit "How To Train Your Dragon" topped the national home video sales charts for a second consecutive week on Wednesday, and was also the No. 1 renter in its first full week in stores. ...

Warner Bros. plans to mine its cartoon library in new and exciting ways.

Warner Bros. is intent on reestablishing the Looney Tunes brand in the marketplace. These efforts include theatrical shorts, a show on Cartoon Network, a live-action/CGI Bugs Bunny movie, and a seemingly ill-advised Mike Myers-voiced Pepé Le Pew film. The latest project is also the most tangential, in that borrows from the Looney Tunes universe without featuring any of the, you know, characters. ... recalls the beginnings of Cartoon Network way back in the early nineties:

Before Cartoon Network was launched in 1994 ... it had formed an advisory board ... which featured some of the luminaries in the cartoon industry including producers like William Hanna and Joseph Barbera to work out what makes good cartoon. ...

"They figured that the best way to make their cartoons was to make shorts. In the past, they were making these seven-minute shorts and you could test characters, figure out if they play well and check the audience’s reaction." ...

Speaking of DreamWorks, Jarett Wieselman of the New York Post shares his opinion and video clips for DWA's next feature release:

Animated movies that don't include the words "from Disney/Pixar" tend to leave me cold -- no one else seems capable of replicating their ability to mesh jokes for every age with a story for every age. But Paramount seems to have cracked the code with next month's "Megamind."

It's not only DreamWorks Animation stock that is going up.

Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) closed yesterday at $35.96. So far the stock has hit a 52-week low of $27.01 and 52-week high of $37.98. Walt Disney stock has been showing support around 34.66 and resistance in the 36.62 range. Technical indicators for the stock are Bullish and S&P gives DIS a positive 4 STAR (out of 5) buy rating. ...

Fox has hired James Cameron to make more animated movies with tall blue people.

James Cameron has committed to making two sequels to his record-breaking 3D epic "Avatar" for Fox. The movies are scheduled for release in late 2014 and 2015, which means he won't direct other features for the next three or four years. ...

Click here to read entire post

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

DreamWorks Animation Surges

Jeffrey Katzenberg's place outperformed analysts' forecasts, and makes a good bit of money.

"Shrek Forever After" gave DreamWorks Animation an ogre-sized boost in the third quarter.

The animation studio's earnings per share surged to 47 cents, compared with the 35 cents analysts were expecting and the 23 cents per diluted share in the year-ago period. ...

The next question for DWA: How does "MegaMind" do on November 5th, 6th and 7th? And how does "Mega" do overseas?

I guess we'll see.

Click here to read entire post

Vancouver Local 891 calls for all local VFX Aritsts

Our Brothers and Sisters in Vancouver have set the bar for public outreach to the visual effects artists of their jurisdiction. Local 891 has launched its education and outreach program for the visual effects artists in the British Columbia province.

Local 891 has a proud history of representing the entertainment professionals of the BC province for 48 years. As they state on their website:

With its charter established in 1962 IATSE Local 891 has grown to represent over 5000 members in 22 departments. IATSE Local 891 represents a diverse group of talented, experienced, safe, and award winning artisans, technicians, and craftspeople throughout British Columbia and the Yukon.

IATSE Local 891 technicians deliver professional results to productions at all budgetary levels, and have helped to develop BC into the third largest production center in North America.

We applaud their remarkable efforts at bringing the strength of organization and a seamless cloak of benefits to the hard working and highly regarded artists of their region. We also look forward to matching their impressive efforts here in Los Angeles.

Click here to read entire post

Candidate statement: Karen Carnegie Johnson

Candidate for Executive Board; incumbent

Hello animation community!  I’ve worked at MTV, Sony, Disney, and Film Roman, where I’m currently a Retake Director on The Simpsons. In my first term on the Executive Board I supported the completion of our new building and better computers for its lab, planned the TV Development panel and the "Beyond Yellow" gallery show, served on the search committee that hired our new organizer, and spurred our current efforts to overhaul the website, and more. If re-elected, I'll continue to work to listen and to improve the services the Guild provides to its members, with active participation and thoughtful decisions.

Here is the candidate slate for the 2010 election.
Here are the candidate statements posted to date.
Click here to read entire post

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Technicolor employees speak

Last month, Steve Kaplan posted about the rally for employees of Technicolor Glendale who are seeking to be represented by the Editors Guild IATSE Local 700. The representation vote is coming up on Wednesday, and above is a flyer with the opinions of some of the union supporters at the facility (click on the version above to see a larger version.)

Click here to read entire post

More Union Bashing ..

I recently posted about the happenings in New Zealand with regards to the up-coming filming of The Hobbit. To say feelings were strong on both side of the discussion would be an understatement. In most blogs, posts and comments on that subject, there were some pretty strong anti-union feelings.

That seems to have spilled over into some bad press against our brothers and sisters of IATSE Local 33 here in Los Angeles. As reported by KTLA, a stagehand and member of Local 33 was sent home from USC campus where he was helping set up the rally that President Obama was going to attend. He was told that his attire was inappropriate because of the word "BUSH" that was printed large on his sweatshirt and hat. After being asked to remove his hat, which he did, he was also asked to turn his sweatshirt inside-out which he refused to do.

If you have been exposed to any news reports on this, you may have noticed that the paragraph above wasn't exactly what you previously heard. I didn't mention anything about the stagehand being "fired" by the big-mean "union". There's a reason for that ... it's a lie. In fact, there are quite a few bits of misinformation in the story that was reported. The stagehands version of the story kept to the facts, but loosely enough to give room for some strong anti-union sentiment to be interjected. What may be of interest would be this post I came across. Its written by someone with knowledge of the stagehand profession and its intricacies. It shines a bit of light through the vitriol and rhetoric that has been espoused over this matter.

I asked in a previous post who benefits from putting unions in a bad light? When did it become chic to try to take away unalienable benefits like contractual protections from the working class?

I suppose the answer lies in the pursuit of the all-mighty dollar and every other dollar just like it. One thing that will never change is the need to protect those who do the work from the efforts to maximize profits by those who manage the work. Our union, as with unions as a whole, are rooted in the effort of keeping that pursuit from stamping across and breaking the backs of the employees that enable those businesses to thrive.

Click here to read entire post

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Family Guy's" Boorstein in New Fox Deal

Nikki Finke tells the story:

20th Century Fox TV has big plans for Alex Borstein, who voices Lois on the studio's hit animated comedy Family Guy. The actress-writer has signed a deal with the studio to develop two comedy projects ... one animated and one live-action. ...

Fox, unlike some other networks, appears to be determined to develop more animated half-hours. That seems like a fine idea.

Click here to read entire post

"Despicable Me" Marches On

"DM" continues to do well in overseas markets.

... After 16 weeks of overseas playtime, the family-oriented 3D animation title ["Despicable Me"] ... has grossed a total of $198.1 million.

Universal -- which reported its 2010 international box office total exceeded $1 billion on Sunday -- said it expects Despicable to surpass the $200 million offshore gross mark on Monday.

Every large entertainment company has now had at least one sizable animated hit. And several of them have had many more.

This will probably mean that additional animated features will be made.

Click here to read entire post


... the sincerest form of flattery.

The creators of “South Park,” the animated Comedy Central series, apologized on Friday to the creators of a Web comedy video satirizing the summer blockbuster “Inception,” saying that they had used dialogue from a video on the Web site

“It’s just because we do the show in six days, and we’re stupid and we just threw it together,” Matt Stone, who created “South Park” with Trey Parker, said Friday in a telephone interview. “But in the end, there are some lines that we had to call and apologize for.” ...

Hey. It could happen to anybody. Even people who aren't millionaires.

Click here to read entire post

The Forty Hour Work-Week

As President Emeritus Tom Sito notes, today is the 70th anniversary of the 40-hour work-week.

Oct 24th, 1938-The Fair Labor Standards Act established the 40 hour workweek as the law of the land. Despite this, Animation Studios kept to a 46 hour workweek until 1941. ...

The FLSA has been stretched and twisted many times since it was passed into law. But here is how it got started:

On Saturday, June 25, 1938, to avoid pocket vetoes 9 days after Congress had adjourned, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed ... a landmark law in the Nation's social and economic development -- Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA).

Against a history of judicial opposition, the depression-born FLSA had survived, not unscathed, more than a year of Congressional altercation. In its final form, the act applied to industries whose combined employment represented only about one-fifth of the labor force. In these industries, it banned oppressive child labor and set the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents, and the maximum workweek at 44 hours. ...

And here is a handy chart that shows the effect of the minimum wage over the last seventy years. (You will observe that although the nominal minimum wage is up, it is below the purchasing power attained back in 1950.)

Click here to read entire post

Candidate statement: Eugene Son

Candidate for Executive Board

For the past three years, a friend of mine has served on the Executive Board. Whenever I had a question or idea, I could ring him up and be heard. It was informative and empowering.

And I felt like I had a voice in my union.

I don't know if everyone can have a friend on the Board, but I know everyone can have a VOICE on the Board. I'm available to you at tag AT I want to hear from you.

With your help, I hope to bring your questions, concerns, ideas - your voice - to the Board. Thank you.

Here is the candidate slate for the 2010 election. Here are the candidate statements posted to date.
Click here to read entire post

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Alex Anderson, RIP

Time Magazine salutes the little-known creator of Rags the Tiger, Crusader Rabbit, Rocky and Bullwinkle among others.

Animation has had plenty of unknown geniuses ... but few were more obscure, or more important, than Alexander Anderson, who died Friday at 90 in Carmel, Cal. ... Without Alex Anderson there would be no Rocky, no Bullwinkle, no Rocky and Bullwinkle. And 50 years' worth of precocious kids would have missed some of the best afternoons of their lives.

Alex Anderson was the inventor of the hip and funny television cartoon. Without Mr. Anderson, there might not ever have been Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, and the rest of the 21st century animated television shows aimed at adults.

Click here to read entire post

Weekend Box Office

Now with update.

As the release date for "MegaMind" approaches, the animated owls continue in the Top Ten.

1. Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount) NEW [3,216 Theaters] -- Friday $20M, Estimated Weekend $40M

2. Jackass 3D (Paramount) Week 2 [3,111 Theaters] -- Friday $7.6M (-65%), Estimated Weekend $23.7M, Estimated Cume $90M

3. Red (Summit) Week 2 [3,273 Theaters] -- Friday $4.5M (-37%), Estimated Weekend $14.5M, Estimated Cume $43M

4. Hereafter (Warner Bros) Week 2 [2,181 Theaters] -- Friday $4.1M, Estimated Weekend $11.5M

5. The Social Network (Sony) Week 4 [2,921 Theaters -- Friday $2.2M, Estimated Weekend $7M, Estimated Cume $72.6M

6. Life As We Know It (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,019 Theaters] -- Friday $2M, Estimated Weekend $6M, Estimated Cume $37.5M

7. Secretariat (Disney) Week 3 [3,108 Theaters] -- Friday $1.9M, Estimated Weekend $6.5M, Estimated Cume $37M

8. The Town (Warner Bros) Week 6 [1,918 Theaters] -- Friday $820K, Estimated Weekend $2.5M, Estimated Cume $84.4M

9. Legends Of The Guardians (Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,236 Theaters] -- Friday $775K, Estimated Weekend $3M, Estimated Cume $50M

10. Easy A #(Sony) Week 6 [1,632 Theaters] -- Friday $565K, Estimated Weekend $1.8M, Estimated Cume $54.8M

On the 30th and 31st days of release, "Guardians" will crack $50 million. No doubt Warners was hoping for more ...

Sunday Update: The weekend's final tally:

The owls end up at $50,172,000, dropping less (24.9%) than any other feature in the Top Ten.

"Alpha and Omega" is at #14 with a $23,486,000 total.

"Toy Story 3" is at #20 with $413,450,000.

And "Despicable Me is at #22 with $247,512,000.

Click here to read entire post

Friday, October 22, 2010

DreamWorks Animation's Performance

The AP and others project DWA's financial performance (due out next week):

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. ... reports its third-quarter earnings after the market closes on Tuesday. ... $500 million in international box office receipts for ["Shrek Forever After"] may boost results, according to Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. ...

"How to Train Your Dragon" came out in the home video market in mid-October and was the top purchase in the U.S. in the week of its release ... Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast a profit of 35 cents per share on revenue of $163 million. DreamWorks has said 2010 will be its best year ever ...

"MegaMind" gets a wide release on November 5th, two weeks ahead of the newest "Harry Potter" and three weeks ahead of "Tangled." If "Mega" has a big opening weekend, that will give DWA bragging rights to three animated hits inside of a year.

Click here to read entire post

What is your favorite Disney animated feature?

For the record, mine is Bambi. But everyone's entitled to their opinion:

Everyone has their personal favorite Disney movie, and you can make an argument for most of the classics as being “the best.”

But the opinion of Diane Disney-Miller, the eldest daughter of Walt Disney, probably carries a bit more weight than others, and when asked where the 1940 Fantasia ranks, she didn’t hesitate: “It’s got to be tops.”

“Because of everything involved, the music, the effects, the animation,” she said Oct. 20 at The Walt Disney Family Museum, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month. “I think it has to be at the pinnacle.”

Looking at the home video treatment by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, you know the studio also realizes how special this film is: The Nov. 30 four-disc Blu-ray Disc combo pack ($45.99) includes both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 on DVD, the seven-minute, Oscar-nominated short Destino (a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali), all-new documentaries, commentaries, interactive art galleries and screen savers, BD Live features and more.

“It’s a great package,” Disney-Miller said. “It is really timeless, and it was made well enough to stand the test of time.”

Click here to read entire post

Candidate statement: Jack Thomas

Candidate for Executive Board

My Candidate Statement in 99 words.
Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. Residuals. And I like puppies.

Here is the candidate slate for the 2010 election.
Here are the candidate statements posted to date.
Click here to read entire post

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Struggle Continues in New Zealand - Greed Wins

The Hobbit, prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, seems to be on its own trek of destiny. As we commented in an earlier post, the New Zealand Actors Equity, supported by SAG, AFTRA and other international labor organizations, was holding its actors back from working on Jackson's latest cinematic venture into the classic tale.

Actors Equity, backed by the International Federation of Actors, was protesting the fact that this big-budget film, that was going to be employing internationally famous as well as local talent, was planning to do so without the protection and comfort of an Equity contract.

As was stated in a previous post, we are consummate supporters of laborers using whatever leverage available to them to achieve better conditions and contracts. In this Organizer's eyes, its difficult to understand or believe the claims made by Sir Peter Jackson that New Zealand is going to suffer irreparable harm and loss of Hollywood income now that the world knows New Zealand actors want the same contractual protections as their counterparts across the globe.

Helen Kelly, the president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, has been quoted as saying that talks had been progressing well and Sir Jackson's interests were less than altruistic:

CTU president Helen Kelly [called] the publicity a "no holds barred fight for public opinion" and Sir Peter a "spoiled brat" who had blocked talks with the union.

"We were making progress. Why would he stop it? He's trying to maximise his reputation against the reputation of performers."

According to Sir Peter, Warner Brothers is sending executives to New Zealand to make arrangements to move the production out of the country. That claim has been questioned in this article of the New Zealand Herald:

Prime Minister John Key and Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee will meet Warner Bros executives next week in a bid to keep the $670 million production here.

[Finance Minister Bill English] said it was possible Warner Bros was using the industrial dispute to push an agenda for more tax breaks, which are estimated to be worth $50 million to $60 million.


NZ Actors Equity president Jennifer Ward-Lealand said the union had given an unequivocal guarantee that there were no union barriers to The Hobbit.

"We find [the idea that the production is leaving New Zealand] perplexing when we know that flights for overseas actors are already being booked to New Zealand, and their contracts have the filming clearly located here. The production office is already issuing contracts to New Zealand performers and crew."

What I find most amazing, and unfortunate, are the actions of the artists of Weta Digital. This article explains that the artists, who feared losing their jobs if the production left the country, marched in solidarity against collective action and in protest of an Actors Equity meeting that was to take place. The events of that day as well as opinion of the matter are chronicled in this blog of a Weta Digital artist.

As a venerable and wise mentor of my young Organizer career constantly reminds me, groups of people will be motivated to action when the right set of circumstances are met. Once a tipping point of resilience has been crossed, people will begin to realize where their best interests lie. I can only hope that the artists of Weta Digital are as quick to realize that the strength of their collective action can work in their favor in more than just this way.

Click here to read entire post

Alma, Blaas's calling card

As part of his deal with DreamWorks Animation, Guillermo Del Toro will produce a feature version of Rodrigo Blaas’s award-winning short Alma.

Blaas made the short on his own time while he was working as an animator at Pixar. He will direct the feature version of Alma, and will also co-direct the Trollhunters feature with Del Toro.

Click here to read entire post

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Organizing Visual Effects

We've gotten questions (as indicated in the thread below) about organizing visual effects people. To clear a few things up:

1) The IBEW is a late comer to this game. TAG and the IA have organized and repped visual effects employees for decades*.

2) TAG and the IA are working to organize visual effects employees now.

3) TAG and the IA will be organizing visual effects employees tomorrow.

As one of TAG's members remarked:

As a working VFX artist, I worked at a facility that had a contract with TAG. I was extremely happy with the benefits and openly talk about them on my blog.

Might we also mention, that our dues come to about $33/month. So the seamless cloak of benefits is pretty inexpensive.. (Like the IBEW, we waive initiation fees for employees of newly organized studios.)

* TAG was repping visual effects work as far back as the early 1950s, when Animation Guild members created the animated visual effects for "Forbidden Planet."

Click here to read entire post

Candidate statement: Nathan Loofbourrow

Candidate for Executive Board

I welcome the opportunity to run again for the Executive Board, after my first term in 2004-2007. I am running to serve both CG artists and traditional artists in animation. Our union has the potential to serve artists in theatrical entertainment, television, video games and the web. In this economy, our benefits play a critical role in providing continuity for artists whose jobs are insecure. I will gladly volunteer to protect and extend those benefits to all artists who ask the union to serve them in our industry. My thanks to my colleagues at DreamWorks Animation for their support.

Here is the 2010 candidate slate.
Here are the candidate statements posted to date.
Click here to read entire post

Homer Simpson "is a true Catholic"

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has endorsed The Simpsons:

L'Osservatore Romano said 'The Simpsons are among the few TV programmes for children in which Christian faith, religion, and questions about God are recurrent themes."

The long-running cartoon series explores issues such as family, community, education and religion in a way that few other popular television programmes can match, according to L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's daily broadsheet.

[...] In an article headlined "Homer and Bart are Catholics", the newspaper said: "The Simpsons are among the few TV programmes for children in which Christian faith, religion, and questions about God are recurrent themes."

The family "recites prayers before meals and, in their own peculiar way, believes in the life thereafter".

Click here to read entire post

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Links of Mid-October

One more round of mid-week linkage. The A.V. Club's story is that Fox want to corner the market on television animation.

Fox’s Animation Domination has entered some sort of giantess fetish phase, with the network now seemingly intent on crushing every other channel’s cartoon lineup, either actual or prospective. Now Vulture reports that two new animated shows have been added to the recently acquired, similarly in-development Napoleon Dynamite and the Jonah Hill-starring Allen Gregory. Oh, did you want an animated show, pitiful other network? Well, Fox says no. ...

Slate Magazine runs yet another article on Disney's mid-eighties feature, asking:

Is the movie that almost killed Disney animation really that bad? ...

NPR gives us its "Toy Story 3" profile:

... [T]he initial idea for the toys accidentally winding up at Sunnyside, came from a mistake [director Lee Unkrich] made during a move: He accidentally threw out all of his wife's childhood toys. ...

On the subject of Disney, "Mars Needs Moms" gets a poster as it loses a studio.

Award time overseas:

Italian animated film wins Anim'est award in Bucharest.

Italian short film "Big Bang Big Boom" directed by Blu was awarded late Saturday the top prize at international animation festival Anim'est in Bucharest.

The jury praised the creation for its "inventive and monumental execution". ...

Disney picks up a Chinese cartoon series.

Creative Power Entertaining Corporation (CPE), a Guangdong Province-based animation company, said Monday it had reached a television license broadcast agreement with Disney affiliate Buena Vista to air its products.

"In the coming three years, audiences in countries such as India,Australia and Singapore will be able to enjoy the latest 100 episodes of the hit cartoon series 'Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf - Joys of Seasons'," said CPE General Manager Liu Manyi. ...

Last of all, a look back at Hanna-Barbera in its early days from Tony Benedict via Pink Slip Animation and Tom Sito.

Hanna Barbera vintage cartoon studio film from tony benedict on Vimeo.

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"Moving Violations"

The "subversive" artwork of SHAWN KELLER, who started in the biz in 1979 and has worked for Disney, Warner Bros., and DreamWorks, is featured in a show that plays at the Laguna College of Art and Design's Ettinger Gallery until October 28.

The New University website had this to say about Shawn's show, "Moving Violations: Subversive Cartoon Art":

... “Gag drawing” is a term used to define animation artwork that was never meant for public viewing. Some specific types of this art include caricature drawings, fake model sheets and short animated sequences.

Usually, the artists hang the amusing drawings they’ve done in their free time in the hallways of their animation studios as a reminder of the humorous times at work, rather than the stress and strict deadlines they constantly face on the job.

Although the artwork displayed in this exhibition is mainly fake (only in the sense that it was never made for a public audience), it still shows the serious side to the animation business. The same steps toward producing these pieces would have also been taken for the drawings, digital posters, short clips and storyboards of a full-length cartoon or movie.

You can still see the eraser marks under the ink lines of the sketched characters, revealing the indecisiveness of the artist. In addition, you can see the numerous sketches of characters drawn at different angles and in a variety of costumes while they complete an assortment of activities.

Keller, the artist who created all of the animated drawings in the exhibition, had a very specific talent for creating unusual, crazy and quirky characters in films and shows. He created Quasimodo for the Disney movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” as well as the frail old chef Cookie from “Atlantis: The Lost Empire.” As a supervisor and animator, Keller also worked on “Looney Tunes: Back in Action,” “Treasure Planet” and collaborated on numerous other movies.

Keller definitely has one great sense of humor. Think back to the time you watched “The Lion King.” Now imagine a poster of Scar with his hyena accomplices dressed up in drag à la “Rocky Horror Picture Show” with makeup, jewelry and everything else you could imagine. Once you see that, all sorts of weird things will cross your mind the next time you watch “The Lion King.” ...

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Monday, October 18, 2010

IBEW meets with VFX Artists

As announced by Jeff Heusser of FX Guide, the IBEW held a meeting for visual effects artists in Burbank on Saturday evening.

I joined the Guild to bring a seamless cloak of health and pension benefits as well as the strength of collective action to the visual effects artists with whom I worked. Efforts to that end are of interest to me and why I attended the meeting ...

While there weren't many visitors Saturday evening, there were certainly some heavy hitters among the people at the tables. Veteran VFX Artist and Supervisor as well as co-founder of and Vice Chancellor of, Jeff Heusser and veteran visual effects supervisor Scott Squires (to name a couple.)

* It is important to note that Scott and Jeff both attended as voices of the community and not advocates of organization. Scott's blog is read and watched by many VFX artists and Jeff's interviews for the FX Guide podcast are extremely popular and get tens of thousands of downloads regularly.

The IBEW was approached by visual effects artists interested in representation and held this meeting to announce their availability as well as gain insight into the breadth and scope of the industry and what is at stake. The IBEW took the opportunity to discuss what benefits would be offered to VFX artists who organized with them. As it turns out, they too would be able to provide health and pension benefits through the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health plans. They also talked about their strengths as a union and cited their 726k+ membership and multiple contracts with the studios as selling points to their viability.

They also opened the floor to the artist present, asking what the biggest needs were. Almost resoundingly, the artists agreed that the portability of benefits within the organic and tentative nature of employment in the industry is of the utmost importance to them. Very little was mentioned about the ridiculously long hours they are asked to work or wages being to low. Most artists there agreed that the hours are what they are, and that most artists in visual effects are paid well.

I have heartfelt respect for my counterparts at the IBEW. As much as I feel TAG is a better fit for the visual effects artist, the truth of the matter is that any representation will benefit those artists. Their need for portable, employer-funded health and pension benefits as well as the strength of collectively bargained and actively monitored contracts is long overdue.

I can't help but smart a bit from the knowledge that my lack of public exposure and outreach is the cause for an outreach to a different organization. As much as I am proud of the artists for venturing out and seeking representation on their own, I also learn that my job now needs to include much broader outreach programs and education seminars.

* This paragraph was added at the request of the named participants to clarify their intentions for visiting the meeting. I did not request their permission to use their names ahead of time and want to make clear their neutral stance as industry voices and professionals.

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Candidate statement: Nicole Dubuc

Candidate for Executive Board; incumbent

Thank you for electing me to serve you as a Trustee these past three years.  In my tenure on the Executive Board, we have made many positive changes: the purchase of our own building, the introduction of art shows, and the addition of an organizer.  With TAG membership numbers at their highest, it is more important than ever to have a Board that is sympathetic to YOUR needs.   I am always ready to listen, and I am honored to represent you.  Thank you for your vote.

Here is the 2010 candidate slate.
Here are the candidate statements posted to date.
Click here to read entire post

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Animation Rules in Foreign Lands

Studios will be making many more animated features becaauuse ....

... "Despicable Me" emerged No. 1 on the foreign theatrical circuit over the weekend, generating $25.7 million at 4,900 screens in 54 markets and raising its offshore gross total to $168.6 million.

Although the Universal release has been playing the foreign circuit for the last 15 weeks, the family-oriented 3D animation title voiced principally by Steve Carell is just now hitting full stride offshore due to its graduated rollout calibrated to school breaks among other factors. ...

"Despicable Me" passed the $400 million global gross benchmark Saturday ...

And the other animated features?

Fourth was Warner Bros' "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole," which drew $9.5 million from some 4,600 screens in 46 territories. ...

Taking the weekend's No. 1 spot in France was director-scripter Luc Besson's "Arthur et la guerre des deux mondes" ("Arthur and the Two World Wars") distributed by Europa Corp. Distribution.

We point out that both "Despicable Me" and "Arthur" were produced in higher wage France.

In the meantime, "Toy Story 3," has hit $645.3 million overseas, and "Shrek Forever After" $493.8 million.

Which is why animation will keep getting produced.

Click here to read entire post


Animation -- the universal language.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mid October Box Office

The owls are still in the Top Ten, but now at #7:. And 3-D is still permanent, and a big deal at the box office.

1. Jackass 3D (Paramount) NEW [3,081 Theaters] -- Friday $22M, Estimated Weekend $50M

2. Red (Summit) NEW [3,255 Theaters] -- Friday $7.3M, Estimated Weekend $20.9M

3. The Social Network (Sony) Week 3 [2,868 Theaters] -- Friday $3.3M, Estimated Weekend $11M, Estimated Cume $63.3M

4. Life As We Know It (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,150 Theaters] -- Friday $3.1M (-40%), Estimated Weekend $10M, Estimated Cume $29.7M

5. Secretariat (Disney) Week 2 [3,072 Theaters] -- Friday $2.8M (-30%), Estimated Weekend $11M, Estimated Cume $29M

6. The Town (Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,368 Theaters] -- Friday $1.2M, Estimated Weekend $4M, Estimated Cume $80.5M

7. Legend Of The Guardians (Warner Bros) Week 4 [2,502 Theaters] -- Friday $1M, Estimated Weekend $4M, Estimated Cume $45.8M

8. My Soul To Take (Rogue/Universal) Week 2 [2,529 Theaters] -- Friday $1M (-62%), Estimated Weekend $3.5M, Estimated Cume $12.2M

9. Easy A (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 5 [2,314 Theaters] -- Friday $855K, Estimated Weekend $2.8M, Estimated Cume $52.5M

10. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Fox) Week 4 [2,405 Theaters] -- Friday $715K, Estimated Weekend $2.5M, Estimated Cume $48M

As of day before yesterday (Thursday), "Despicable Me" was still playing in 353 theaters and picking up a small bit of money. It's domestic total now stands at $246.7 million.

Update: The L.A. Times reports that "Jackass" did kick ass, with $50 million in first weekend gross. (3-D continues to perform.)

"Legend of the Guardians" drops 39% to #6 and now has $46 million in domestic box office.

Click here to read entire post

Candidate statement: John Cataldi

Candidate for Executive Board; incumbent


Here is the 2010 candidate slate.
Here are the candidate statements posted to date.
Click here to read entire post

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mark Osborne to direct "Little Prince"

Kung Fu Panda co-director Mark Osborne has been tapped to direct Gallic 3D toon The Little Prince.

One of the biggest European movies this year, with a budget of €45 million ($63.4 million), Little Prince is produced by Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam.

Pic is an adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's 1943 novella, which has sold more than 80 million copies in about 180 languages.

"Having Mark onboard gives the project an international label of quality: He brings in his storytelling talent and level of experience," Rassam said.

Osborne's involvement also underscores the producers' ambition to "make The Little Prince for worldwide audiences on a similar scale as Miyazaki's and Hollywood films."

"On Kung Fu Panda, I worked with many French animators," Osborne said. "I look forward to building on that experience and collaborating with French talents again."

The producers are in the process of securing an international voice cast. Production will start in 2012 for delivery in 2014. Soumache also is producing a $25.3 million toon skein based on The Little Prince via his TV shingle Method Animation.

-- Variety, 10/15/2010

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Guys with blue skin and longbows in 3D, part VII

Opening today at an Indian cinema, perhaps not so near to you. Happy Dusshera!

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Candidate statement: Chris Simmons

Candidate for Executive Board

I have been a member of 839 for 5 years, this is my first time running for office.
Our union is unique among the IATSE guilds. We aren't grips, our artists telecommute, work as 1099 contractors, or work from boutique houses that fly under the IATSE radar. If I'm elected to the board I want to work with IATSE to find a way to extend our benefits to those working in these situations. A presence at Siggraph and VES would be good too. The industry has changed in the last 15 years. We need to change with it.

Here is the 2010 candidate slate.
Here are the candidate statements posted to date for the 2010 TAG officers' election.
Click here to read entire post

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wear One with Pride

A while back, in a post that described how the Guild elections will work, Jeff put up a picture of a button proclaiming the wearer to be an Educated Union Member. I was such a fan of this button, as was one of the commenters, we ordered a few for our membership.

These and many more like them are part of the Northland Poster Collective's button collection that was picked up by River City Buttons in Minneapolis, MN. They are extremely affordable and a great way to show your pride and solidarity among your peers and friends.

If you are interested in having one of the buttons we've ordered in the photo above, stop by the Guild office and ask me for one. I'd be happy to share one with you.

If you are interested in supporting a Union business and owning a few of these for yourself, check out the collection at the link above and email Jeff Nygaard at

Click here to read entire post


You have my promise this is the last of these I will post.

I can't speak for anyone else, though.

Click here to read entire post

Middle of the Week Linkage

A myriad of stories regarding cartoons.

It looks as though DWA doesn't hand everything off to Nickelodeon.

... In the “How to Train Your Dragon” television series on Cartoon Network, the characters and worlds originally created for the big screen will be explored and further developed in a number of exciting ways that will be revealed over time. ...

But there are other big screen franchises coming to television animation.

... 20th Century Fox is bringing the character back in all of his nun-chuck and computer-hacking glory with an all-new animated series arriving next year.

With director and co-writer Jared Hess executive producing the show and Jon Heder and other actors returning to reprise their beloved characters, we're absolutely excited to see what the series has to offer ...

The L.A. Times comments on the edgy "Simpsons" opening (seen below):

... Fox reportedly yanked the video from YouTube but left it up on Hulu. As of about an hour ago, however, the opening is back on YouTube, suggesting that the issue didn't have to do with copyright necessarily, that there may have been some discomfort with the subject matter (though exactly why is hard to fathom -- it already aired on the network). ... talks about WB Animation's latest super hero series:

... We were on hand at New York Comic-Con to get all the juicy details for Cartoon Network's upcoming animated adaptaion of Green Lantern, set to debut in late 2011.

The series, helmed by DC Animated Universe mainstay Bruce Timm, Giancarlo Volpe (Avatar: The Last Airbender) and Jim Krieg takes the form of CG animation, breaking from Timm's usual work with 2-D.

The Economic Times of India reports that Indian animation will enjoy boom times:

... The Indian animation industry will grow at a compounded annual rate of 30 per cent to reach a market size of $1.7 billion by 2012 and add over three lakh skilled animators, an industry lobby said Monday.

With over 1.5 lakh skilled animators, it is currently a $1 billion industry. ...

Soon, on little silver disks:

CinematicalSee All .CategoriesNews Reviews Interviews Sci Fi Horror .Looney Tunes' Infamous Racist Cartoons to be Released in 2011

... [T]he "Censored Eleven," a group of infamous Warner Bros. animated shorts -- mostly of the 'Merrie Melodies' franchise, though one is a Chuck Jones-helmed 'Looney Tunes' cartoon ... are set for release sometime in 2011 through the Warner Archive ...

Another older cartoon character has newer life:

Disney has acquired animated feature Kung Foo Magoo for its boy-skewed Disney XD channel in the US and various international territories.

The show, featuring the classic nearsighted pensioner character, created in the late 1940s, is produced by Anima Studios, Santo Domingo Films and Classic Media.

Magoo was created by ex-Disney animation artists who founded their own studio (U.P.A.) after leaving the Burbank Studio. But that wqas a long time ago.

Let's end with good news: B and B are coming back ...

This weekend, Paramount and MTV will unleash Jackass 3D upon an unsuspecting populace. The film's been shot with the same cameras that James Cameron used to make Avatar, the pranks and stunts are said to be more extreme than ever, and now we've heard that there's yet another reason to look forward to Jackass 3D: a Beavis and Butthead short-- also in 3D-- will precede the film. ...

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hats Off to the Tangled Crew

This video was brought to our attention and we wanted to share it with all of you. It captures the jocularity and camaraderie of production work very well.

This is a great salute to the team of TAG artists who flexed their artistic muscle to bring Tangled to the screen. We look forward to supporting their work by seeing it in the theaters and are thankful to Claudio for filming, mixing and presenting it to the world so we could share it.

Click here to read entire post

Scott Greenberg buys Film Roman

Big news:
Starz Media has sold its Film Roman animation studio to a group of investors led by Scott Greenberg, a former president of the studio. Burbank-based Film Roman, best known for its two decades of work on "The Simpsons," will be merged with Bento Box Entertainment, another animation studio in Burbank started by Greenberg and two partners last year.

This isn't any great surprise -- it's been known for some time that Film Roman was on the auction block, and Greenberg, its former pres, seems a natural fit to run the place.

Both Film Roman and Bento Box are TAG signators, so the seamless cloak of Guild protection remains intact. Our spies tell us that artistic layoffs are not expected as a result of the merger; some administrative layoffs have already taken place.

The Guild has had a good relationship with Scott, who voluntarily recognized us when he started Bento Box, and we wish him good luck with his new challenge.

Click here to read entire post

WDAS' Prep and Landing slated to return

We touted the Emmy Award winning achievements of the WDAS team on Prep and Landing a couple of months ago. Imagine our pleasure when we learned that Disney was going to release more of the enjoyable duo of Lanny and Wayne.

"Prep & Landing" returns this season with an all new 7-Minute animated short, "Operation: Secret Santa," airing on ABC in December, while the half-hour animated special, "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice," debuts in 2011. "Prep & Landing" became an instant favorite with viewers and emerged as TV's number 1 holiday special in the 2009 season. It was also the highest kids rating (kids 2-11/ 7.5/23), for any primetime telecast on broadcast TV in 2009. The special went on to win four Emmy Awards.

Commenting on the announcement, [John] Lasseter said, "We had so much fun making the first 'Prep & Landing' special, and the response from the audience and our colleagues in the industry was so terrific, that we wanted to bring these great characters back for more holiday fun. Kevin [Deters] and Stevie [Wermers-Skelton] have done an amazing job writing and directing these films, and everyone at Walt Disney Animation Studios has pitched in to make them truly extraordinary entertainment. Wayne, Lanny and the rest of our animated cast are funnier than ever in 'Operation: Secret Santa' and 'Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice;' we know they will become holiday favorites."

Congrats to the folk at Disney Animation who are working on this project. We're looking forward to being entertained by your work once again.

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Candidate statement: Mike Roth

Candidate for Executive Board

Thank you for your nomination. I've worked in animation for fifteen years in both NYC and LA as an animator, writer, director and producer.  I'm running because I would like to give something back to what I believe is one of the most important contributors to the health of our industry: our Union.  If elected, I'll work to expand the involvement and excitement of more of our younger members and future hopefuls. This is key to our Union's growth and strength and will help to secure the futures of all our members. Thank you for your consideration. 

Here is the 2010 candidate slate.
Here are the candidate statements posted to date for the 2010 TAG officers' election.
Click here to read entire post

Monday, October 11, 2010

Behind the scenes at The Simpsons

The British graffiti artist Banksy is credited with designing the opening sequence of Sunday night's episode of The Simpsons (the first 1:45 of the episode).

Kudos to KC Johnson for directing, and apologies for the advertising ... the cost of posting it legally.

More commentary on the opening.

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Update on How To Train Your Dragon 2

Considering the success that How to Train your Dragon achieved, the announcement of a sequel back in April should have been no surprise to anyone. With the release of the DVD coming soon, Dreamworks has released some details as to the new film's line-up and creative team:

The second chapter to the critically acclaimed 2010 blockbuster, How to Train Your Dragon – which has grossed nearly $500 million at the worldwide box office – will again feature the all-star voice talents of Jay Baruchel, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, TJ Miller and Kristen Wiig.

The sequel is being made under the creative guidance of Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders, and Bonnie Arnold. It is written and directed by DeBlois and produced by Arnold. Once again based on the book series by Cressida Cowell, the sequel is executive produced by Sanders and DeBlois.

My feelings on stereoscopic cinema are well documented on this blog. However, I have to admit that I did not catch Dragon in the theaters when it was out. The reports I've heard speak well of the stereo-work.

I look forward to purchasing the DVD and watching the film, albiet in two-dimensional squalor. I also look forward to 2013 when I can support our members by going to see the second installment of this story while donning the dimensional goggles. Click here to read entire post

Pres Romanillos: A Celebration of Life

A celebration of the life and achievements of Pres Romanillos has been planned for November 5th at the Walt Disney Studios Main Theater.

The full details of the gathering have not been finalized. There will be speakers and opportunities to share experiences and memories. The event will be hosted by Charles Solomon.

Kevin Koch has posted about this on the Pres-Aid website. As more details of the evening are posted on the site, we will make them available here as well.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Foreign Box Office

The big summer rollouts for animated features have almost run their course. The latest numbers:

... No. 2 on the weekend overall was Universal's "Despicable Me," which garnered $16.6 million from 3,500 venues in 35 territories, hoisting its overseas cume to $135.5 million. ... No. 3 was Warner's "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole," which opened in first place in Mexico and drew $11.3 million overall on the weekend from 4,500 situations in 35 markets. Cume ... stands at $25.8 million. ...

Disney's "Toy Story 3," $644.4 million .... Fox's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," $25.5 million. ...

And Box Office Mojo still has "Shrek Foever After" tracking globally at $731.8 million (rounded.)

Click here to read entire post

Stan Lee and Digital Comics

Huff Post reports on comic book veteran Stan Lee's newest venture:

MTV ... is joining forces with Lee's POW Entertainment to create a new digital comic series called "The Seekers."

"It involves superheroes, it involves a very high-concept plot, it's a story such as you never have seen before, and it spans the centuries," Lee said ...

Stan Lee Media had a short, red-hot run in the 1990s. But it ended up like many other dot com businesses of the time, owning a profit and loss model that did not work. (And it was less than helpful that Mr. L.'s business partner turned out to be not entirely honest ...)

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Candidate statement: Bronwen Barry

Candidate for Executive Board; incumbent

I have been a proud member of  TAG (Local 839) since ‘77, have served on the Executive Board since ‘93, and was elected Trustee in ‘07.
While as a Board member I always welcome any and all inquiries from TAG members regarding union matters which may be of concern, I feel I could be particularly effective in continuing my focus on issues affecting us all as we age in this industry.
I would be most honored and privileged to serve again should you, the Membership, choose to re-elect me.
Many thanks for your consideration,
Bronwen "Bronnie" Barry

Here is the 2010 candidate slate.
Here are the candidate statements posted to date for the 2010 TAG officers' election.
Click here to read entire post

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Weekend Box Office

Nikke Finke has numbers, and the owls are still with us:

1. Life As We Know It (Warner Bros) NEW [3,150 Theaters] -- Friday $5M, Estimated Weekend $15M

2. The Social Network (Sony) Week 2 [2,771 Theaters] -- Friday $4.5M (-43%), Estimated Weekend $15M, Estimated Cume $45.4M

3. Secretariat (Disney) NEW [3,072 Theaters] -- Friday $4.2M, Estimated Weekend $14.5M

4. My Soul To Take (Rogue Pictures/Universal) NEW [2,572 Theaters] -- Friday $2.5M, Estimated Weekend $7M

5. Legends of the Guardian: The Owls (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,225 Theaters] -- Friday $1.8M, Estimated Weekend $6.8M, Estimated Cume $39.3M

The birds are hanging in there, but they don't look like they're going to gain a lot of elevation.

On Thursday, Box Office Mojo had "Alpha and Omega" tracking at #11 with $19.5 million.

Update: "Legends" has a good hold -- third best for a Top Tenner -- and collects $7 million for a total of $39.4 million.

Other animated features trundle along: "Alpha and Omega" drops 49% to #14 for a $21 million total. "Toy Story 3" shoots back up to #17, collects half a million new dollars and now stands at $412 million. "Despicable Me", down at #22, has (to date) collected $246.5 million.

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The "Hey, Let's Find A Job" Game, by Tina Kugler

Originally published in the May 2006 Peg-Board, and on the TAG Blog on May 16, 2006. Click the thumbnail for a larger image.
Tina's blog.
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Friday, October 08, 2010

Happy birthday, John

In honor of his seventieth birthday. And yes, it's an ad for Satan - but it's still cool.

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Candidate statement: Gordon Kent

Candidate for Executive Board

I’ve been a member of the Animation Union since 1977 when I was an inbetweener at Hanna-Barbera. Since then I’ve worked at most of the major studios and been involved in most aspects of animation including storyboard, writing and story editing, producing, voice directing and, most currently, timing direction. I believe in a strong union and I believe that strength is best achieved through involvement. I hope you will allow me the privilege of getting involved.

Here is the 2010 candidate slate. Here are the candidate statements posted to date for the 2010 TAG officers' election.
Click here to read entire post

Ballots mailed - and the candidate statements begin

Today, the American Arbitration Association is mailing ballots to the active membership of the Animation Guild. Next week, we will be mailing a special election issue of The Peg-Board containing statements from candidates for contested positions in this year's officer election.

Meanwhile, starting today the candidates' Peg-Board statements will appear on the TAG Blog every other day through November 3, a week-and-a-half before the ballots are counted.

Here is the 2010 candidate slate.

Again, to remind you of our policy: Electioneering will not be allowed on the TAG Blog. Until the ballots are counted on November 13, all comments on the blog will be moderated, and off-topic comments will be blocked.

Click here to read entire post

No 3D for HP7.1?

Warner Bros. was quoted in today's Variety announcing that, contrary to previous publicity, they will not be releasing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 in 3D on November 19. However, they said that Part 2 would be released on July 15, 2011 in both 2D and 3D.

Studio said Friday that it wasn't able to convert the film in its entirety and meet the "highest standards of quality" in time for next month's release.

"We do not want to disappoint fans who have long-anticipated the conclusion of this extraordinary journey, and to that end, we are releasing our film day-and-date on November 19, 2010 as planned," the studio said. "We, in alignment with our filmmakers, believe this is the best course to take in order to ensure that our audiences enjoy the consummate "Harry Potter" experience."

It may be significant that they did not say whether they might release in 3D at some future time, only that it wouldn't be seen in 3D on November 19.

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Organizer's Notes .. When did Union become a bad word?

Growing up, I can remember seeing Norma Rae and trying to understand what unions did for their members. I also remember hearing about the benefits of the collective voice and wondering how my self-employed father could get those benefits. I grew up knowing what the acronyms SAG and UAW meant and who the Teamsters were. I remember thinking of how great it must be to be part of a group that worked with the company to make sure that working conditions were kept up in order to maintain employee satisfaction and therefore profitability and productivity.

When did all that change? When did being a member of a Union change into something that needs to be kept hidden?

At the risk of being labeled a Marxist, its pretty easy to point a finger at Big Business/Republicans and say that the money hungry bourgeois have spread their propaganda against the tools available to the working class designed to bring a modicum of comfort and peace of mind. When you strip away the rhetoric, who really benefits from vilifying organized labor?

Organized Labor stems from the needs of the workers to unite in collective action to secure fair and equitable wages and working conditions. To achieve this, a balance of the decision making "power" in the workplace had to be forged. Through decades of negotiations and concessions, contracts and agreements were hammered out giving the workers leverage and a voice in the operations of the workplace.

Within the last 30 years, union membership in our United States has seen a significant drop. This link shows a more linear decline from 1948 to 2004 with a steep turn in the decade between 1974 and 1984. There are multitudes of theories bandied about that ascribe reasons for this shift. Market globalization, the crash of the auto industry and the increase in resistance on the part of corporate management being the most prominent.

There is still one unshakable fact that this Organizer can't get past. The reasons for labor organization haven't changed because the desire to make money hasn't changed. The entertainment industry will remain because people want to go to the movies and turn on their televisions to be amused; and are willing to pay for it. That money then gets distributed back to the people who sat in their seats to: write the story, draw the character, model the cast, paint the textures .. among the other tasks it takes to get the production done. These artists will consistently be the ones who will be asked to sacrifice in order for the companies/producers to get more for their buck.

And therein lies the struggle. So, no matter how many websites are built by mischievous organizations aimed at disseminating false and scandalous information about Labor Organizations, the need for worker protection against wage and workplace violations will still exist. Our vigilance and contractual protection, matched with a seamless cloak of health and pension benefits across the industry, remains the strongest option for the artist who just wants to exercise their skills and enjoy a long and prosperous life.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Mike Myers stinks

You can already start to smell the bad jokes. In the words of Danny Cox of the New Orleans Examiner:
Sometimes even the cartoon characters you thought were gone for good are brought back to life. And in a big way too.

Warner Bros. is currently developing a live-action/CGI movie (aren't they all?) based on the French animated skunk, Pepe Le Pew from Looney Tunes. Mike Myers (Austin Powers) is attached to voice our foul friend.

The studio is said to be incredibly high on bringing the giant cast of animated characters back to life considering how much money in licensing revenue is used for them each year. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig, and Foghorn Leghorn are just a few of the other icons on the Looney Tunes roster.

Jeff Sneider of says:

According to Vulture, only Pepe and his unrequited love interest, Penelope Pussycat, would be CGI characters, while the rest of the film will be live-action, just like "Garfield," "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and the upcoming "Yogi Bear."

Jaime Weisman of points out:

This does give me the opportunity to post this cartoon, which I think would be the only one that could serve as a template for a Pepe Le Pew feature. All the other Pepe cartoons have the stalker/attempted rape issue that Dave Chappelle and others have pointed out. But in this 1959 film, the girl cat is actually as interested in Pepe as he is in her. The problem is that they can’t get together because he smells so terrible that it makes her pass out (for which she’s taunted by June Foray as the narrator: “You are not going to let a little thing like breathing stand in your way?!”). It was written by the great Michael Maltese; oddly, the only cartoon that departs from the usual Pepe formula was not directed by the creator, Chuck Jones, but by one of his animators, Abe Levitow — leading many cartoon buffs to wonder if Jones would have accepted this change-of-pace script if he’d been in the director’s chair.

Weisman is wrong -- there's a similar twist in the Jones-directed "For Scent-imental Reasons," the Oscar-winning third Pepe Le Pew short.

The Macleans article concludes:

WB is planning these projects because their cartoon characters don’t make anywhere near the money in merchandising that the Disney characters do. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I will point out something I’ve pointed out elsewhere: Disney, for the most part, allows Mickey and Donald and Goofy cartoons to stay on YouTube. Some of them have been there for years. Meanwhile, Warner Brothers is constantly cracking down on YouTube uploads of Bugs, Daffy and Pepe cartoons. Do they not think Disney cartoons might get some extra merchandising value from the fact that they’re actually there, on the biggest video site in the world, where kids can see them?
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Glenn Beck responds ...

... to this.

Having spent the last week bending over backwards to be fair to all sides, it came as second nature for me to post this.

And I'm sure that in return he'll be more than happy to run our rebuttals to his broadcasts.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dreamworks wants to take a stab at Master Chief's movie

DreamWorks is attempting to pick up the rights to a Halo film. However, if history is any kind of teacher, it could be a bad decision.

The halting, years-long effort to turn Microsoft’s $2 billion Halo video-game franchise into a movie is again moving forward [..] DreamWorks Pictures is renewing its efforts to obtain the rights and revive the project, which has been in a state of suspended animation since late 2006. It's obvious why this property seems even more valuable now. Halo: Reach grossed $200 million on its very first day in release last month, making it 2010's best-selling game. But after Fox and Universal already dumped millions of dollars into developing the project only to come up with nothing, why does DreamWorks seem so intent on trying, and how will they steal away with this franchise without getting sucked into the other two studios' money pit?

[After] all of these years, many wonder whether the idea of a Halo movie is an impossibility. Because while Hollywood politics derailed the first go-round, there are also Microsoft politics that lay in wait. Somebody has to be in control of a movie; it’s a director’s medium. But they’re completely averse to that. Because if Steven Spielberg [screws] it up, what’s your recourse? So the rule is: ‘First, do no harm.’

Maybe so, but if anyone has enough street cred to get Microsoft to relax, it's Spielberg. One can imagine him casually turning to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer at dinner and murmuring, "Halo's only made $2 billion worldwide? I thought it was like, a big deal or something? I mean, my films have grossed $8.5 billion worldwide, so ... well. Anyway, who'd like dessert?"

Hollywood has been scraping and scrounging for movie ideas for a very long time now. If films of popular cartoons and children's books can make a mint, why not the most popular video game of 2010?

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We're not the only ones with career problems

From the Medium Large webcomic by Francesco Marciuliano.
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Right Wing Radio Duck

Regardless of your political affiliation, you gotta admire the skill and humor of this "mix video". Thanks to Tom Sito for bringing it to our attention.

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