Monthly Archives: January 2012

It’s okay to say gang suspect looked like a Smurf


Smurf (Not the actual one)

A rob­bery sus­pect may be feel­ing blue after an appeals court said Tues­day that a Yakima County, Wash­ing­ton judge could allow tes­ti­mony that he was dressed like a Smurf.

Ernesto Ruiz Cer­vantes, 21, is cur­rently serv­ing eight years in prison for attack­ing another youth in Wap­ato in a 2009 robbery.

The vic­tim tes­ti­fied that he was rid­ing his bike home just after mid­night on New Year’s Day when a car roared up behind him, caus­ing him to crash.

A young man he knew as “Smurf” jumped out the vehi­cle and, hold­ing a knife, demanded, “What do you bang?”

The unnamed vic­tim denied being in a gang. He tes­ti­fied that “Smurf” robbed him of his iPod and other pos­ses­sions and punched him in the head. Cer­vantes was pros­e­cuted after the vic­tim later iden­ti­fied him as “Smurf.”

Besides being iden­ti­fied with the car­toon Smurfs, blue is widely asso­ci­ated with Sureo gang members.

Cer­vantes com­plained in his appeal that tes­ti­mony about his nick­name and blue cloth­ing was prej­u­di­cial. Supe­rior Court Judge Michael McCarthy allowed it, thus, he lamented, con­sti­tuted an abuse of discretion.

Usu­ally, gang affil­i­a­tion would be pro­tected free speech, but might not be it it went to motive, said the Divi­sion III Court of Appeals in Spokane.

Pros­e­cu­tors used the tes­ti­mony about Cer­vantes being called “Smurf” only to estab­lish the iden­tity of the rob­ber, the court added.

The vic­tim and the police alike knew Cer­vantes as “Smurf.” He seems to dress like one as well, with blue shoes and a blue belt. Mush­rooms sim­i­lar to those in Smurfs engraved on his belt buckle.

The fact that the defen­dant was also dressed in Smurf attire when arrested fur­ther estab­lished the iden­tity of the rob­ber,” appeals court Judge Kevin Korsmo wrote.

The evi­dence was admis­si­ble and highly pro­ba­tive. The prej­u­di­cial impact was com­par­a­tively slight,” he added.

Oscar-nominated “Rango” set for limited re-release



The now Acad­emy Award-nominated “Rango,” from direc­tor Gore Verbin­ski and star­ring the voice of Johnny Depp, sad­dles up for a one-week lim­ited engage­ment at the ArcLight Hol­ly­wood begin­ning this Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 27.

The orig­i­nal ani­mated comedy-adventure from Para­mount Pic­tures and Nick­elodeon Movies, which takes movie­go­ers for a walk in the Wild West, was nom­i­nated Tues­day morn­ing for an Oscar for Best Ani­mated Fea­ture Film.

Rango is the win­ner of the National Board of Review and Crit­ics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Ani­mated Fea­ture, while top crit­ics’ groups around the United States — includ­ing Boston, Chicago, Los Ange­les, San Fran­cisco and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — have declared it the best ani­mated film of 2011.

A chameleon liv­ing as an ordi­nary fam­ily pet, Rango dreams of being a fear­less hero and is chal­lenged to become just that when he inad­ver­tently becomes the sher­iff of a law­less desert town called Dirt.

Writ­ten by John Logan and directed by Gore Verbin­ski, Rango earned more than $230 mil­lion world­wide. The film also fea­tures the voices of Isla Fisher, Abi­gail Bres­lin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Ned Beatty, Harry Dean Stan­ton, Ray Win­stone and Tim­o­thy Olyphant.

Customers Wanted (1939) — Popeye the Sailor Theatrical Cartoon Series

Customers Wanted (1939) - Popeye the Sailor

Cus­tomers Wanted (1939) — Pop­eye the Sailor

CotD: Even back in 1939, stu­dios would release “best of” com­pi­la­tions as new mate­r­ial. “Cus­tomers Wanted” not only was made from 2 pre­vi­ous car­toons, but was remade itself in 1955!

Cus­tomers Wanted (1939) — Pop­eye the Sailor The­atri­cal Car­toon Series

Bluto and Pop­eye own com­pet­ing penny arcades that show scenes from their past car­toons, but no cus­tomers are stop­ping in! Wimpy strolls by, and each tries to bribe Wimpy (their only cus­tomer) into watch­ing their great car­toon moments. Nat­u­rally, Wimpy has the nerve to bor­row the nec­es­sary penny and promises to gladly “pay Tues­day.” The rivalry between Pop­eye and Bluto gets out of hand to the point where they start bat­tling each other so fiercely that the enter­pris­ing Wimpy goes out­side and charges a dime to see “the fight of the cen­tury” inside the arcade!

Come see “Cus­tomers Wanted” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

Feature “Back to the Sea” opens Friday in Canada

Back to the Sea

Back to the Sea

The ani­mated fea­ture film “Back to the Sea” will open in the­aters across Canada in both 2D and 3D on Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 27, Indus­try­Works Pic­tures announced.

Back to the Sea is a tale of adven­ture that fol­lows Kevin, a young fly­ing fish, who lives in New York Har­bor. He dreams of lead­ing his fam­ily back to Bar­ba­dos — the myth­i­cal king­dom of the fly­ing fish.

One fate­ful day, his adven­tur­ous nature finds him cap­tured by a fish­ing ship and deliv­ered to the fish tank of a Chi­nese restau­rant in New York City’s Chi­na­town, where he meets a quiet young boy who also longs for excite­ment and adven­ture. The two become friends and begin a dar­ing quest to get Kevin back to the sea. Bat­tling furi­ous chefs, evil thieves and hun­gry din­ers, the two heroes dis­cover the true mean­ing of friend­ship, fam­ily, and the impor­tance of fol­low­ing your dreams.

Directed by Thom Lu, the film is voiced by, among oth­ers, Chris­t­ian Slater (Break­ing In, Inter­view with the Vam­pire, Pump Up the Vol­ume, Robot Chicken) as Jack, the bad guy and rob­ber. Tim Curry (Rocky Hor­ror Pic­ture Show, The Wild Thorn­ber­rys) lends his voice to play Eric, Kevin’s father. Mark Hamill, best known for his lead­ing role as Luke Sky­walker in Star Wars, plays Bunker the wise old octo­pus, while Tom Kenny (Sponge­bob SquarePants) pro­vides the hilar­i­ous voice of Ben the Life Coach.

This is Indus­try­Works Pic­tures’ first the­atri­cal ani­ma­tion film, as well as its first co-production with China.

This is an impor­tant step for Canada, and a huge feat for the Vancouver-based inde­pen­dent film com­pany to enter into a part­ner­ship with a stu­dio like Glory & Dream Dig­i­tal Ani­ma­tion. They are one of the top com­pa­nies in ani­mated films in China, as is The Jiangsu Broad­cast Com­pany, the second-largest broad­cast com­pany in China. The expe­ri­ence has been some­thing quite incred­i­ble,” the com­pany said.

The 96-minute film is pro­duced by Calvin Yao; Ming Sun, Kathryn Grif­fiths, Evan Tylor and Tom Ray­cove are the exe­cu­tuve pro­duc­ers. Music is by Gor­don McGhie.

Longtime television actor James Farentino dies, 73

James Farentino

James Far­entino

Tele­vi­sion actor James Far­entino, one of Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios’ last con­tract play­ers in the 1960s, died Tues­day at Cedars-Sinai Med­ical Cen­ter in Los Ange­les after a long ill­ness, his family’s spokesman said. He was 73.

Far­entino took on almost 100 TV roles, includ­ing recur­ring gigs in such shows as Police Story, Dynasty and the orig­i­nal Mel­rose Place. He was well-known for play­ing George Clooney’s character’s estranged father on ER.

The Brooklyn-born actor pro­vided addi­tional nar­ra­tion in the 2001 ani­mated TV-movie The Apos­tle Paul: The Man Who Turned the World Upside Down. He voiced Grungy in the 1994 Aaahh!!! Real Mon­sters episode “Mon­sters, Get Real”/“Snorched If You Do, Snorched If You Don’t.”

Mar­ried four times, Far­entino had a pri­vate life that proved scan­dalous. Fol­low­ing a five-year, on-and-off rela­tion­ship with Frank Sinatra’s youngest daugh­ter, Tina, he pleaded no con­test in 1994 to stalk­ing her after being charged with 24 mis­de­meanor counts of stalk­ing, mak­ing harass­ing phone calls and vio­lat­ing a restrain­ing order.

He was sen­tenced to 36 months’ pro­ba­tion, and was made to take psy­cho­log­i­cal and alco­hol coun­sel­ing. Some in the indus­try treated him dif­fer­ently after­ward, Far­entino said.

My behav­ior was appalling — feel­ing so hurt and rejected that I was the vic­tim when I really wasn’t,” he told the Los Ange­les Times in a 2003 inter­view. “So you inflict your pain on some­one else to make them iden­tify with you.”

Born on Feb­ru­ary 24, 1938, he went through Brooklyn’s parochial school sys­tem befoer study­ing act­ing at the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Dra­matic Arts. He won the The­atre World Award for recre­at­ing the role of Stan­ley Kowal­ski in A Street­car Named Desire in 1973.

In 1991, while film­ing a TV-movie, Far­entino was arrested in Van­cou­ver after Royal Cana­dian Mounted Police inter­cepted a pack­age con­tain­ing 3.2 grams of cocaine being sent to his hotel room. Charged with cocaine pos­ses­sion, he was released on bail.

James Farentino’s first three mar­riages ended in divorce: to actress Eliz­a­beth Ash­ley from 1962 to 1965, actress Michele Lee from 1966 to 1982, and Debrah Far­entino from 1985 to 1988.

He is sur­vived by his fourth wife, Stella Far­entino, whom he mar­ried in 1994 — and from whom he filed for divorce — and sons David and Save­rio. Michelle Lee is David’s mother.

Always Kickin’ (1939) — Color Classics Theatrical Cartoon Series

Always Kickin' (1939) - Color Classics

Always Kickin’ (1939) — Color Classics

CotD: Fleis­cher Stu­dios semi-regulars Hunky and Spunky got their start in “Always Kickin’” in the Color Clas­sics The­atri­cal Car­toon Series.

Always Kickin’ (1939) — Color Clas­sics The­atri­cal Car­toon Series

Mother don­key Hunky tries to teach her son Spunky how to exer­cise his back kicks to kick like a “man,” but he doesn’t take it seri­ously. All that Spunky wants to do is sing along with his lit­tle birdy friends. He even tries to fly, but the birds dis­cour­age this folly. Sud­denly, an ugly hawk swoops down and kid­naps one of the baby birds from its nest. Spunky sum­mons all his courage to climb up a moun­tain to the hawk’s lair, to con­front the bully. Hunky tells Spunky to use his kick­ing, and Spunky man­ages to knock the bad bird out cold so that good don­keys and good birds can live hap­pily ever after.

Come see “Always Kickin’” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

Gregg Taylor named head of development for DWA

DreamWorks Animation SKG

Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion SKG

Gregg Tay­lor has been named head of devel­op­ment for Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion SKG, Inc., a role pre­vi­ously held by Alex Schwartz, the stu­dio announced Tuesday.

Schwartz will serve as a pro­ducer on the studio’s fea­ture film Mr. Peabody & Sher­man, sched­uled for release on March 14, 2014. Tay­lor will over­see the devel­op­ment of all projects at DWA.

Gregg is an excep­tional exec­u­tive with a wide range of cre­ative expe­ri­ence that will pos­i­tively influ­ence our future slate. I am con­fi­dent that he will thrive as the new leader of Dream­Works Animation’s devel­op­ment team,” said Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion chief cre­ative offi­cer Bill Dam­aschke. “Alex’s exem­plary work in devel­op­ment over the years makes her an ideal choice to assume the role of pro­ducer on Mr. Peabody & Sher­man, and I look for­ward to her con­tin­ued cre­ative input and lead­er­ship. On behalf of the entire stu­dio, I offer heart­felt con­grat­u­la­tions to both Gregg and Alex as they take on their new roles.”

To be able to make movies with the incred­i­bly tal­ented team of exec­u­tives and artists at Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion is an absolute priv­i­lege,” said Tay­lor. “This stu­dio is a very spe­cial place, and I am deeply grate­ful to be work­ing along­side Jef­frey, Bill and Ann Daly as we strive to tell great sto­ries and find inno­v­a­tive ways to expand our business.”

I have enjoyed four won­der­ful years over­see­ing devel­op­ment at Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion, thanks in large part to the unpar­al­leled qual­ity of my team, includ­ing Gregg, Damon Ross and Chris Kuser,” added Schwartz. “I am eager to take on the next cre­ative chal­lenge of pro­duc­ing Mr. Peabody & Sher­man, which has long been a pas­sion project of mine. I am thrilled to be work­ing with the immensely tal­ented direc­tor Rob Minkoff and part­ner­ing with vet­eran Dream­Works pro­ducer Denise Cascino.”

Tay­lor pre­vi­ously served as a senior devel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion exec­u­tive, over­see­ing Dream­Works Animation’s expand­ing fran­chise prop­er­ties, includ­ing the upcom­ing sequel to How to Train Your Dragon, as well as The Pen­guins of Mada­gas­car and the company’s TV ini­tia­tives. Tay­lor served six years as exec­u­tive vice-president of devel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion for The Kennedy/Marshall Com­pany, dur­ing which time the com­pany pro­duced The Curi­ous Case of Ben­jamin But­ton, Div­ing Bell and the But­ter­fly, Perse­po­lis and The Bourne Ulti­ma­tum, among oth­ers. His rela­tion­ship with Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion began with Shrek when Tay­lor ran Mike Myers’ pro­duc­tion com­pany, where he co-produced Austin Pow­ers in Gold­mem­ber and exec­u­tive pro­duced The Cat in the Hat for Imag­ine Entertainment.

In her role as Dream­Works Animation’s head of devel­op­ment since 2008, Schwartz over­saw the cre­ative group on cur­rent and future fea­ture film projects, includ­ing Rise of the Guardians, Mr. Peabody & Sher­man and Trolls (work­ing title). Prior to join­ing the com­pany, she served as Walden Media’s exec­u­tive vice-president, where she was in charge of the cre­ative group and served as exec­u­tive pro­ducer on films includ­ing Holes, Bridge to Ter­abithia, Charlotte’s Web and Jour­ney 3D to the Cen­ter of the Earth. Schwartz began her career as an exec­u­tive at Touch­stone Pictures.

Actor Patton Oswalt to host 39th Annual Annies

Patton Oswalt

Pat­ton Oswalt

Pat­ton Oswalt, recently nom­i­nated by the Chicago, Toronto and Los Ange­les Film Crit­ics’ Asso­ci­a­tions for his per­for­mance in Young Adult star­ring oppo­site Char­l­ize Theron, will host this year’s 39th Annual Annie Awards on Sat­ur­day, Feb­ru­ary 4 at UCLA’s Royce Hall, orga­niz­ers announced Monday.

The Annies are where the real weirdos hang, and it’s a visual feast just to have a drink with them,” says Oswalt, irrev­er­ent as always. “I can’t wait.”

Cel­e­brat­ing the best in ani­ma­tion, this annual black-tie evening will begin with a pre-reception at 5 p.m., fol­lowed by the Annie Awards cer­e­mony at 7 p.m. and an after-party cel­e­bra­tion imme­di­ately after the cer­e­mony. All events will be held at Royce Hall.

Patton’s comedic tal­ent, auda­cious humor and love for ani­ma­tion will bring great energy and vis­i­bil­ity, not to men­tion fun to this year’s cer­e­mony,’’ says ASIFA-Hollywood pres­i­dent Frank Glad­stone. “We are extremely excited to have him aboard.”

Pat­ton pro­vided the voice for Remy the rat in Pixar’s Oscar-winning Rata­touille, and also char­ac­ters on Word Girl and Neigh­bors from Hell. He has appeared in count­less TV shows, both ani­mated and live-action, and more than 20 films, includ­ing Mag­no­lia, Big Fan, Starsky and Hutch and The Infor­mant.

He will be joined on stage by a lively mix of ani­ma­tion lumi­nar­ies, celebrity pre­sen­ters and comedic tal­ent, includ­ing ani­ma­tion leg­end June Foray and Judy Greer, JK Sim­mons, James Hong, Jib Jab founders Greg and Evan Spiri­del­lis, Nika Fut­ter­man, Ty Bur­rell, Kelly Sta­bles, Tara Strong, Daran Nor­ris, Dee Bradley Baker and Logan Grove.

This year’s Win­sor McCay recip­i­ents are Walt Pere­goy, Borge Ring and Ronald Searle. Searle’s award will be posthu­mous, as he died late last year at 91.

The Win­sor McCay Award stands as one of the high­est hon­ors given to an indi­vid­ual in the ani­ma­tion indus­try in recog­ni­tion for career con­tri­bu­tions to the art of ani­ma­tion. For com­plete ticket infor­ma­tion and up-to-the minute details on the 39th Annual Annie Awards, visit

Gerald McBoing Boing (1951) — Jolly Frolics Theatrical Cartoon Series

Gerald McBoing Boing (1951) - Jolly Frolics

Ger­ald McBo­ing Boing (1951) — Jolly Frolics

CotD: The short that kicked off UPA’s first series, “Ger­ald McBo­ing Boing” was based on a story by children’s author Dr. Seuss.

Ger­ald McBo­ing Boing (1951) — Jolly Frol­ics The­atri­cal Car­toon Series

Ger­ald, who doesn’t speak words but goes “boing boing” instead, finds his tal­ents unap­pre­ci­ated by fam­ily and friends, and so he runs away from home. How­ever, a kindly radio sta­tion boss is quick to spot his potential…

At age 2, the lit­tle boy, instead of start­ing to talk, pro­duces sound effects. The des­per­ate father calls on Dr. Mal­one, who, after exam­in­ing Ger­ald, declares that there’s noth­ing he can do. The par­ents are con­stantly being scared by Ger­ald, so they send him to school, hop­ing that he’ll learn words, but he’s sent home. When he tries to play with boys and girls, he’s rejected.

Depressed, Ger­ald runs away from home, but he’s found by a radio pro­gram pro­ducer, who hires him to do sound effects for his pro­grams. As the announcer describes the action, Ger­ald pro­duces the appro­pri­ate sound effects, using a script. He becomes a big hit, sign­ing auto­graphs for his fans, and his now-proud par­ents accom­pany him in a gigan­tic new car.

Come see “Ger­ald McBo­ing Boing” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

The Best In Animated Films

Oscar Statuette, Academy Awards

Oscar Stat­uette, Acad­emy Awards

Five fea­ture length ani­mated films have been cho­sen by the Acad­emy of Motion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences as the best exam­ples of ani­ma­tion over the past year. A cou­ple won­der­ful for­eign films– and a sur­pris­ing pair from Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion– head the list.

Une Vie de Chat (A Cat In Paris)- Folim­age, Jean-Loup Feli­ci­oli, Alain Gag­nol direc­tors. When seven-year-old Zoe learns that her cat, Dino, has been using his late-night wan­der­ings to help a kind­hearted thief, the lit­tle girl embarks on a night­time Parisian adven­ture that may help her come to terms with her father’s recent death.

Chico & Rita- Isle of Man Film, Cin­e­maNX, Fer­nando Trueba Pro­duc­ciones Cin­e­matográ­fi­cas S.A., Magic Light Pic­tures, Javier Mariscal, Fer­nando Trueba direc­tors. When Chico first sees Rita singing in a Cuban night­club, he woos her with music and then loses her through the messi­ness of his own roman­tic life. As the events in their country’s tur­bu­lent his­tory alter both of their lives, the attrac­tion between them remains strong through­out the years that follow.

Kung Fu Panda 2- Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion, Jen­nifer Yuh Nel­son, direc­tor. Now that he is the Dragon War­rior and the leader of the Furi­ous Five, Po con­tin­ues to hone his kung fu skills. When Lord Shen, a dan­ger­ous and arro­gant pea­cock, attempts to take con­trol of the Val­ley of Peace, Po’s quest to com­bat Shen’s dic­ta­to­r­ial ambi­tions leads him to make aston­ish­ing dis­cov­er­ies about his own past.

Puss In Boots- Warner Bros. Pic­tures, Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion, Chris Miller direc­tor. As an orphaned kit­ten, young Puss in Boots suf­fered a dev­as­tat­ing fall from grace engi­neered by his one-time friend, Humpty Dumpty, who has spent the ensu­ing years in prison. Puss nev­er­the­less agrees to team up with Humpty and the beau­ti­ful Kitty Soft­paws to steal three magic beans from a pair of thugs named Jack and Jill.

Rango- Nick­elodeon Movies, Indus­trial Light & Magic, Gore Verbin­ski, direc­tor. When Rango the lizard finds him­self stranded in the Mojave Desert, his green skin unable to cam­ou­flage him in the inhos­pitable brown land­scape, he man­ages to pass him­self off as a deadly gun­slinger. To the des­per­ate, drought-stricken town of Dirt, which is suf­fo­cat­ing in the grip of its cor­rupt mayor, the rep­til­ian stranger soon begins to look like a savior.

Notice­ably absent from the nom­i­nees list is Dis­ney and sub-studio pow­er­house PIXAR.  Their entries this year– Win­nie The Pooh and Cars 2- were bounced by the pair from Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion. Also miss­ing was any men­tion of Steven Spielberg’s motion cap­ture The Adven­tures Of Tintin: Secret Of The Uni­corn which has been rak­ing in awards from all over the world. Per­haps the days of motion cap­ture are over (we can only hope!)