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.