February 26, 2007 mon Oscars
February 26th, 2007

my limo's eye view of the lineup to the red carpet. click on image.
Well Boys & Girls, the Oscars were last night and the animation gang was all out in force. I shared a limo with Bill & Sue Kroyer and animator Terry Lennon and our families.

Sito, Sito's Dad and Terry Lennon

The Third Tier Balcony is becoming the Animation Ghetto- I looked around and spotted animators Rick Farmiloe, Jim Beihold and Zara Dowlabandi, Dave Burgess, Bob Kurtz, Anthony LaMolinaro and the lovely Annie Guenther. Behind me, whooping it up for their dads, were the son of John Lassiter and the daughter of Roger Allers. Downstairs I ran into Barry Weiss from Imageworks, Jeff Kleiser and my old Shrek buddy, storyboarder and art director Dave Lowery.

Congrats to Happy Feet and The Danish Poet. I like that the NFB has a policy that when a short wins the filmmaker-director and not just the Producer goes up to get the award. This was not the case in many past years, like when Borge Ring won for Anna & Bella and some suit from the Dutch Film Board was up on stage instead of him.

There are many great stories and incidents from past Oscars, When Nick Park won for Wrong Trousers and he drove to the ceremony in a Wallace & Gromet motorcycle, only to be stopped by the LAPD for riding without a helmet. And Polish artist Zbignew Rybcynski, who won for Tango in 1982(?). He later stepped out for a smoke and was not let back in. Shouting the only English he knew"I have Oscar!" he tusseled with security guards who roughly sent him to jail and his statuette landed in the bushes. Or so goes the story.

I took my 85 year old dad, and he had a great time. Hope to run into you too someday on the Red Carpet!

entrance to the Red Carpet. After this they take your cameras away.

Birthday: Old and Good King King Wenceslas of Bohemia-1361, Victor Hugo, Buffalo Bill Cody, Emma Destin, Levi Strauss the bluejeans maker, Jackie Gleason, Fats Domino, Betty Hutton, Johnny Cash, William Frawley (Fred Murtz), Robert Alda (Alan's dad), Great animation director Fred” Tex” Avery, Tony Randall, Ehryke Bahdu

747 B.C. In Sumer it is the beginning of the Age of Nabronassar.

500’s BC to 391 AD, Ancient Greek festival of ANTHESTERION- the festival of death and exorcism. The ancient Greeks believed ghosts weren’t as scary as they were annoying. If you didn’t bury the dead properly with spices and a coin in the mouth for the Chaeron the Boatman of the River Styx, they became ghosts. They would haunt you by moping around, turning up at inappropriate moments, predicting your death, bleeding on your lunch, etc. So this festival was a sort of “visiting hours” for the other world. You left your door open and cooked a meal for the spirits so they could spend a day visiting their old haunts (forgive the pun).This way they would not bug you the rest of the year. This festival was also considered a festival of flowers to usher in Spring. Most Greeks tried to spend all three days of the festival roaring drunk.

1965- First day of shooting on the Beatle's second film 'Help!".

1983- Michael Jackson’s album Thriller went to #1 in the pop charts and stayed for weeks.

1990- Cornell Gunther, lead singer for the DooWop group the Coasters, was shot dead at a Las Vegas traffic intersection."Yakkety-Yak, Don't Talk Back!"

1991- At a meeting in Switzerland Tim Berners-Lee introduced the first Web Browser.

February 25, 2007 Oscar Sunday
February 25th, 2007

I'll post a report on the Academy Awards when I get back tonight.

Note: I normally don't want to mix national politics with cartoons, but national politics keep butting in. To all pro cartoonists- President Bush is stumping for his new idea for giving health insurance to the uninsured. Of course, nothing about reining in the out of control insurance industries and spiraling health costs. His idea is to pay for insurance for the poor by raising the premiums of people who have employer paid union plans- That means you and me. Many of the uninsured poor are made that way by their employers, who refuse to pay health benefits and expect the public system to make up the difference. Please join me in letting your Congress person know you don't like this idea.

Birthdays: Enrico Caruso, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Zeppo Marx,St. Louis (King Louis IX of France), Bobby Riggs, Sir Anthony Burgess- author of A Clockwork Orange, director Neil Jordan, Larry Gelbart, Tom Courtenay, Sean Astin is 35, Tea Leoni

799AD- Today is the Feast of Saint Walburga, who with her brother Saint Winebold preached Christianity in the remote forests of Germany. Oddly enough after Walburga’s death the Saint’s remains were removed to a new resting place on the anniversary of a pagan festival and her name stuck to the celebration- April 30th the Walpurgisnacht.

1932- TOONTOWN SCANDALS. Former Australian prizefighter Pat Sullivan was the producer of the Felix the Cat cartoons, the first true animation star. Although animator Otto Mesmer actually created him Sullivan's name is the only one on the titles. Felix was one of the top film stars of the 1920s. Lindbergh supposedly had a Felix doll with him in the Spirit of St. Louis and his body shape was the prototype of Mickey Mouse and dozens of other characters.While Mesmer quietly drew pictures Sullivan lived the fast life of a roaring twenties celebrity. Mrs. Marjorie Sullivan had been having an affair with her chauffeur. After a nasty scene when husband confronted wife and the chauffeur fled, Mrs. Sullivan mysteriously fell out of her window to her death. The scandal was front page news and Sullivan never got over it. He soon drank himself to death which during Prohibition was difficult to do. Sullivan's death and his failure to get Felix into sound cartoons doomed his studio. Otto Mesmer went on to animate the first Broadway light signs but did not receive any recognition for his contributions to animation until he was re-introduced to the public at a Bob Clampett night at the Museum of Modern Art in 1975. Kid animators Eric Goldberg and Tom Sito were in the audience.

1943- Master animator Bill Tytla resigned from Disney.

1957- Buddy Holly and the Crickets record "That'll Be the Day."

1964 Young Cassius Clay, later renamed Muhammed Ali, defeated Sonny Liston in 2:14 minutes into the 6th round for the heavyweight boxing crown. The odds were on Liston 8-1 but Clay said he would "Float like a Butterfly and Sting Like a Bee!"When asked to comment about his defeat, Sonny Liston concluded: "Life, a funny thing."

1971- Oh Calcutta, the first play with lots of actors shedding their clothes, premiered on Broadway at the Belasco.

1996- Dr Haing Ngor, the doctor who survived the Cambodian Killing Fields holocaust and won an Academy Award in a movie of the same name, was killed in a robbery attempt outside his Los Angeles home.

2004- Movie star uber-Catholic Mel Gibson’s movie the "The Passion of the Christ" opened in North America. The film was criticized for it’s perceived anti-Semitism, it was the first movie in which Jesus spoke his real language –Aramaic. The film was advertised more in churches than in the press. The Christian evangelical community made it an event. Pastors bought blocks of tickets for their congregations. The film earned nearly a billion dollars, most of the profit earned by Gibson, who was the films sole investor.

February 24, 2007 sat
February 24th, 2007

I just got a nice e-mail from my old boss, animator Jack Zander.

Jack was born in 1909 and began at the Rohmer Grey Studio in 1930. He worked at Looney Tunes, MGM and Lantz and was the first president of the Screen Cartoonists Guild when it formed in 1938. He did some great Tom & Jerry animation. After the war he moved to New York City where he became a mainstay in New York Commercials- with Tempo, Pelican, then his own Zanders Animation Parlour. Until age 90 was riding a Harley Davidson and he rode it across the U.S. to get his lifetime achievement award from ASIFA/Hollywood. Former employees of Jacks included Nancy Beiman, Dean Yeagle, Chuck Harriton, and Preston Blair. I worked as a freelance assistant at Zanders in 1977-79. His son Mark also has his own studio.
Jack and me in 1997. click on image to enlarge

I saw animator Doug Crane in New York last week and I was wondering how Jack was doing. So it was a pleasant surprise to receive this e-mail. He had given me some great stories for my book. I hope he doesn’t mind my printing some of it. But I know many of his old friends and employees would get a kick out of hearing from him.






Nice hearing from you Jack! I hope you like the book!

B-Dazes: Roman Emperor Hadrian, Winslow Homer, Arrigo Boito, Wilhelm Grimm (a brother of the brothers Grimm),George Harrison, Abe Vigoda, Edward James Olmos is 60, Barry Bostwick, Michel Legrand, James Farentino, illustrator Zdzislaw Beskinski, Michael Radford, Billy Zane, Dominic Chianese- Uncle Junior Soprano, is 76

495 B.C. Roman Festival REGIFUGIUM in honor of the overthrow of the Tarquins and foundation of the ROMAN REPUBLIC. The king of Rome, Tarquinus Superbus -Tarquin the Proud, Rash, Pain-in-da-Butt, whatever, capping off a history of arrogant rule raped Lucretia, the daughter of a nobleman named Horatius. She tells her dad and he stabs her to death to save her further shame ( I guess that's 'tough love 'or something). The Roman people lead by the Horatius’ and his brother Marcus Brutus drive out the king and establish a republic. For the next 450 years Rome is a democracy led by a Senate-from" senates" or elders, electing two Consuls (presidents) a year with the common peoples spokesmen called Tribunes of the Plebs who could veto. The motto the Republic Romans would carry to the ends of the earth is S.P.Q.R.- Senatus Populusque Romanum -The Senate and the People of Rome.
The proudest status foreigners like Herod or Saint Paul could aspire to was to be made a Citizen of Rome. They could get out of any jam by announcing “Civities Romanum Sum!” I am a Roman Citizen. This meant you could not be imprisoned or otherwise punished by provincial or local authorities. Or if Saint Paul read MAD Magazine he would say " quid, me anxius sum?" what, me worry ?

1928- Frenchman Nicholas Landru, called BLUEBEARD was executed by guillotine. Landru married ten times, bringing the ladies up to his home, murdering them, and burning them in his furnace. He'd then live off their estates and sell their furniture. When the prosecutor said :"So, you made a career out of the suffering and swindling of others !" Landru replied:" No monsieur, I am not a lawyer."

1987- US Robotics sold the first 56k modems.

1988- The US Supreme Court defended the right of public figures to be satirized by throwing out a lawsuit Rev Jerry Fallwell brought against Hustler Magazine owner Larry Flynt. Flynt published a drawing describing Rev Fallwells first romantic experience in an outhouse. The Court ruled a public figure can be lampooned so long as it is not portrayed as factual.

1989- According to the David Lynch television series Twin Peaks this is the day Laura Palmer’s body was found and F.B.I. agent Dale Cooper came to town to investigate.

1996- Los Angeles Angel Flight reopened.

1997- The announcement of the first successful cloning of a mammal embryo, a sheep named Dolly in Scotland. To prove even though they're research scientists 'boys will be boys' They used cells from a mamary gland to do the cloning so they named their creation after busty singer Dolly Parton. After a series of illnesses the animal was put down in 2003, living half the life span of a normal sheep but she mated and had babies normally. But the drive to develop cloning continues. In 2002 the a successful cloning of a cat was claimed by a California company called Commercial Savings & Clone.

2003- State Farm Insurance Company announced that they would add a clause into future car insurance policies that Nuclear Explosions and Terrorist Biological Agents would not be classified as Road Hazards and so not covered. Yep, if a Hydrogen Bomb goes off in my neighborhood my first concern will be about my insurance premiums.

February 23, 2007 Friday
February 23rd, 2007

People are always asking me, what are my favorite animated scenes? I have so many I can't really choose my favorite, but here are some:

All of Bob Clampett's Great Piggybank Robbery,

All of Friz Freleng's Back Alley Oproar.

The Horse in Chuck Jones's the Draft Horse.

Eric Larson's work on Figaro in Pinnochio

Marc Davis' Cruella Da Ville in 101 Dalmations

Bill Littlejohn's work on Snoopy dancing on Shroeder's piano in Charlie Brown Christmas

John Sibley's Goofy in Galloping Gauchos

All of the Mickey short, The Band Concert.

All of UPA's Rooty Toot Toot.

Thom Enriquez and Andy Gaskill's designs of the Circle of Life number in The Lion King

Eric Goldberg's Genii in Aladdin.

Frederic Back's the Man who Planted Trees in the original French. I'm not just being snobby. Although my French isn't that good, I followed the story anyway and enjoyed the images and the music more. Plus, Phillipe Noiret has such a beautiful narrating voice- apologies to Christopher Plummer.

John K's Stimpy's Invention

Paul Dreissen's Cats' Cradle

Borge Rings' Anna & Bella

All of John Hubley's Adventures of an *.

Nik Ranieri's animation of Roger Rabbit expressing his moral outrage before getting hit with a ton of bricks in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Dori doing the whale sounds in Finding Nemo

Gary Trousedale's and Chris Sander's gag drawings on any picture we happened to be on.

I'll think of some more later....
Birthdays: George Fredrich Handel, Samuel Pepys (pronounced 'peeps'), Mayer Amschel Rothschild-1743- founder of the Rothschild banking dynasty, Victor Fleming director of GWTW, Tom Bodet,
W.E.B. DuBois, Johnny Winter, Peter Fonda, Ed Too Tall Jones, William Shirer, Allan MacLeod Cormack-inventor of the CAT Scan, Kelly MacDonald, Steve Jobs, Kristin Davis, Dakota Fanning is 13.

Roman Festival Terminalia, god of borders and boundries.
Not to be confused of course with Janus god of portals and doorways.

1821- In a house in Rome’s Piazza de Espagna 25 year old English poet John Keats died of tuberculosis. As he was dying he joked: ” I can feel daisies growing over me”. He instructed that his grave marker bear only the self deprecating message” Here lies one whose Fame was Written in Water.”

1847-Battle of Buena Vista- No, not between Michael Eisner and Roy Disney but General Zachary Taylor against the Mexican army. While Zachary Taylor was called "Old Rough and Ready", Winfield Scott was "Old Fuss and Feathers".

1935- Walt Disney Mickey & Donald cartoon "The Band Concert". This was the first color Mickey Mouse cartoon.

1940-Woody Guthrie had just arrived in New York City and was staying in a fleabag hotel in Manhattan. He overheard on the radio Kate Smith singing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” and was annoyed because he felt it was overtly patriotic and corny. It was everything he hated about Tin Pan Alley, a rose-colored tune denying the class injustice and suffering of the Great Depression. So Woody took out some paper and his guitar and composed six stanzas he originally called God Blessed America, but he later changed to 'This Land is Your Land". It became the song he’s best remembered for and today it’s considered just as patriotic as God Bless America.

1942- In the dead of night a Japanese submarine surfaced off the California coast and fired its cannon at lights it thinks is a city. In reality it's an oil refinery near Goleta (Ellwood) just north of Santa Barbera. The brief bombardment caused $150 dollars in damage. The sub breaks radio silence to report to Tokyo that " Enemy coast sighted. Los Angeles is in Flames." The incident fueled the panic that Californians had that the West Coast was ripe for enemy invasion. The incident was lampooned in the Steven Spielberg comedy "1941."

February 22, 2007 thurs
February 22nd, 2007

Birthdays: Hungarian King Ladislas the Posthumous-1440, Shah Tahmasp Ist-1514, George Washington, Frederic Chopin, Edward St. Vincent Millay, John Mills, illustrator Edward Gorey, Luis Bunuel, Ted Kennedy, Dwight Frye- Renfield in Dracula, Sheldon Leonard, Don Pardo the announcer on Saturday Night Live, Jonathan Demme, Kyle McLachlan is 48, Drew Barrymore is 32

1732-GEORGE WASHINGTON born- Until 1969 Washington’s Birthday was a national holiday in the USA. Despite his immense reputation George Washington is still quite an enigmatic figure. You can remember great sayings of Kennedy -"Ask not what your country can do for you..") and Lincoln "Government by the people, for the people, etc." but can you recall anything of Washington's? That's because he was a stuffy, by-the-book type who used XVIII Century prose." Conscript Fathers, it would behoove me greatly if you wouldst see fit to provide victuals whereof..".Alexander Hamilton, called him "Talented but Dull". Thomas Paine's opinion: "A Compleate hippocryte". John Adams came to call him “Old Muttonhead” that he’d rather strike leadership poses than actually lead, But Thomas Jefferson called him the" Indispensable Man" who assured that this strange new system of elected president would not lapse into a dictatorship.

SO HERE’S TO a General who lost more battles than won them,
-Who donated much of his personal fortune to the Revolution yet ended the war with a profit;
-who had a whiskey still behind Mt.Vernon and grew hemp -for rope;
-Who had few close friends and despised people touching him;
-Whose first ambition was to be an officer in the British Army.
-Who much preferred conversation about methods of raising squash to discussing his military campaigns.
-Who never went to college.
- Who was turned down for a bank loan the day he was elected President.
-Who went to Church every Sunday but never used the word God or quoted the Bible and refused Last Rites at his deathbed...

- And without whom the U.S. would not be the same. Happy Birthday G.W. !..

1805- Birth in England of Sarah Flowers Adams, whose poetry is in the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee.”

1879- Frank Winfield Woolworth opened his first Five & Ten Cent-store in Utica, New York.

1911-The Kester Ranch in the San Fernando Valley becomes the town of Van Nuys, named for early settler Issac Newton Van Nuys.

1924- President Coolidge becomes first president to address the nation over the radio.

1979- Happy Saint Lucia Independence Day!