Svankmajer
July 8th, 2006

In a year dominated by smart-aleck animals and cars there are a few odd ones coming out soon. Richard Linkletter (Waking Life) has a new film- Through a Scanner, Darkly, and Surrealist Jan Svankmajer (Alice) has a new project . Karl Cohen, the President of ASIFA San Francisco just wrote me: " Saw Lunacy, a new Svankmajer feature that opens in August. It is a masterpiece or the most vile blasphomous and disgusting film ever made (depending on your point of view). It is told like something written by Poe about the Marquis  de Sade." Sounds like fun!

 


July 8th Saturday
July 8th, 2006

QUIZ:
WHICH MOVIE STAR NEVER WORKED ON AN ANIMATED FILM?

1-Jack Nicholson
2- Dustin Hoffman
3- James Stewart
4- Angela Jolie
5-Paul Newman

answer below.....

July 8th
Birthdays: Jean de LaFontaine , the creator of Puss & Boots, John D. Rockefeller Sr, Nelson Rockefeller, Kathe Kollwitz, Louis Jordan, Billy Eckstine, Phillip Johnson, Marty Feldman, Kevin Bacon, Billy Crudup,Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Angelica Huston, Raffi

1911- Burbank incorporated as a city.

1932- Tod Brownings disturbing movie "Freaks" about a family of circus sideshow performers, premiered.

1982- Walt Disney's TRON premiered- the first film claiming to be made chiefly with computer graphics. The film was created by Boston filmmaker Steve Lissberger using the CG houses Bob Abel, Magi and Triple I. It only had about 20 minutes of actual CGI and the computer images were still printed onto traditional animation cells and painted, but it was still a significant achievement. Remember in 1981 there were no off the shelf graphics software. Everything written was proprietary. Wavefront wouldn't exist for several years and Parallel processing didn't really get going until '84. Warping or morphing was about 4 years away in the future. The big deal at the time was that MAGI had just solved the "hidden Line" problem.

---------------------------------
QUIZ:
WHICH MOVIE STAR NEVER WORKED ON AN ANIMATED FILM?


2- Dustin Hoffman was the narrator for the Murakami-Wolf TV 1973 special The Point.
3- James Stewart- was the old hound dog in Amblimations American Tale II, Feival Goes West.
4- Angela Jolie- did a sexy fish in Dreamworks Sharktale
5-Paul Newman- was recently the old race car in Pixars CARS.

so the answer is 1- Jack Nicholson. While not yet doing any voice work for any cartoon, he was a intern for Hanna & Barbera at the MGM studio in 1957 doing Tom & Jerry shorts. Not too long ago at the Oscars, retired Joseph Barbera came up behind Nicholson in his front row seat and whispered in his ear;" Hey Jacky, go get me a Coke!" The dark-sunglassed thespian turned and smiled his famous grin:" Anything you say, Mister Barbera.." was his reply.


July 7 th Friday
July 7th, 2006

Birthdays: Gustav Mahler, Satchel Page, Ringo Starr, Robert Heinlein, Gian Carlo Menotti, Warner Bros master animator Ken Harris*, Shelley Duval, Ted Cassidy the voice of Space Ghost and Lurch in the Adams Family , Michelle Kwan, David McCullough, Pierre Cardin, and according to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle this is the birthday of Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick Dr. John Watson

* There is a website dedicated to Ken Harris called Masteranimator.com. I suspect the person who created it is from Dick Williams London Studio, for the preponderance of English memorabilia of the late, great animator.

1895-THE FIRST COLOR SUNDAY COMICS - The first modern comic strip Hogan’s Alley featuring "The Yellow Kid" by Richard Felton Outcault, debuts in the Sunday edition of Pulitzer's New York World. The main character sported a bright yellow shirt with a message on it. The strip was so popular it coined the name "Yellow Journalism" to the sensationalist tabloid press. Comic strips at this time became the mass media of the day. For people who couldn’t afford a theater ticket and couldn’t yet speak English, the little characters in the penny papers were extremely popular and made celebrities out of cartoonists like Outcault, Bud Selig George McManus and Winsor McCay. Richard Outcault later inventing the backend deal when he asked for a percentage of all sales from his new comic strip "Buster Brown and his dog Tige" Many an animator like Walt Disney and Max Fleischer first dreamt of being a famous cartoonist like Raymound Outcault or Winsor McCay.

1949-"I’m Friday"- The program Dragnet first debuted on radio. Jack Webb conceived, wrote, directed and starred in the show. His hardest job was urging actors "not to act" but to speak the lines normally like an average person does.

1960- First demonstration of a practical laser beam. In Russia it had been theorized since 1951. Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation or LASER.

1967- Vivien Leigh, the actress who played Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, died in a mental institution at age 53.

1967 - Beatles' "All You Need is Love" is released. In 2002 for her Jubilee Queen Elizabeth II requested it because it was one of her favorite songs.

1967 – The Doors' song "Light My Fire" hits #1.


History for 7/6/2006
Birthdays: Frida Kahlo,The Dalai Lama, Della Reese, Nancy Reagan,Ned Beatty,Sylvester Stallone is 59, Merv Griffin, Janet Leigh, Bill Haley, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sebastian Cabot the voice of Bagira in Disneys the Jungle Book and the narrator of the Winnie the Pooh films, Disney vis dev artist James Bodrero,Geoffrey Rush, President George W. Bush is 60

1917- As Lowell Thomas news reel cameras rolled Lawrence of Arabia and Bedouin
Sheik Ouda Abu-Tai captured the Red Sea Port of Acqaba from Turkish troops. The
battle was dramatized in the 1962 David Lean film Lawrence of Arabia.

1928- The film "The Lights of New York" premiered at the Strand theater
on Broadway. After 1927's the Jazz Singer popularized sound movies while still being
half silent, this is the first film with an all dialogue track. The soundtrack was on a large
wax record that had to run in sync with the film, and frequently it slipped.

1957-Chuck Jones short "Whats Opera,Doc?" debuts."Dubbed by Steven Speilberg the Citizen Kane of Cartoons.

TRIVIA...what operas do Carl Stalling reference the most in the cartoon?

*answers below*

1964 - Beatles' film "Hard Day's Night" premieres in London. The bands iconoclastic antics captured by Richard Lesters' free style direction set the style for the music videos of the future.

1974- The first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keilor's ode to
a small town in Minnesota.

1998- French workers at Disney's Paris theme park went on strike for better pay
and not having to smile all the time like the silly Americans do.


Trivia Answer: What Operas did Carl Stalling borrow from for Whats Opera Doc?"

-Mostly the overture to Tannhauser by Richard Wagner, although Elmers cry" Kill the Wa-Bitt! "is a goof on the Ride of the Valkyries from Wagners Die Walkure.
-Toi-yo ta ho-oh! is the actual words in the libretto.
- Bugs opening recititivo in drag " Oh Mighty Hunter...etc." Is the theme from Wagners Seigfried.
-The Second Act Ballet- is from Tannhauser. Bravo Chuck and Maurice!

**BEST WISHES TO ALL MY FRENCH AND ITALIAN ANIMATOR FRIENDS AT DREAMWORKS CURRENTLY MESMERIZED BY THE WORLD CUP FINAl! Never mind the Berliner SportsPlatz, the wildest place to see the final match will be the Dreamworks Animation Studio Commissary. Bon Chance! Bona Fortuna!


Birthdays: P.T. Barnum, Beatrix Potter the creator of Peter Rabbit, film director Jean Cocteau, Admiral David Farragut, avant garde animator Len Lye, Huey Lewis, Milburn Stone (Doc on Gunsmoke), Warren Oates, Edie Falco-aka Carmela Soprano

1935- The Wagner Act passed Congress, decreeing all American workers have the right to collective bargaining and to form unions, and that you could not be punished or fired for wanting a union. Dave Fleischer in retirement complained often that the Wagner Act prevented him from firing those pesky strikers he felt were ruining his studio. When Walt Disney fired animator Art Babbitt for agitating for a union, the Wagner Act was invoked to get him re-hired.

1954- Tomoyuki Tanaka announced the beginning of production on the movie Godzilla, called in Japanese Kohjira. The name is a combination of Gorilla and Whale. The famous roar was done with the modified sound of a bear followed by smearing a riff on an upright string bass fiddle using a rubber dishwashing glove.
-------------------------------poster courtesy of movieposters.com------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yesterday I had lunch in Taipei with James Wang, the president and founder of Cuckoos Nest Animation. When the President Emeritus of the Hollywood Animation Guild and the head of one of the largest animation studios in Asia get together, what did we discuss? Global trade? Protectionism? No, we talked about Raggedy Ann.

We recalled how we all began together thirty years ago in New York City. It was the Bicentennial Summer of 1976. Operation Sail was in New York Harbor, Disco Duck on the radio, Disney studios was finishing up the Rescuers, Bakshi was beginning the Lord of the Rings, Hanna & Barbera was doing Scooby Doo.

In New York City Pat Thackeray and Joe Raposo had written a Broadway musical about the Raggedy Ann dolls of Johnny Gruelle. in 1914 Gruelle entertained his fatally ill daughter by making up stories about her rag dollies. Raposo was the composer of the theme music of Sesame Street and hits like "Its Not Easy Being Green." They convinced Broadway impresarios Richard Horner and Lester Osterman to bring the musical to the screen via animation. The deep pockets of IT&T were to fund the project. UPA veteran Abe Levitow was set to direct and Shamus Culhane to manage the production. But Levitow died suddenly and Culhane withdrew after creative disagreements. Academy Award winning director Richard Williams was brought in to head the productions. He create a Shangri-La of quality animation in New York and an amazing opportunity for young talent not seen in Manhattan since the days of Max and Dave Fleischer.

Listen to the animators roster: Grim Natwick the creator of Betty Boop, Art Babbitt the creator of Goofy, Tissa David one of John Hubley's top animators backed by young assistant Eric Goldberg, Gerry Chinniquy the animator who defined Yosemite Sam assisted by Barney Posner, who cleaned up Ken Muses animation of Jerry the Mouse dancing with Gene Kelly, Emery Hawkins the great Warners animator assisted by Dan Haskett, UPA stalwart Willis Pyle, Corny Cole, John Kimball, Art Vitello, Jerry Dvorak, Warren Batchelor, John Bruno who would win an Oscar for the visual effects for James Camerons True Lies, Crystal Russell, later Klabunde, Jim Logan, Doug Crane, Tom Roth and more. Dick Williams himself animated many key scenes of Grandpa and Raggedy Andy.

For us young artists just starting this was the greatest constellation of animation talent seen outside of the Mouse Factory. Young artists getting their first big breaks included future Warner director Russell Calabrese, Future Simpsons title animator Kevin Petrilak, Future Beavis & Butthead director Carol Millican, future interactive games pioneer Glen Entis, director-animator Gian Celestri, future Oscar nominee and studio head Michael Sporn ( our head of cleanup), Sue Kroyer,Dave Block, Lester "Skeets" Pegues, Louis Scarborough, William Frake III, Judy Levitow, Peggy Tonkonogy, Mitch Rochon, Sheldon Cohen, Alissa Mayerson, Patty Hoyt, Ellen Cooper, Judy Hans, James Davis, Jeffrey Gatrall, Karen Marjoibanks, Harold Brown, John Butterworth, Karen Peterson, Claire Williams, and many many more. The production was administered in New York by Bakshi veteran Cosmo Anzilotti and in LA by Carl Bell.

Watching on the sidelines writing a book about the effort was future Oscar winner and writer John Canemaker.

Then in Spring 1977 the film was done and the studio disappeared. Dick returned to the Thief in London and the rest of us scattered. I bought a Camel with the Wrinked Knees doll at the Odd Job Traders second hand store. So much for merchandising. I still have it today. Raggedy Ann & Andy was not a blockbuster success, but it did make memories for many children.

And it was a lasting memory for us. James Wang and I laughed and reminisced. For us animation folks, we will never forget that summer of '76 when Raggedy Ann was our common mother. No matter where we all go, we have that shared experiance. We were young, full of potential, and could conquer the world. The Cartoon World, anyway. Such crews existed before- The Iron Giant Crew, the Ferngully Crew, the Roger Rabbitt Crew. I hope you some day experience the camraderie of such a group. So I send out a greeting around the world to my Raggedy bros. and sisters.

As Ann herself said :" It was real for shure strange!"


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