Monthly Archives: February 2012

Egyptian court tosses lawsuit over bearded Mickey

Bearded Mickey

Bearded Mickey

An Egyptian court has dismissed one of two complaints over tweeted cartoons of a bearded Mickey Mouse and a veiled Minnie Mouse.

In June, telecommunications magnate Naguib Sawiris, a billionaire Coptic Christian, infuriated conservative Muslims with the satirical messages. Both complaints accuse Sawiris of insulting Islam.

The judge at Qasr al-Nil court dismissed the first case Tuesday, fining the plaintiff $8. The judge ruled that individuals who “lack legal standing” made the initial complaint, legal sources said.

However, a different court is slated to rule Saturday on the second case. That suit was filed by another group of lawyers, including member of parliament Mamduh Ismail, a member of the ultraconservative Salafist group of Islamists.

Sawiris tweeted images of Mickey with a full beard and wearing a traditional Islamic robe, and Minnie wearing a niqab (full-face veil) with only her eyes showing. However, her large ears and famed pink hair ribbon were visible.

After an angry response from people who said they took offsnse, Sawiris removed the pictures. He tweeted: “I apologize for those who don’t take this as a joke, I just thought it was a funny picture; no disrespect meant. I am sorry.”

Nonetheless, tens of thousands of people joined groups on Facebook and other social media condemning him. As well, conservative Muslim groups urged boycotts of the tycoon’s firms.

Boom Boom (1936) – Looney Tunes Theatrical Cartoon Series

Boom Boom (1936) - Looney Tunes Theatrical Cartoon Series

Boom Boom (1936) - Looney Tunes Theatrical Cartoon Series

CotD: Rarest of the rare, a leap year cartoon is hard to find. But we do have “Boom Boom” a Looney Tunes short from 1936.

Boom Boom (1936) – Looney Tunes Theatrical Cartoon Series

Porky Pig and Beans, his friend, are in the army together. When a carrier pigeon brings them news that General Hardtack is being held prisoner, Beans motorcycles to the rescue, dragging a reluctant Porky beside him in his sidecar. The two rescue the general and make their escape in a convenient airplane. After they land amidst an explosion, the three bandaged characters share a hospital bed. The general passes along one of his medals to Beans, who gives half to Porky.

Come see “Boom Boom” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase

Louisiana governor salutes Moonbot on Oscar

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal congratulated Shreveport-based animation studio Moonbot Studios on Sunday night for winning an Oscar at the 84th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Moonbot reached the apex of the entertainment industry by winning the Oscar for Best Achievement in Animated Short Film for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Author-illustrator William Joyce and co-director Brandon Oldenburg accepted the Oscar for the acclaimed 14-minute film. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore features the protagonist surviving a storm and landing in a world where books come alive as characters with curative powers as they impart healing through discovery. Joyce, Oldenburg, managing partner Lampton Enochs and the Moonbot staff employed a variety of techniques in a hybrid animation style inspired by The Wizard of Oz, Buster Keaton and the Hurricane Katrina experience.

“Tonight, Louisiana celebrates this Oscar win with the exceptionally talented and creative staff of Moonbot Studios in Shreveport,” Jindal said. “We’re proud that Louisiana residents and a Louisiana-based company created this groundbreaking work that pays homage to a love of books and perseverance through a love of learning.

“Moonbot is an exceptional example of the quality work being produced throughout Louisiana, every day, in the digital and film industries we’ve worked so hard to cultivate. Their success continues to expand opportunities for our sons and daughters, who can look forward to creative and successful careers across our state.”

Morris Lessmore spawned a celebrated iTunes app that became a best-seller and broke new ground in the creative use of digital, animation and illustration media. In calling the work one of the Top 10 apps of 2011 and his favorite work of fiction in a book app last year, Bob Tedeschi of the New York Times wrote: “Morris Lessmore is a graphically stunning narrative that’s part picture book, part movie… in which the pictures animate at your touch.”

The Oscar-winning film Morris Lessmore is the first world-class animated production to be made entirely in Louisiana. Shreveport-based Twin Engine Labs partnered with Moonbot to produce the iTunes app, which features an interactive game on every page. Louisiana’s film production and digital media tax credits and the state’s LED FastStart workforce solutions program supported the companies on the projects.

“Moonbot Studios is a great example of the digital entertainment and software development jobs that we want to create more of in Louisiana,” said Louisiana Secretary of Economic Development Stephen Moret. “We want to continue to grow our homegrown talent to further build this industry and attract additional business investment and creative, knowledge-based jobs for our state.”

Joyce, a Shreveport native, is one of the founding partners of Moonbot and, among other ventures, worked for Disney/Pixar in developing characters for such animated classics as Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. Oldenburg is a co-founder of Reel FX Creative Studios, where he specialized in design and special effects for film and TV. Lampton Enochs, who co-founded Louisiana Production Consultants in Shreveport, joined Joyce and Oldenburg in opening Moonbot Studios in the fall of 2010.

Moonbot Studios recently released another creative title. Numberlys, an animated storybook app with nods to King Kong, Flash Gordon, Metropolis and the Marx Brothers, presents a fanciful depiction of the origins of the alphabet in an experience that’s equal parts adventure, mystery, game and story.

Jan Berenstain, 88, co-created Berenstain Bears

Jan Berenstain, 88

Jan Berenstain, 88

Philadelphia native Jan Berenstain, writer and illustrator with her husband Stan of the preschool Berenstain Bears books and cartoons that have appealed to the young (and young at heart) for 50 years, died Friday. She was 88.

A longtime resident of Solebury in southeastern Pennsylvania, she suffered a severe stroke Thursday and died without regaining consciousness, son Mike said.

The Berenstain Bears inspired several animated productions, including TV specials that she and her husband created and wrote. The first, the NBC special The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree, was produced in 1979. Four other NBC seasonal specials, produced by Joseph Cates Productions, Perpetual Motion Pictures and Buzzco Productions, followed: The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw (1980), The Berenstain Bears’ Easter Surprise (1981), The Berenstain Bears’ Comic Valentine (1982) and The Berenstain Bears Play Ball (1983).

As well, the Bears gave birth to two Saturday morning cartoon series on TV. The first, which Jan Berenstain co-wrote, came from Southern Star and Hanna Barbera Australia, running for 28 episodes on CBS from 1984-85.

A season of PBS daily shows was created in 2002, produced by Canada’s Nelvana Limited and Agogo Entertainment. Jan Berenstain was executive producer of several episodes.

The human Berenstain family inspired the tales of Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear, and dealt with children’s concerns. The stories offered advice about dealing with visits to the dentist, summer camp, peer pressure, or a new brother or sister.

The Big Honey Hunt, the first Berenstain Bears book, was published in 1962. Over 300 titles have been released in 23 languages, most recently in Arabic and Icelandic.

Around 260 million copies of Berenstain Bears books came out since Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), then a children’s books editor at Random House, helped the earliest books get published.

“They say jokes don’t travel well, but family humor does. Family values is what we’re all about.” Jan Berenstain told the Associated Press last year.

Born on July 26, 1923, Janice Marian Grant met Stan — also 18, and also a native Philadelphian — on their first day at art school in 1941. Five years later, they married; they had two sons.

Son Mike, an illustrator, worked with his mother on the Berenstain Bears books in recent years. Writer Leo Berenstain, his older brother, works with the business aspect of the franchise.

Until her death, Jan Berenstain worked at her home studio in Bucks County, north of Philadelphia. The area helped inspire the books’ setting.

“It’s wonderful to do something you love for so many years,” she told AP in 2011. “Not everyone has that.”

Jan Berenstain was predeceased by her husband in 2005. She is survived by her sons and four grandchildren.

Duck Amuck (1949) – Merrie Melodies Theatrical Cartoon Series

Duck Amuck (1949) - Merrie Melodies Theatrical Cartoon

Duck Amuck (1949) - Merrie Melodies Theatrical Cartoon

CotD: Daffy Duck’s tour de force, “Duck Amuck” is one of his most memorable cartoons, and one of Chuck Jones’ greatest shorts.

Duck Amuck (1949) – Merrie Melodies Theatrical Cartoon Series

“Stand back, musketeers!” swordsman Daffy cries, surrounded by Dumasian scenery, credits and music. “They shall sample my blade!” But within a few thrusts and touches, Daffy notices that the background behind him has ended: “Hey, psst, whoever’s in charge here, the scenery, where’s the scenery?”

A paintbrush comes across the screen and puts down a farmyard setting. Daffy leaps back in his musketeer garb, realizes it’s inappropriate, and returns with overalls and hoe, then notices that the scenery has changed into a North Pole setting: “Would it be to much to ask if we could make up our minds, hmmm?” And so it goes. After changing from many classic scenes and gags, Daffy yells, “All right! Enough is enough! This is the final, the very, very last straw! Who is responsible for this? I demand that you show yourself! Who are you?” Pull back to reveal Bugs Bunny, seated by a live-action animator’s light table, admitting to the audience, “Gee, ain’t I a stinker?”-

Come see “Duck Amuck” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase

“Tom and Jerry” programming turns pornographic

Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry

Did a cat and mouse ever do anything like this?

When an Arlington, Texas mom’s young sons were viewing Tom and Jerry on The Cartoon Network, they suddenly saw more than they bargained for.

Rebekah Woodruff says that the boys, ages 4 and 7, had their eyes glued to the screen at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. The scene suddenly shifted, she alleges, to a pornographic movie.

“I heard the music change. And I heard my oldest say to his little brother, ‘Don’t watch this. I think it’s something bad,'” she recounted.

Dashing back to the living room, Mom saw graphic images of two women on the screen.

“We don’t have channels like that.”

Immediately, the mom asked her boys to turn around. She muted the sound and then looked at the remote to ensure they hadn’t somehow bought a pay-per-view movie.

She pushed the “information” button on the remote, she said. “And it says we’re watching Tom and Jerry, Cartoon Network, at 12:30.”

After pushing the “channel up” and “channel down” buttons, the channel returned to Tom and Jerry, but without the porn, she said.

“Most of the day, I’ve just held back tears,” she said. “I’m furious.”

Time Warner Cable, her cable company, apologized.

“We have our engineering team still looking into it,” said spokesman Jon Herrera said.

The problem doesn’t appear to have occurred across the system, as Woodruff’s complaint was the only one received by TWC, he added.

But Woodruff said she wants to know what was behind the snafu.

“I don’t need an ‘I’m sorry.’ I want them to be held accountable,” she said. “I can’t erase it from my kids’ minds. I can’t erase it from my mind.”

Picador Porky (1949) – Looney Tunes Theatrical Cartoon Series

Picador Porky

Picador Porky

CotD: An early Porky short, “Picador Porky” is Mel Blanc’s first appearance in a Warner Bros. short.

Picador Porky (1949) – Looney Tunes Theatrical Cartoon Series

Slumbering peacefully ‘neath the warm caresses of the noonday sun lies the sleepy little village of La Rosita.

It presents a scene of serene quietude and beauty as its inhabitants enjoy a midday siesta preceding the annual bullfight.

“The solitude is broken only by the occasional strains of a soft guitar.”

Stone broke, Porky and two gringo-dog buddies have hoboed to a Mexican town, apparently on a drinking-binge vacation. They stumble (and we do mean “stumble”) across a sign about the annual bullfighting contest; the winner will receive 1,000 pesos. Porky and his two pals decide to cheat their way to the money by renting a bull costume and a matador outfit in order to win the prize. The plan is to substitute two of them in a bull costume for the real thing, with Porky fighting off the phony bull and then splitting the loot. But the old switcheroo takes place instead. In the bullring, it’s quite a while before Porky realizes that it’s not his friends in disguise, but a real (and very mean) bull whom he’s been out there abusing for the audience!

Come see “Picador Porky” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase

Oscar Goes to Rango, Flying Books

Oscar Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Oscar Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

In a night of many surprises, the Academy Awards have given the Oscar two surprise films for animated films. In the competition for Best Animated film, Rango pulled out the win over two foreign films, and two from DreamWorks Animation. And for Best Animated Short, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore from Moonbot Studios took the little gold knight.

Rango was able to pull out from the pack, most notably from the pair of DreamWorks features (and sequels or spin-offs) Puss In Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2. Rango also beat out two foreign features, Une Vie De Chat (A Cat In Paris) from France and  Chico & Rita from Spain. Gore Verbinski, the director of Rango, also directed the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, and Rango star Johnny Depp appeared in all four Pirates films. This is the first Feature Animated Film win for Nickelodeon Movies and distributor Paramount Pictures.

Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation), award-winning author/illustrator William Joyce and co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a hybrid style of animation for their winner The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Produced by Moonbot Studios, this short beat out a pair from the National Film Board of Canada like Sunday and Wild Life. PIXAR has an entry with La Luna, and the final nominee was A Morning Stroll from Studio aka.

Man Or Muppet“, the song from The Muppets won for Best Original Song, in a field of only two original songs. This category was a sure thing for an animated film; the only other original song “Real In Rio” was from Rio from Blue Sky Studios.

“The Rabbi’s Cat” named best animation at Cesars

Le Chat du Rabbin

Le Chat du Rabbin

Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux’s The Rabbi’s Cat” (“Le Chat du rabbin“) was named best animated film Friday at the Césars, France’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Designer Joann Sfar had made a 3D adaptation of Le Chat du Rabbin, a comic first released in 2002, which eventually grew to five books in at least eight languages.

Last year, Sfar won a César for the year’s best first film for bringing to the screen the “heroic” life of singer Serge Gainsbourg.

Delesvaux thanked his wife and grandmother for “speaking all the time about Algeria.”

“If it were the grandmothers who taught about the Maghreb, it would be a little less disgusting,” he quipped.

Released in both 2D and 3D, the movie was based on three volumes about the adventures of the titular cat. It recounted Algiers in the 1920s and the life of Rabbi Sfar through the eyes and ears of his cat, who acquired the power of speech.

Michel Hazanavicius’s black and white silent homage The Artist was named best picture. It also won for best director (Hazanavicius), actress (Berenice Bejo), original music (Ludovic Bource), photography (Guillaume Schiffman) and backgrounds (Laurence Bennett).

Mississippi Hare (1949) – Looney Tunes Theatrical Cartoon Series

Mississipp Hare

Mississipp Hare

CotD: While a popular Bugs Bunny short, “Mississippi Hare” was one of 12 pulled from rotation by the Cartoon Network for its 2001 “June Bugs” marathon.

Mississippi Hare (1949) – Looney Tunes Theatrical Cartoon Series

Bugs stows away on the riverboat “The Southern Star.” He plays poker against riverboat gambler Colonel Shuffle. Bugs, with seven aces, beats Colonel Shuffle, who has only six.

Come see “Mississippi Hare” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase