Monthly Archives: November 2012

Princess Mononoke Actress Mitsuko Mori Dead at 92

Mitsuko Mori

Mit­suko Mori

Actress Mit­suko Mori, the voice of Hii-sama in the orig­i­nal Japan­ese ver­sion of Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 film Princess Mononoke, died Sat­ur­day at a Tokyo hos­pi­tal. She was 92.

She died due to heart fail­ure caused by pneumonia.

Mori was nom­i­nated for the Award of the Japan­ese Acad­emy for Best Actress in con­nec­tion with her lead­ing role as Yuriko Hiro­sawa (The Authoress) in 2000’s Kawa no nagare no you ni. She received the Order of Cul­ture and the People’s Honor Award.

Mori por­trayed the main char­ac­ter in Horoki over 2,000 times. In addi­iton, she played the main role in the pop­u­lar TV drama Jikan desu yo (It’s time).

She was born Mitsu Murakami in Kyoto on May 9, 1923.

Jill Sanford Named Vice-President at Nickelodeon Animation

Nickelodeon

Nick­elodeon

Nick­elodeon has named Jill San­ford vice-president of ani­ma­tion devel­op­ment for the Nick­elodeon Group.

San­ford will be respon­si­ble for all aspects of devel­op­ment from con­cept to pilot, includ­ing all cre­ative and pro­duc­tion. The announce­ment was made by Jenna Boyd, the Nick­elodeon Group’s senior vice-president of ani­ma­tion devel­op­ment, to whom San­ford will report.

Jill’s cre­ative exper­tise and proven track record of over­see­ing ani­mated hits makes her a ter­rific addi­tion to the Nick­elodeon ani­ma­tion team,” said Boyd. “Her keen eye for iden­ti­fy­ing unique ideas and tal­ent will be a huge asset as we con­tinue to grow our hit Nick ani­ma­tion brand.”

In her new role, San­ford will research and develop show ideas, and will over­see scripts, cre­ative, legal, cast­ing and staffing for pilots. Addi­tion­ally, she will help over­see the com­edy shorts pro­gram and part­ner with Nick’s short form devel­op­ment team to find and shep­herd the next gen­er­a­tion of ani­mated hits.

Prior to join­ing Nick­elodeon, San­ford held sev­eral posi­tions dur­ing her nine-year tenure at The Walt Dis­ney Com­pany, where she most recently served as the direc­tor of orig­i­nal series for Dis­ney Tele­vi­sion Ani­ma­tion. She was the lead cur­rent series exec­u­tive for Dis­ney Channel’s ani­ma­tion series Phineas and Ferb, Fish Hooks and other projects in development.

Prior to mov­ing to Dis­ney Tele­vi­sion Ani­ma­tion in 2008, San­ford worked in both devel­op­ment and cur­rent series for live-action and ani­mated series for Dis­ney Chan­nel. She also held posi­tions at Fox Sports Net and com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion com­pany Hun­gry Man. San­ford earned a Bach­e­lor of Arts degree in Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture and cul­ture from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Los Ange­les. She was also named to Mul­ti­chan­nel News’ list of “40 under 40″ in 2011.

Lucille Bliss, 96, Was Cartoon Voice of Crusader Rabbit, Smurfette

Lucille Bliss

Lucille Bliss

Voice actress Lucille Bliss, who por­trayed the title char­ac­ter of the first made-for-TV car­toon series, Cru­sader Rab­bit (1949–51), died Thurs­day night, ani­ma­tor Dave Nimitz said. She was 96.

She had been liv­ing in Mesa Verde Res­i­den­tial Care Cen­ter in Costa Mesa, California.

Bliss voiced Smur­fette, the only female Smurf, from 1981 to 1989 in the Hanna-Barbera series Smurfs, as well as the 1987 TV spe­cial ‘Tis the Sea­son to Be Smurfy. Other Smur­fette appear­ances were in the TV-movies The Smurfs Christ­mas Spe­cial and The Smurfs Spring­time Spe­cial (both 1982), My Smurfy Valen­tine (1983), and The Smurfic Games (1984).

For Dis­ney, she por­trayed step­sis­ter Anas­ta­sia in Cin­derella (1950), Sun­flower and Turnip in Alice in Won­der­land (1951), and the Kanine Krunchie Com­mer­cial Singer in 101 Dal­ma­tians (1961). Other roles in car­toon films were Mrs. Fitzgib­bons in Don Bluth Pro­duc­tions’ The Secret of NIMH (1982) and the Pigeon Lady in Blue Sky’s Robots (2005).

Also at Dis­ney, she nar­rated “Story of Thumper,” “Story of the White Rab­bit” and “Story of Grandpa Bunny,” three sto­ries on the Dis­ney album Peter Cot­ton­tail and Other Funny Bun­nies.

Her other reg­u­lar TV series roles included Snoopy in H-B’s The Space Kidettes (1966), Queen Slugga in Ewoks (1986–87), and Ms. Bit­ters in Invader ZIM (2001).

Over the 1950s, Bliss was heard in sev­eral the­atri­cal Warner Bros. and MGM the­atri­cal car­toon shorts. Though uncred­ited, she was Suzanne in Friz Freleng’s A Kid­dies Kitty (1955), the Lit­tle Girl and Mama in A Wag­gily Tale (1958), Jerry’s lit­tle mouse friend Tuffy in 1958’s MGM car­toon Robin Hood­winked, and the Lep­rechaun in another 1958 MGM release, Droopy Lep­rechaun.

On TV, she guested as Hugo and Scout in the 1961 The Flint­stones episode “The Good Scout,” The Librar­ian in the 2005 Duck Dodgers episode “All in the Crime Fam­ily,” and Yagoda (aka Yugoda) in the 2005 Avatar: The Last Air­ben­der episodes “The Water­bend­ing Mas­ter” and “The Siege of the North Pt. 1.”

Bliss por­trayed Bamm Bamm Rub­ble in the 1977 TV-movie A Flint­stone Christ­mas and Dusty in the 1978 TV-movie The Flint­stones Lit­tle Big League. Other TV-movie and TV spe­cial roles included Miss Witch in The Great Bear Scare (1983); and Lick­ety Page and other char­ac­ters in the ABC Week­end Spe­cials Cap’n O.G. Readmore’s Jack and the Beanstalk (1985), Cap’n O.G. Read­more Meets Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Cap’n O.G. Readmore’s Puss in Boots and Cap’n O.G. Read­more Meets Red Rid­ing Hood (both 1988).

She was in the voice casts of the two-part 1972 spe­cial Oliver and the Art­ful Dodger, released as an install­ment of The ABC Sat­ur­day Super­star Movie; the 1975 TV-movie The Tiny Tree. Bliss was also in the 1979 TV-movie Casper the Friendly Ghost: He Ain’t Scary, He’s Our Brother (aka Casper Saves Hal­loween).

Bliss por­trayed Quinby in the 2007 the­atri­cal car­toon short Up-In-Down Town, and also was heard in the the­atri­cal shorts Hug Me (1981) and Betty Boop’s Hol­ly­wood Mys­tery (1989)

In the 2005 video short Blue Har­vest Days (reti­tled Who Saves the Vil­lage?), she voiced Bear Brat.

Born in New York City on March 31, 1916, Bliss moved to San Fran­cisco in the 1950s. There, she hosted ABC affil­i­ate KRON-TV’s The Happy Birth­day To You Show, a live local kids’ pro­gram, from 1950 to 1957.

For her work in Cin­derella, Bliss received the For­mer Child Star Life­time Achieve­ment Award at the 1999 Young Artist Awards. At the Annie Awards, she won the Win­sor McCay award for life­time achieve­ment in 2000.

TV Series Director Margaret Nichols Dies at 82

Ani­ma­tor and direc­tor Mar­garet Nichols, an exec­u­tive board mem­ber of The Ani­ma­tion Guild from 1980 to 1985, died Novem­ber 5. She was 82.

From 1955 until 1993, she worked for Warner Bros., Dis­ney, UPA, Fleis­cher, Snow­ball, Patin, TV Spots, Cre­ston, Eagle, Hanna-Barbera, Mar­vel, Uni­ver­sal and Graz Entertainment.

She was also known as Mar­garet Flo­res Nichols and Mar­garet Grewell.

Nichols directed the TV series Trans­form­ers (1985–86); The Glo Friends, Potato Head Kids, InHu­manoids and Moon Dream­ers (all 1986); My Lit­tle Pony ‘n Friends (1986–87); and Frag­gle Rock (1987).

She served as an ani­ma­tion direc­tor for the series Mup­pet Babies (1985–88), Defend­ers of the Earth (1986), Space­cats and Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars! (both 1991), Tom & Jerry Kids Show and The Addams Fam­ily (both 1992), The Pirates of Dark Water (1992–93), and Droopy: Mas­ter Detec­tive (1993). In addi­tion, she was ani­ma­tion direc­tor of the TV-movies Solar­man (1986), Pryde of the X-Men (1989) and I Yabba-Dabba Do! (1993), along with the 1986 the­atri­cal films The Trans­form­ers: The Movie and My Lit­tle Pony: The Movie and the 1987 video G.I. Joe: The Movie.

As an ani­ma­tor, Nichols worked on the series The Peb­bles and Bamm-Bamm Show (1971); The Flint­stone Com­edy Hour (1972); Jean­nie and Speed Buggy (both 1973); These Are the Days and Par­tridge Fam­ily 2200 AD (both 1974); The New Tom & Jerry Show (1975); The Mumbly Car­toon Show and The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour (both 1976); The All-New Super Friends Hour and C B Bears (both 1977); Scooby’s All Star Laff-A-Lympics (1977–78); Jana of the Jun­gle, Chal­lenge of the Super­Friends and Dyno­mutt Dog Won­der (all 1978); Godzilla (1978–79); The World’s Great­est Super­Friends, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo and Casper and the Angels (all 1979;) Trol­lkins and The Kwicky Koala Show (both 1981); Smurfs (1981–84); Joke­book, Shirt Tales and Pac-Man (all 1982); and The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show and The Char­lie Brown and Snoopy Show (both 1983).

Also, she was an ani­ma­tor on the 1974 ABC After­school Spe­cial Cyrano, along with the ABC Week­end Spe­cials The Puppy Saves the Cir­cus (1981) and Miss Switch to the Res­cue and Bun­nic­ula, the Vam­pire Rab­bit (both 1982). She ani­mated the TV shorts and TV-movies Clerow Wilson’s Great Escape (1974), The White Seal (1975), A Flint­stone Christ­mas (1977), Christ­mas Comes to PacLand (1982), Is This Good­bye, Char­lie Brown? (1983) and It’s Flash­bea­gle, Char­lie Brown (1984), in addi­tion to the 1987 the­atri­cal movie Rock Odyssey.

A key assis­tant ani­ma­tor on the 1973 movie Charlotte’s Web, Nichols was an assis­tant ani­ma­tor on Who Framed Roger Rab­bit and Disney’s Oliver & Com­pany (both 1988). She was a char­ac­ter ani­ma­tor on the 1982 the­atri­cal film Heidi’s Song and a guest ani­ma­tor on Chuck Jones’ 1975 TV-movie Yan­kee Doo­dle Cricket.

Nichols was a sequence direc­tor on the TV series Robotix (1985), G.I. Joe (1985–86), Jem (1985–88), Trans­form­ers (1986–87) and The Lit­tle Wiz­ards (1987), as well as the 1985 video Big­foot and the Mus­cle Machines and TV-movie The GLO Friends Save Christmas.

Her first screen credit was as a lay­out artist for the 1970 TV-movie Uncle Sam Magoo. Nichols was a back­ground and lay­out artist for the 1971 musi­cal film Shin­bone Alley.

At Dis­ney, Nichols was a key clean-up artist for the movie The Black Caul­dron (1985), and a char­ac­ter key for The Lit­tle Mer­maid (1989) and The Res­cuers Down Under (1990). She was a tim­ing direc­tor and sheet timer for X-Men (1992–94), and a tim­ing direc­tor for the 1994 TV series The Tick.

Hotel Transylvania to Open Again With 2015 Sequel

Hotel Transylvania 2

Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia 2

Sony Pic­tures Ani­ma­tion will release a sequel to sleeper Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia, said an unnamed spokesman for the stu­dio. Set for release in 2015, the movie is ten­ta­tively titled Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia 2.

No direc­tor is cur­rently attached to the sequel. Gen­ndy Tar­takovsky, direc­tor of the orig­i­nal film, will be in charge of SPA’s Pop­eye.

Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia has grossed more than $250 mil­lion world­wide so far. It opened to $42.5 mil­lion in North Amer­ica and $50.6 over­seas, set­ting a new record for a Sep­tem­ber opening.

In the orig­i­nal film, Adam San­dler voiced Drac­ula, owner of the five-star resort of the movie’s title. Other mon­sters included Mur­ray the Mummy (Cee Lo Green), Frankenstein’s Mon­ster (Kevin James) and Grif­fin the Invis­i­ble Man (David Spade). Dracula’s daugh­ter Mavis was voiced by Selena Gomez.

Live Outside the Box Wins at Oregon Film Awards

Live Outside The Box

Live Out­side The Box

Directed by Shu-Hsuan Lin of Tai­wan, “Live Out­side the Box” was named the Grand Win­ner for Best Ani­ma­tion on Wednes­day at the Ore­gon Film Awards.

The lead­ing char­ac­ter, Simon, is a worka­holic with­out any social con­tact. Grad­u­ally, his world becomes smaller and smaller, and even at the very end, there is noth­ing left in his world but only his work. This severe impact finally wakes him up, and now Simon has to find the right way to bring his life back before every­thing is too late.

The Plat­inum Award in the Ani­ma­tion Film Com­pe­ti­tion was given to Fire­fly and the Cof­fee Machine, directed by John Michael Wilyat, while Back­space, directed by Jil­lian Starr and Brian Starr, won the Gold Award.

The Sil­ver Award in the Ani­ma­tion Film Com­pe­ti­tion went to Berserk: Golden Age Arc I — The Egg of the King, directed by Kubooka Toshiyuki. Klay­ton Stainer’s Atom won the Bronze Award.

The com­plete list of 2012 Ore­gon Film Award win­ners can be viewed on the event’s offi­cial Web site, www.oregonfilmawards.com.

Ten Animated Shorts Move Ahead in 2012 Oscar Race

Oscar Statuette, Academy Awards

Oscar Stat­uette, Acad­emy Awards

The Acad­emy of Motion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences announced Fri­day that 10 ani­mated short films will advance in the vot­ing process for the 85th Acad­emy Awards.

Fifty-six pic­tures had orig­i­nally qual­i­fied in the category.

The 10 films are listed below in alpha­bet­i­cal order by title, with their pro­duc­tion companies:

Adam and Dog, Minkyu Lee, direc­tor (Lodge Films)
Hi No Yôjin (Com­bustible), Kat­suhiro Otomo, direc­tor (Sun­rise Inc.)
Dripped, Léo Ver­rier, direc­tor (ChezEddy)
The Eagle­man Stag, Mikey Please, direc­tor, and Bene­dict Please, music scores and sound design (Royal Col­lege of Art)
The Fall Of The House Of Usher, Raul Gar­cia, direc­tor, and Stephan Roe­lants, pro­ducer (Melu­sine Productions/R&R Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc./Les Armateurs/The Big Farm)
Fresh Gua­camole, PES, direc­tor (PES)
Head over Heels, Tim­o­thy Reckart, direc­tor, and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, pro­ducer (National Film and Tele­vi­sion School)
Mag­gie Simp­son in “The Longest Day­care, David Sil­ver­man, direc­tor (Gra­cie Films)
Paper­man, John Kahrs, direc­tor (Dis­ney Ani­ma­tion Stu­dios)
Tram, Michaela Pavlá­tová, direc­tor, and Ron Dyens, pro­ducer (Sacre­bleu Productions)

The Short Films and Fea­ture Ani­ma­tion Branch Review­ing Com­mit­tee viewed all the eli­gi­ble entries for the pre­lim­i­nary round of vot­ing at screen­ings held in New York and Los Angeles.

Short Films and Fea­ture Ani­ma­tion Branch mem­bers will now select three to five nom­i­nees from among the 10 titles on the short­list. Branch screen­ings will be held in Los Ange­les, New York and San Fran­cisco in December.

The 85th Acad­emy Awards nom­i­na­tions will be announced live on Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 10 at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Gold­wyn Theater.

Acad­emy Awards for out­stand­ing film achieve­ments of 2012 will be pre­sented on Sun­day, Feb­ru­ary 24 at the Dolby The­atre at Hol­ly­wood & High­land Cen­ter, and tele­vised live on ABC. The Oscar pre­sen­ta­tion also will be tele­vised live in more than 225 coun­tries worldwide.

Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson Join Animated “Lego” Voice Cast

Lego: The Piece of Resistance

Lego: The Piece of Resistance

Will Fer­rell, Liam Nee­son, Nick Offer­man and Ali­son Brie are the lat­est stars to sign on for the new fea­ture film adven­ture Lego: The Piece of Resis­tance, Warner Bros. Pic­tures announced.

The four will join Chris Pratt, Eliz­a­beth Banks, Will Arnett and Mor­gan Free­man in voic­ing char­ac­ters for the upcom­ing orig­i­nal 3D ani­mated film, set for a Feb­ru­ary 7, 2014 release from Warner Bros. Pic­tures and Vil­lage Road­show Pic­tures. The movie is cur­rently in production.

The first-ever full-length the­atri­cal Lego movie fol­lows Emmet, an ordi­nary, rules-following, per­fectly aver­age Lego minifig­ure who is mis­tak­enly iden­ti­fied as the most extra­or­di­nary per­son and the key to sav­ing the world. He is drafted into a fel­low­ship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a jour­ney for which Emmet is hope­lessly and hilar­i­ously underprepared.

Fer­rell (The Cam­paign) stars as the voice of Emmet’s pri­mary adver­sary, Pres­i­dent Busi­ness, an eru­dite, anal-retentive CEO who has a hard time bal­anc­ing world dom­i­na­tion with micro-managing his own life. Nee­son (Taken and Taken 2, Oscar nom­i­nee for Schindler’s List) stars as the voice of the president’s pow­er­ful hench­man, known as Bad Cop, who will stop at noth­ing to catch Emmet.

Offer­man (NBC’s Parks and Recre­ation) takes on the role of a craggy, swag­ger­ing pirate obsessed with revenge on Pres­i­dent Busi­ness, and Brie (NBC’s Com­mu­nity) plays a sweet, lov­able mem­ber of Emmet’s team with a pow­er­ful secret. Pratt (Mon­ey­ball) stars as the voice of Emmet.

Oscar win­ner Free­man (Mil­lion Dol­lar Baby) and Banks (The Hunger Games, Emmy nom­i­nee for 30 Rock), will star as two of Emmet’s fel­low trav­el­ers: Vit­ru­vius, an old mys­tic; and tough-as-nails Lucy, who mis­takes Emmet for the sav­ior of the world and guides him on his quest. Lucy also calls upon the mys­te­ri­ous Bat­man, a Lego minifig­ure voiced by Arnett (Emmy nom­i­nee, 30 Rock), with whom she shares a history.

Phil Lord and Christo­pher Miller (21 Jump Street, Golden Globe nom­i­nee for Cloudy with a Chance of Meat­balls) are direct­ing from their orig­i­nal screen­play, story by Dan Hage­man, Kevin Hage­man, Lord and Miller, based on Lego con­struc­tion toys. The film will incor­po­rate some of the most pop­u­lar Lego fig­ures while intro­duc­ing sev­eral new char­ac­ters, invit­ing fans who have enjoyed the brand’s inno­v­a­tive toys and hugely pop­u­lar video games for gen­er­a­tions to expe­ri­ence their visu­ally unique Lego world as never seen before.

The film will be pro­duced by Dan Lin (Sher­lock Holmes, Sher­lock Holmes: A Game of Shad­ows) and Roy Lee (The Departed, How to Train Your Dragon). It will be dis­trib­uted by Warner Bros. Pic­tures, and in select ter­ri­to­ries by Vil­lage Road­show Pictures.

Herzfeldt’s “Beautiful Day” Wins at Yosemite Animation Fest

It’s Such a Beau­ti­ful Day,” directed by Don Herzfeldt, was named Best Ani­ma­tion at the fourth inter­na­tional Yosemite Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, held in California.

It’s Such a Beau­ti­ful Day had won the First Prize Golden Zagreb Award at this year’s Zagreb World Fes­ti­val of Ani­mated Films. It also was named Best Ani­ma­tion Film (Ani­mated Short Film) a the Fant-Asia Film Fes­ti­val and received the Best Ani­ma­tion Yoram Gross Award at the Flick­er­fest Inter­na­tional Short Film Festival.

Among the John Muir Award Win­ners at the Yosemite Film Fes­ti­val, Sur­viv­ing Hunger won the Ani­ma­tion Competition.

Jimmy Paul The Pug Tooth Fairy won the Ani­ma­tion Com­pe­ti­tion at the festival’s Sil­ver Sierra Awards, while Wet and Wet­ter was declared the win­ner of the El Cap­i­tal Award in the Ani­ma­tion Competition.

The Yosemite Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val awards recog­ni­tion for some of the world’s finest and most vision­ary inde­pen­dent films made by many of the lead­ing con­tem­po­rary artists and cre­ative minds work­ing in cin­ema and screen­writ­ing today.

The judges selected one exclu­sive win­ner from each Award Tier and Best of Cat­e­gory, along with the over­all Grand Jury Prize Win­ner, The Ratio, directed by Jor­dan Imhoff, selected as the very best project from among all the com­pe­ti­tion cat­e­gories, the high­est and most acclaimed honor bestowed in the contest.

In addi­tion, Grand Prize Win­ners and Offi­cial Final­ists were selected for the annual Screen­play Com­pe­ti­tion at the dis­cre­tion of expert judges. Screen­play Com­pe­ti­tion win­ners include first place win­ner Red Flags, writ­ten by San­dra Bowes; sec­ond place win­ner She Will Be Mine, writ­ten by Burleigh Smith; third place win­ner Tran­shu­mans, writ­ten by Alex Sobol; fourth place win­ner The Bad­minton War­rior, writ­ten by Tom Radovich; and fifth place win­ner “Road­side Crosses Revised, writ­ten by Solace Pineo.

It was so grat­i­fy­ing to have received such an excep­tional wide vari­ety of sub­mis­sions,” said Eas­ton Stu­art, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Yosemite Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val. “Our mis­sion is to rec­og­nize and award pro­gres­sive, eye-opening, inde­pen­dent cin­ema and writ­ing. After care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, we are pleased to present the absolute best of the 2012 competition.”

A com­plete list of the win­ners can be viewed on the contest’s Web site, www.yosemitefilmfestival.com.

Woodbury Animation Founder, Chair Jack Bosson Dies

Jack Bosson

Jack Bosson

Jack Bosson, chair of Wood­bury University’s ani­ma­tion depart­ment for three years, has died, car­toon his­to­rian Jerry Beck announced Mon­day evening.

His age was not imme­di­ately available.

Bosson served as as a train­ing con­sul­tant to Dis­ney in 1999 and taught at var­i­ous insti­tu­tions until he was hired to set up an ani­ma­tion depart­ment at Wood­bury. He retired two years ago as pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus after eight years at the university.

He did back­ground paint­ing briefly at Hanna-Barbera and was hired as a trainer in fea­ture ani­ma­tion at Dis­ney in 1995.

Bosson was a prac­tic­ing and exhibit­ing fine artist and free­lance illus­tra­tor for over 35 years. He taught draw­ing and paint­ing at Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity, Col­lege of New Rochelle, Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Otis Col­lege of Art and Design, Gno­mon School of Visual Effects and Wood­bury, among other institutions.

Bosson received his Diploma of Design from The Cooper Union. He stud­ied paint­ing and draw­ing at the l’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris on a Ful­bright Fel­low­ship, and received his Mas­ter of Fine Arts Degree from Cor­nell in 1966.