Yes, I know that's like Fox Sports getting into the daytime soap opera business, but you can't get too upset about the network inappropriate name game. Remember when Bravo was the fine arts network? I rest my case.
As for Cartoon Network's new non-animated shows, a release from the network says Tower Prep and Unnatural History are headed our way in January, 2010.
According to the network, Tower Prep is "an action thriller telling the story of rebellious teen, Ian (Drew Van Acker), who wakes up one morning to find himself trapped at a mysterious prep school." In other words, it's a teenage remake of The Prisoner -- the original 1960s version -- or "Jim Henson's The Prisoner Babies."
The sign artfully painted on the glass door in this tasteful, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired hallway within the Skywalker Ranch compound in Marin County, Calif. reads "LucasFilm Television." You'll have to trust me on that. This is as close as I could get with a camera.
You might wonder what the big deal is about that sign -- considering that LucasFilm has a show on the air already with Cartoon Network's Star Wars: The Clone Wars. But, those 22 episodes originate across the building in LucasFilm Animation -- a separate division.
You can pick any one of many collected reports, but they all say the show is well past the planning stages and is only waiting on completed scripts before George Lucas begins casting the essential roles.
While news of Star Wars on TV might have generated a bored groan from viewers after the prequel movies came and went, the critical and ratings success of Cartoon Network's The Clone Wars shows that a galaxy far, far away can work on TV if the writers, directors and cast remember that this is all supposed to be fun -- not high drama of a deeply spiritual nature.
(S06E10) "What?!? I'm re-hydrating!" - Shake
I remember when I first heard about the live-action episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, I wasn't all that excited about it. Most of the ATHF DVD sets have had some sort of live-action Easter egg, usually of some fools dressed up in homemade Frylock and Master Shake costumes. They've never been funny and I just figured this episode would be like one of them. Then came news that it wouldn't be anything like that - T-Pain would be playing Frylock. That alone was worth the wait, but after all the hype... it just didn't do it for me.
Don't you wish someone would make a live-action movie based on a popular cartoon from the '80s about giant robots?
No, not that one, I'm talking about Voltron. Variety reports that Voltron: Defender of the Universe is finally on the cusp of getting made. Of course, the success of Transformers has helped quite a bit as far as stirring up interest. New Regency and the Mark Gordon Company are close to finalizing a deal to start production on the movie. New Regency's other live-action adaptation is Alvin and the Chipmunks. Eek.
Via Digg comes news that Legendary Pictures has its eyes on both Brad Pitt and Gerard Butler (300) for the role of He-Man in yet another movie version of the popular '80s
half-hour toy commercial animated series.
The original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe aired from 1983 to 1985, but He-Man first appeared in DC Comics and as a line of action figures. In 1987, a live-action film was made with Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor. Updated versions of the original He-Man cartoon aired in 1990 and 2002.
The movie, written and directed by Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City), will hit theaters on August 3. According to a report on MTV.com, Underdog will be portrayed by a real dog and a mix of animatronic and CGI effects. Rifkin claims he was a huge fan of Underdog as a kid, and told the studio they needed to make it a live-action flick. I don't quite follow Rifkin's logic, since I'm also a huge Underdog fan and would have either A) made it an animated movie, or B) not made the movie at all so at least one thing from my childhood wasn't tainted with an egregious modern adaptation.
Nevertheless, the movie is being made. Jason Lee will voice the super hero dog, along with Amy Adams as Sweet Polly Purebred and Peter Dinklage as Simon Bar Sinister. I'm going to not buy tickets right now so I be one of the first not to see it.
In 1963, shortly before the Warner Bros. Animation Studio closed down, Friz Freleng created a pilot for ABC called Philbert. The series, a mix of animation and live-action, featured actor William Schallert (The Patty Duke Show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Gunsmoke, Get Smart) as a newspaper cartoonist who lives with Philbert, the character from his comic. ABC never picked up the pilot, so it was repackaged as a theatrical short instead. If you own the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3, then you own the theatrical version of Philbert, which is included with the set.
Animation historian Jerry Beck provided audio commentary for the short, and has posted a rough clip of the original television pilot on Cartoon Brew. The pilot was directed by Richard Donner (Superman, The Goonies). Freleng directed the animation. I've also placed it here for your enjoyment. It definitely has a very "'60s sitcom" feel to it, and it's neat to see the cartoon character holding and interacting with objects in the real world.
Tim and Eric care deeply about me so they sent me an e-mail to tell me about some new promos for their upcoming live-action Adult Swim series, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! which debuts in February. Actually, I just happen to be on their mailing list, but I like to imagine their e-mails are just for me. I print them out, decorate them with heart stickers and glitter and think happy thoughts about what Tim and Eric are doing in Los Angeles. Then I start to worry that maybe they've forgotten about me and are seeing other people. I start to worry more and more until I've convinced myself they're cheating on me and then I go to the bar and take home some lonely middle-aged divorcee for a drunken night of sad love making and spend the next week wondering how to deal with the guilt. It's just so hard being away from Tim and Eric, you know?
Ever since Adult Swim decided to air reruns of Saved by the Bell, albeit only for a couple weeks, it's been a battle between fans who loathe the idea and a network that continues to taunt them. A couple days ago the network announced on the site that it had managed to do for Saved by the Bell what it had done for Family Guy, and that the series was going back into production with the original cast. This dubious announcement was just one example of the network having fun with what turned out to be an unpopular decision.
But there may be more to it than that. The guys over at Cartoon Brew, who have worked in the animation industry and know people on the inside, have been following what could possibly be a major change in the way Cartoon Network approaches its programming. First, there was this piece in Variety earlier this month which stated the network was opening its doors to ideas for live-action series, and even had one series close to a development deal. Then, a couple days ago Amid at Cartoon Brew posted some e-mails he had received from people close to Cartoon Network. The first e-mail, from a former employee of the network who claims to still be in touch with artists and executives, stated that the decision may be a financial one: "When everyone seems to be completely flummoxed at these changes at the network, I feel compelled to impart what I am quite sure is the real inspiration behind this programming boondoggle: Cartoon Network is simply not bringing in any real money at their channel. There is no merchandise on the market for their shows, there are no fast food toy promos, and there is not any national advertising."
Man, I loved watching reruns of Underdog when I was a kid. The fights! The rhyming! Those Native American gopher dudes! Anyway, when I found out they were making a movie based on the beloved cartoon series, I was thrilled. Then I found out it would be done with live actors and not animated. Now I'm not so thrilled anymore. There is one glimmer of hope I have, and that's actor Peter Dinklage (he played Arthur Ramsey on Threshold), who will play the evil villain Simon Bar Sinister. If any actor is deserving of more exposure, I think it's him. His portrayal of a gay wedding planner in The Baxter was brilliant.
As far as Underdog himself, he'll be portrayed by a real dog with a CGI mouth. According to reports, bland flavor-of-the-month Dane Cook may voice the character. Well, if the guy can affect a decent Underdog voice, that's fine, but I'd rather see it go to someone like Billy West who's actually known and respected for his voice work. Sadly, they forgot to cryogenically freeze Wally Cox after his death, so we can't revive him to do this movie. Curse you, modern science.
The film, which is being produced by Disney, begins shooting this month.
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