Monthly Archives: October 2012

Russell Means, 72, Was Pocahontas Actor, Activist

Russell Means

Russell Means

Native American activist and actor Russell Means, the voice of Chief Powhatan — the title character’s father — in the 1995 Disney film Pocahontas, died early Monday at his ranch in Porcupine on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, his family said in a statement. He was 72.

The former leader of the American Indian Movement was diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer in August 2011. He received a combination of traditional Native American and conventional modern medical therapies at an Arizona clinic. Eventually, the cancer spread to his tongue, lymph nodes and lungs, friends said.

“Our dad and husband now walks among our ancestors,” the family statement said.

Pocahontas became Disney’s third highest-selling video ever. Means also voiced Powhatan in the 1998 direct-to-video Disney release Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.

He voiced both the Chief Sentry and the Shaman in the 2008 direct-to-DVD movie Turok: Son of Stone. Means was a guest actor in the 1997 Duckman episode “Role With It,” in which Duckman takes his family on an educational trip to a “genuine Indian reservation” — which turns out to be a casino.

Means narrated Trevor Jones’ 2010 animated theatrical short The Sasquatch and the Girl.

He was described by the Los Angeles Times as the most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

A former Libertarian Party candidate for United States president, he lost the nomination to Congressman Ron Paul at the party’s 1987 national convention.

Russell Charles Means was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of South Dakota’s Oglala Sioux on November 10, 1939. He was the eldest son of Hank Means, an Oglala Sioux, and Theodora (Feather) Means, a full-blooded Yankton Sioux.

Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, his family moved to California, where he graduated from San Leandro High in 1958 and continued his formal education at Oakland City College and Arizona State. Russell’s commitment to uplift the plight of his people escalated when he served as director of Cleveland’s American Indian Center. It was there that he met Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, and embarked upon a relationship that would rocket them both into national prominence.

He had been an activist for Native American rights since the 1960s, when he began protesting college and professional sports teams’ use of Indian images as mascots. Means described these as demeaning caricatures of his people.

In 1968, he joined the AIM, soon rising to be one of the group’s best-known leaders. In 1972, he took part in an occupation of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in Washington, D.C. The following year, he led the 72-day standoff with federal authorities at Wounded Knee on Pine Ridge.

Arrested many times during his years of protest, and was jailed on several occasions.

Means joined “The Longest Walk” in 1978 to protest a new tide of anti-Indian legislation including the forced sterilization of Indian women. Following the walk, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution saying that national policy was to protect the rights of Indians, “to believe, express and exercise their traditional religions, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.”

In the early 2000s, he ran several times for president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, but was defeated each time. Means became an actor starting as Daniel Day-Lewis’ adopted father, Chief Chingachgook, in the 1992 blockbuster Last of the Mohicans. He appeared in over 30 films and TV shows productions, including Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994) and Pathfinder (2007). In other major feature films, he had lead roles as a chief in John Candy’s comedy Wagons East and as the ghost of Jim Thorpe in Wind Runner.

He also worked in a television documentary for HBO, Paha Sapa; and Indian Father and Son, a pilot he created. He wrote two albums of protest music, Electric Warrior and The Radical. On the technological side, he starred in a CD-ROM, Under A Killing Moon.

He split his time between San Jose, New Mexico; his ranch on the Pine Ridge Sioux Indian reservation; and his office in Santa Monica, California. He took pride in having instituted programs for the betterment of his people: notably, the Porcupine Health Clinic (the only non-government funded clinic in Indian Country) and KILI radio, the first Indian-owned radio station.

One of his principal goals was the establishment of a “Total Immersion School,” based on a concept created by the Maori people of New Zealand, where children are immersed in the language, culture, science, music and storytelling of their own people.

Russell Means was predeceased by his brother Ted. He was married five times — the last to his widow, Pearl. He had 10 children.

The family has not yet finalized funeral plans. However, fellow AIM founder Dennis Banks said he understands that Means will be cremated, and that his life will be celebrated over four days of ceremonies that probably will begin Thursday.

Ruby-Spears Color Stylist Geri Rochon Dies at 62

 

Ruby-Spears Productions

Ruby-Spears Productions


Geri Rochon, a color stylist at Ruby-Spears and Kookanooga from 1986 to 1994, died May 17. She was 62.

She was a main title supervisor and color key supervisor for the TV series The Angry Beavers from 1997 to 1999.

In 1985, she was a key color assistant and effects assistant for the animated feature film Starchaser: The Legend of Orin.

Rochon was a color key artist on the 1986 series Lazer Tag Academy.

Born Geri Linda Rochon in 1950, she lived in Agoura Hills, California from 1985 to 1987. She had been living in Thousand Oaks, California since 1996.

Noodle Fish Catches Warsaw Film Festival Animation Award

Noodle Fish

Noodle Fish

South Korean director Kim Jin-man’s “Noodle Fish” was named Best Animated Short in the Short Films Competition program at the 29th Warsaw Film Festival.

In the 10-minute film, also produced by Kim, a naive little fish begins his journey to the world outside the water as he thinks that it’s the only way to become a grown-up. One day, he happens to hear the secret of the world and takes on the challenge of freedom. What is the world outside the water like?

Kim was born in 1975. After graduating from Hongik University with a BFA in sculpture and visual design, he received an MFA from the Art & Technology Chungang University. He has been making stop-motion animations with various objects at the B01 Studio.

Short Films Competition jury members were Julia Kolberger of Poland, Will Anderson of Britain and Matthieu Darras of France.

The 10-day Warsaw Film Festival ended Saturday.

Silver Surfer actor Bernard Behrens Dies at 85

Bernard Behrens

Bernard Behrens

British-born Canadian theatre, TV and film actor Bernard “Bunny” Behrens, the voice of Nietre in the Marvel Enterprises/Saban Entertainment series Silver Surfer, died September 19 in Perth, Ontario, just shy of his 86th birthday.

Silver Surfer aired on FOX in the United States and Teletoon in Canada. Harlan Ellison was one of its writers.

Behrens also provided additional voices in 1981’s Smurfs.

He voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi in the National Public Radio dramatizations of Star Wars (1981), The Empire Strikes Back (1983) and Return of the Jedi (1996).

In 1992, he won the Gemini — the Canadian equivalent of the Emmy — for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series in connection with his work in Saying Goodbye. He won a 1995 Gemini for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for the TV-movie Coming of Age.

Behrens received Gemini nominations in 1986 for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor for the TV-movie Turning to Stone, and in 2005 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role (Dramatic Series) for This Is Wonderland.

As a boy in Depression-era London, the city of his birth, Behrens dreamed from age 7 of being a Hollywood actor. He escaped the privations of poverty when he sneaked into movie theatres to live out the fantasy world of Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Irene Dunne and Myrna Loy, a world he eventually immersed himself in for more than half a century.

As a child evacuee during the Second World War, he was forced to live by his wits with a foster family, an experience he never forgot and which often haunted him throughout his life.

His path took him everywhere from the Bristol Old Vic to Canadian Players Tours in the 1950s and 1960s, the TV and radio services of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in their golden age; Toronto’s Crest Theatre; Halifax’s Neptune (where he and his wife were founding members under the direction of Leon Major); the Stratford and Shaw Festivals; and a decade in Hollywood, where his appearances in 1970s series from Dallas, Starsky and Hutch and The Bionic Woman to Columbo and Marcus Welby, MD, among many others, still grace late-night TV.

Behrens appeared in hundreds of films and TV shows, and always generously shared humorous anecdotes about his work with folks in the business.

Diagnosed with dementia four years ago, he had his final gigs as the much-loved Young Farley in the Shaw Festival production of Belle Moral, along with a brief appearance in the TV program Living in Your Car.

His final years were spent in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and, for the last year of his life, in Perth, where he was cared for in Lanark Lodge. Also in Perth, he met the actors and enjoyed a performance at the Classic Theatre Festival, run by his daughter-in-law, Laurel Smith. The last show he attended was a production of Mary, Mary in Perth, in which he starred 50 years ago in its Canadian premiere at the Neptune Theatre.

His picture (alongside that of fellow Canadian actor Ted Follows) graced the Festival lobby throughout the summer.

When Behrens suffered a major stroke a month before his death, an attendant who recognized him asked if he used to be an actor. Despite difficulty talking and moving, he responded, with his trademark tongue and attitude, “I still AM an actor!”

Bunny, as he insisted on being called, was married to Canadian actress Deborah Cass (nee Bernice Katz) for almost 50 years until her death in 2004. He is survived by sons Mark, of Dallas, Texas; Matthew, of Perth; and Adam, of London; and by grandchildren Taylor, Spenser and Kate.

A celebration of the lives of Bunny Behrens and Deborah Cass is being planned, with details to be announced soon.

Arrangements are in the care of Blair & Son Funeral Directors, Perth, (613) 267-3765.

A Facebook tribute page was planned.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations (tax-deductible) be made to the Classic Theatre Festival (www.classictheatre.ca at the Donate Now button).

Dementia Tale Wins for Animated Short in San Pedro

The Reality Clock

The Reality Clock

Amanda Tasse’s “The Reality Clock,” in which a watchmaker searching for his lost clock loses himself in memory, was named Best Animated Short at this year’s San Pedro International Film Festival (SPIFFest).

The Reality Clock” is an experimental animated portrait of an elderly watchmaker as he struggles to accept the influence of early-stage dementia on his identity and sense of time. Shot in full stereoscopic 3D, using time-lapse photography, pixelation, live action and stop-motion animation, the film immerses the viewer in the internal experience of the character, expressed through metaphors of a clock, house, and morphing landscapes.

After confusing a simple memory evaluation, The Reality Comprehension Clock Test, the character misplaces his favorite pocket watch. As he embarks on a journey for the missing watch, memories overlap with present reality, distorting his sense of time and place. As he grasps for his identity, “Reality Clock” questions who and what the raw essence of a person is when stripped bare of new memories and rational lucidity.

The inspiration for “The Reality Clock” grew out of Tasse’s conversations with elderly patients with dementia when she volunteered for a hospice organization from 2005 to 2007. Realizing that most films portray dementia from the point-of-view of the caregiver, Tasse intended to explore what the experience might feel like for the patient.

She used varying cinematic techniques to emphasize the character’s subjective reality and play with metaphors inherent in the materials — a subtly animated puppet in a dollhouse juxtaposed with stuttering photographic and live-action memories. She decided to create the film in 3D after having read an autobiographical account by an author with early-stage dementia who described some of his hallucinations and memories as having the quality of depth associated with 3D pictures. Tasse intended to experiment with how stereoscopic 3D could be used as an additional art-design element to support immersive experimental and emotional storytelling.

The inaugural San Pedro International Film Festival screened 34 films from around the world, including Switzerland, Croatia, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the United States — the last being the source for “Reality Clock.”

The inaugural festival ran at the Warner Grand Theatre, Terrace Cinemas and California Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

“The community support and turnout for SPIFFest exceeded our expectations,” said executive director Ziggy Mrkich. “We were extremely proud of the extent and diversity of the program, and are looking forward to an even bigger and better SPIFFest 2013.”

“San Pedro has served as a backdrop for many major film and TV projects, and the community has always been a great partner when it comes to welcoming production to its neighborhoods,” said Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission. “It’s only fitting that San Pedro now has a film festival to call its own.”

Renee Fleming Singing for Rise of the Guardians Cartoon

Rise Of The Guardians

Rise Of The Guardians

Acclaimed soprano Renee Fleming has performed the original song “Still Dream” on the soundtrack for the upcoming Rise of the Guardians, DreamWorks Animation announced.

The film also features a score by four-time Oscar-nominated and Grammy-winning composer Alexandre Desplat. Varese Sarabande will release the soundtrack November 13, preceding the film’s nationwide release November 21.

The original end-credit song “Still Dream” was written and produced by Desplat, with lyrics by Rise of the Guardians screenwriter, Grammy nominee and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Lindsay-Abaire. The complete score, recorded at the historic Abbey Road in London and Air Studios, was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and features choral work by London Voices. To create the music and lyrics for the original song, Desplat and Lindsay-Abaire drew upon the film’s heroic and sweeping story as inspiration.

“There is much more music in Rise of the Guardians than is found in the average live-action film,” says Desplat, who conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in the recording of his original compositions. “The goal with the score was to emphasize every moment of joy, sadness and soul so that audiences would be able to dive with the characters into their worlds. The main theme — conveying all the wonder of children’s dreams and their beliefs — became the melody on which I wrote the song.”

Renee Fleming

Renee Fleming

“This is a truly beautiful film and I am honored to perform ‘Still Dream,’ which serves as the perfect finale for Alexandre’s incredible film score,” says Fleming.

One of the most beloved and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, soprano Renee Fleming captivates audiences with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, and compelling stage presence. Known as “the people’s diva” and named 2012 Female Singer of the Year by the German Echo awards, she continues to grace the world’s greatest opera stages and concert halls, now extending her reach to include other musical forms and media.

Fleming is a three-time Grammy Award winner. Last June, in a historic first, she sang on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Four-time Academy Award nominee Desplat is one of the most coveted film composers in the world today, noted for his creative collaborations with some of the world’s top filmmakers. Desplat has scored a wide range of acclaimed films and received Oscar nominations for his music in Fantastic Mr. Fox, The King’s Speech, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Queen. Desplat received the Golden Globe for his original score for The Painted Veil and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning one for The King’s Speech.

Lindsay-Abaire is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, screenwriter, lyricist and librettist. He was nominated for a Grammy Award and two Tonys for his work on Shrek The Musical: Best Score, and Best Book of a Musical.

His most recent play, Good People, premiered on Broadway last season, and was awarded the 2011 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, The Horton Foote Prize, The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award and two Tony nominations. His previous play, Rabbit Hole, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, five Tony nominations and the Spirit of America Award.

In addition to his work in theatre, his screen credits include his film adaptation of Rabbit Hole, as well as the upcoming feature Rise of the Guardians.

Rise of the Guardians is an epic adventure that tells the story of a group of heroes — each with extraordinary abilities. When an evil spirit known as Pitch lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children all over the world. The film stars Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Chris Pine and Hugh Jackman.

Rise of the Guardians is directed by Peter Ramsey, written by Lindsay-Abaire, produced by Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein, and executive produced by William Joyce and Guillermo del Toro.

Katsuhiro Ôtomo Getting Lifetime Achievement Award For Animation

Katsuhiro Otomo

Katsuhiro Ôtomo

PLATFORM, the internationally acclaimed animation festival in Los Angeles, will present renowned Japanese artist Katsuhiro Ôtomo with a Lifetime Achievement Award at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, October 27.

The evening will begin with an exclusive screening of Ôtomo’s new short film Hi No Yôjin (Combustible), followed by a conversation with animation historian Jerry Beck and then the award ceremony.

“It is an incredibly great honor for PLATFORM to welcome Katsuhiro Ôtomo to the United States after so many years’ absence,” said festival director Irene Kotlarz. “We are delighted to present him with our first Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of his unique and original contribution to the art of animation. In recognizing an artist whose origins are deeply rooted in manga, PLATFORM continues its polemical mission to break boundaries into other art forms and embrace a concept of animation that represents the widest possible range of influences.”

The PLATFORM International Animation Festival takes place from October 26 to 28. In collaboration with CalArts and the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), PLATFORM will showcase exciting and innovative new animated films and talent while also celebrating animation’s heritage through special screenings and informative panel discussions.

Ôtomo is internationally recognized as one of the leading creative forces in modern Japanese anime and manga. Ôtomo began his career writing and drawing manga in the 1970s, then entered Japan’s animation industry as a character designer in the early 1980s.

His epic story Akira was published as manga from 1982 to 1988 and then adapted into a feature film released in 1988, which Otomo also wrote and directed. Akira has become a classic example of science fiction and a game-changing work of anime, inspiring such modern day Hollywood filmmakers as Sam Raimi, Chris Nolan, and Andy and Lana Wachowski.

In 1987, Ôtomo made several short films that were included in the compilation features  Robotto Kânibaru (Robot Carnival) and Neo-Tokyo (Manie-Manie). He wrote the screenplay adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis (2001), and he has also directed several live-action movies. In 2005, Ôtomo was awarded the honor of Chevalier, Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Otomo continues to write and draw comics and to direct his own animated features, including Memorîzu (Memories) (1995),  Suchîmubôi (Steamboy) (2004) and, most recently, Hi No Yôjin (Combustible) (2012).

The story of Hi No Yôjin takes place in the city of Edo in the 18th century. Owaka, the daughter of a merchant family, and her childhood friend Matsukichi are drawn to each other, but Matsukichi has been disowned by his family, and is working for the city fire brigade. Meanwhile, negotiations begin for the arrangement of Owaka’s marriage. Unable to let go of her thoughts of Matsukichi, Owaka’s mad emotions stir up a massive inferno that razes Edo. By chance encounter, the two meet again amidst the fires.

An epic spectacle, Hi No Yôjin is ignited by the traditional style of Japanese painting as inspiration, and its combination of hand-drawn and 3D CG animation fosters a fresh and original visual expression for the film.

Funded in part with generous support from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, PLATFORM is honored to have additional support from its founding sponsor, Cartoon Network, as well as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disney Television Animation and ASIFA-Hollywood.

REDCAT is located at 631 West 2nd Street in downtown Los Angeles at the corner of Hope Street, inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. Parking is available in the Walt Disney Concert Hall parking structure and in adjacent lots.

Tickets for the Ôtomo evening program are $20 for the general public, $16 for members. Tickets for all other PLATFORM programs are $10 for the general public, $8 for members. Discounts are available for multi-program purchases.

Tickets may be purchased by calling (213) 237.2800, at www.redcat.org, or in person at the REDCAT Box Office on the corner of 2nd and Hope Streets (30 minutes free parking with validation). Box Office Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and two hours prior to curtain.

PLATFORM is part of the ongoing Jack H. Skirball “Film at REDCAT” series of screenings and presentations by independent film and video makers from around the world. For more information, visit www.redcat.org/category/redcat-event-type/film-video.

Bob & Fox Flipping Burgers For a Fourth Season

Bob's Burgers

Bob’s Burgers

FOX is going back to the grill for a fourth season of Bob’s Burgers, announcing twenty-two new episodes for next year barely two shows into this year’s third season.

Created by Loren Bouchard, the show received an Emmy nomination earlier this year, and has been a strong part of the network’s Animation Domination line-up. The first two episodes of the third season have shown strong gains in viewers, up over a million viewers from last season.

A third-generation restaurateur, Bob Belcher runs Bob’s Burgers with the help of his wife and their three kids. Bob has big ideas about burgers, condiments and sides, but only a few thoughts on customer service and business management. Despite his greasy counters, lousy location and occasionally spotty service, Bob is convinced his burgers speak for themselves.

The show is animated by Bento Box Entertainment for 20th Century Fox Television. It premiered on Fox in January 2011. Have you seen the show? What do you think of it?

Frankenweenie Collects $4.9 Million Overseas

Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie

Tim Burton’s comedy-horror animated movie “Frankenweenie” opened in nine overseas countries over the weekend to take in $4.9 million.

Directed, co-produced and co-written by Burton, Disney’s Frankenweenie has made $5.3 million abroad so far. It’s grossed $22 million in the United States and Canada over two weekends.

Meanwhile, Sony Animation’s 3D Hotel Transylvania opened in second place in the United Kingdom, gathering $2.8 million at 704 locations. This past weekend, it drew $13.7 million at 3,669 screens in 24 countries. So far, Hotel Transylvania has grossed $49.3 million abroad.

DreamWorks Animation/Paramount’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted remains No. 1 in Austria and Germany. In its second weekend in Germany, it took in $4.9 million at 742 locations.

Overall, Madagascar 3 made $10.1 million from 2,530 screens in 32 countries this weekend for a cumulative foreign gross total of $465 million. The movie opens this week in Britain.

The Fox blockbuster Ice Age: Continental Drift grossed $3.3 million at 721 theaters in four countries this weekend, raising the cumuluative foreign gross to $707.4 million.

This week, Universal’s ParaNorman opens in four countries, including Turkey and Uruguay.

[Via The Hollywood Reporter -- www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/foreign-box-office-taken-2-frankenweenie-looper-ted-378856]

John Clive was John Lennon in Yellow Submarine

John Clive

John Clive

Actor John Clive, the voice of John Lennon in the 1968 Beatles cartoon movie Yellow Submarine, died after a short illness, his family said Monday. He was 79.

The star of such movies at A Clockwork Orange, The Pink Panther Strikes Again and the original 1969 version of The Italian Job, he became an international best-selling author.

The decision to cast Clive as Lennon was controversially kept quiet after the Beatles opted against providing their own voices in all but the live-action finale to Yellow Submarine.

Born in North London on January 6, 1933, Clive appeared in over a hundred film and TV performances. Legendary film critic Dylis Powell picked up on him early in his career as the unctuous, ritzy car manager, divesting Michael Caine of some of his ill-gotten gains in The Italian Job.

Other films included A Clockwork Orange. He was in Carry On Abroad.

On TV, he appeared notably in Wear a Very Big Hat, directed by Ken Loach, and in The Sweeney and Rising Damp twice. Then he starred in the comedy-drama series Perils of Pendragon for BBC TV. Then he took the lead as Professor Sommerby in the children’s series Roberts Robots for ITV.

More television series followed. He played the Barry Fitzgerald part in How Green Was My Valley for BBC TV. He then did another series, The Government Inspector, again for BBC TV.

He was Hinks in The History of Mr Polly and the Reverend Boon in Tropic for ATV.

He played Mr Dumby in Lady Windermere’s Fan for BBC TV and more recently appeared in Casualty and Young Indiana Jones. He was in the award-winning comedy series Ten Percenters. He also did a feature film, RPM, directed by Ian Sharp.

But there was another side of his work that wasn’t often connected.

His comic talent as a character actor was unusual in that it contrasted sharply with his talent as a writer. He wrote the international best-seller KG200 and such other fact-based fiction as as The Last Liberator, Barossa and Broken Wings.

Clive lived in Spain and in London with his wife Bryony. She is Canadian and they met in a play. In the play, he was a psychiatrist and she was one of his patients, who believed she was Marlene Dietrich. At the end, they were supposed to fall in love. And that is where fiction became reality.

John Clive is survived by a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Hannah, from his previous marriage. Bryony has a son, Deane, from hers.

Geoffrey Hughes, the voice of Paul McCartney in Yellow Submarine, died July 27 at 68.