Daily Barks 06.05
The Daily Bark: June 2005
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June 30, 2005
Where do ideas come from? And how original are they? I frequently run into folks who have ideas for shows, books, whatever. After they have told me their tale, they then ask me not to mention it to anyone for fear of it being stolen. More often than not, I explain how key points of their ideas are not new at all. Not to imply they have stolen any of their creations, I simply want them to realize that no matter what situation one comes up with, with a bit of research one can come up with a similar premise. Stephen Sondheim looked at this concept in his SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. In the show, an artist bemoans the common plight that everything has been said and done before. His companion states that it may have been said before, but no by him. It implies that a true creator plants their personal stamp on any idea. I might add it is the hack who purposely uses old ideas to build a new one. There are many examples of a later use of the same idea that becomes the standard. Though the worlds of Harry Potter and X-men are not totally new, each creator brought a fresh voice to the concepts. After all, the Hydrox cookie predates the Oreo by around a dozen years. Heathcliff was a comic strip years before Garfield. However when asked to name a cookie or cat comic strip, which comes to mind first.
June 29, 2005
Politics. One often hears how various politicians are "out of step" with the general public. If one wanted any proof of such, one need only see what drives these elected officials (I won't dignify them with the term "leaders") to action. For example, when "activist judges" allow same-sex marriages, these officials jump to action proposing laws and constitutional ammendments. No matter what one may think of same-sex marriage, a logical person must admit the act of such marriages will not affect taxes, your job, your home, or your leisure time. Similarly, let someone "desecrate" a flag as a statement (either political or fashion) and hear them howl. However let other "activist judges" decide the government can take your home away and replace it with a more profitable operation, like a McDonalds, and these same officials stare blankly. Anyone can plainly see how letting the government seize your home for profit would have a huge affect on your home and most likely every other aspect of your life. Heck, living in the mountains, I now have to always wonder if someone will decide my home would be more "profitable" as a ski lodge, or apartment complex, or even a fast food restuarant. And, if I might add, I always chuckle when I hear some politico sneer about "activist judges". Considering how little our elected officials do, no wonder they get upset whenever someone in government actually makes decisions and acts upon them. [News update: An activist citizen has been the first to raise a gauntlet on the house issue. A major developer has submitted a plan to convert one of the Supreme Court justice's large estate into a hotel and convention center. The city has stated it will look at the developer's plan seriously.]
June 28, 2005
The dark alien. With all the fuss over edgier, darker superheroes, I was glad to hear that one of the original "dark" superheroes will be coming to DVD. It is the first season of the SUPERMAN TV show from the 1950s. Yes, the original with George Reeves. Most folks mainly remember the silly, yet fun, color episodes. These offbeat episodes were right in step with the comics of the 50s which often featured weird aliens, daffy storylines, and an un-ending string of pets, friends and relations. The first season of the TV series took a different swing. Starting with the feature film, SUPERMAN VS THE MOLE MEN, the take on Superman is decidely dark. In the film, when strange men come up through an oil rig, the city goes into panic mode. Originally seen as a nod to the Communist scares of the era, it rings true again since 911. The townfolk even attack Superman when he tries to talk reasonably. After all, he is an alien too and should not be trusted. When the series began, there were certainly humorous elements. However there were also constant nods to a darker side of Superman's world. At one point, when Superman learns some crooks have discovered his Clark Kent identity, he maroons them in the frozen north where they fall to their death. Upon hearing of the death, Clark/Superman indicates it might have been for the best. Can you imagine a Superman of the 60s, 70s, or 80s considering such a death justified? I think folks who look into this first season will be surprised at what they find... and might even see where creators of comics and movies in the 90s got the idea of an edgier portrayal of superhero icons.
June 27, 2005
Last week the AFI listed their top 100 movie quotes. As mentioned around the time, I am not much a fan of lists. I looked at their list over the weekend. It made me think about seeing TARZAN II over the weekend. As mentioned in that bark, it was a nice looking film with little story appeal. It has Tarzan travel to a whole new area of the jungle. Instead of interacting with a whole bunch of new animals, he ends up spending his time with more gorillas. It made me think how so many creators in the animation business always announce that the most important part of any production is the story. Yet these same creators are the ones who constantly complain about having to deal with writers. They claim that writers just don't understand animation. Yet these same creators would argue that animation is not a special genre. They would say that animation is just another way to tell a story... a story without writing. Maybe that is why out of the 100 movie quotes picked by AFI's group of directors, actors, producers and other professionals didn't find any dialogue of note from an animated feature. For a batch of creators who shout about story, they are surprisingly adverse to storytellers.
June 26, 2005
Dog breed discrimination. It seems more cities are thinking about the possibility of passing laws banning specific dog breeds. The breed usually mentioned is Pit Bulls. While there seems to be no shortage of news stories about Pit Bull attacks, it is still a tiny percentage of the number of Pit Bulls currently owned as pets. It would be like closing down all amusement parks because some of them have had fatal accidents. And worse, as if often the case, Pit Bulls would be just the beginning. Soon people would begin campaigns against any dog that is perceived as "dangerous" or "large" or even "noisy". I certainly have little sympathy for owners who cannot control their dogs. I have equal lack of sympathy for parents who cannot control their children, but I doubt anyone will suggest a law banning children.
June 25, 2005
After a super busy day, sat down and watched TARZAN II, the latest direct-to-video feature from Disney. Based on their TARZAN feature, this one follows some adventures of the Lord of the Jungle before he became a man. The animation is okay. The story and voicework range from dull to hyper. No real emotion or fun. It is amazing the amount and time and money put into these 'cheapquels' as one critic referred to them. With all that work they can't spend the time to come up with an interesting story.
June 24, 2005
Movies from TV shows. We are thinking of hitting BEWITCHED this weekend. The film is based on the popular 1960s TV series. A friend said it was strange to see so many TV shows turning into movies. My thoughts are, they base movies on books, plays, comics and even musicals. Why not base one on a TV show. More amusing to me is how some shows now becoming movies began as movies. For example - BEWITCHED. The 1960s series was based on a 1940's film called I MARRIED A WITCH. Then there is a movie based on the old I DREAM OF JEANNIE series. JEANNIE is actually spun off of THE BRASS BOTTLE in which the genie constantly getting his master in trouble was played by Burl Ives. One of the oddest has to be THE FLINTSTONES, an animated TV series loosely based on the live action TV series, THE HONEYMOONERS. Eventually a live action feature was made of THE FLINTSTONES. So from TV to Cartoon to Live Action. And even then there is the new feature based on THE HONEYMOONERS. Guess it is true what goes around, comes around.
June 23, 2005
Torn From Today's Headlines! This banner often appeared in movie ads. It was usually for films about notorious gangsters, social unrest, or taboo subjects (like unwed mothers). These were all shocking stories that "needed to be told", as one ad shouted. However today it seems any news item gets a movie deal. A woman calls 911 to help catch a criminal. A deal is announced for an upcoming movie. A woman runs out on her wedding day. A deal is announced for an upcoming movie. (Actually, wasn't this originally a Julia Roberts' movie?) A man confirms he was a source in a 1970s political battle. A deal is announced for an upcoming movie. Guess the ad for that will be "Torn from the Headlines of 30 Years Ago!" It makes one wonder what news item is next. A feature based on the boy scout who survived three days in the wild? A TV-movie on the giant popsicle that melted in New York? (That could be a horror film to double-bill with a feature based on Bill Cosby's giant chicken heart.) How about a film on the voting scandal on American Idol? It did make the front pages. And if any news item should be "torn" from the headlines it should be all the stories about TV shows. I am still dismayed that TV shows can be front page news. But then, saying "Torn from the pages of US Magazine" just doesn't sound as thrilling.
June 22, 2005
America On Parade. Disneyland will be offering many pins as part of their 50th anniversary. The pins mark the dates of events in the Park's history from the opening of the Tiki Room to the debut of The Electrical Parade. One pin particularly caught my eye. It is titled "Celebrating the U.S. Bicentennial". The pin has Donald in 1776 garb. My mind instantly wondered. "Is that it?" No pin for America On Parade? "A.O.P.", as it was referred to, was a gigantic parade that debuted on June 14, 1975. It ran for over a year. It was probably the last massive parade done in the Park. As an employee of the time, I remember hearing how Disney was so tight on the parade contractors' payments, several ended up in bankruptcy. I remember people would begin lining the street three hours before the parade start in order to get a seat! I remember the parade brought in hundreds of new employees who, at first, worked only on the parade, but eventually went into regular Park operations. (Due to the strenous dancing requirements, it caused a huge influx of gay male employees into the Park.) I also remember hearing of the controversy of how some Park execs did not like the parade, but were forced to put it on. Finally, there was July 4th, 1976. I was Eeyore that day. The Park became so crowded, characters were taken off the streets. In fact, over 40,000 people attended the Park that day. It was the biggest attendance in Disneyland history. Today, the parade and all the bicentennial hoopla seems forgotten. Perhaps it is because, at a time when the Park gets over 80,000 visitors a day, 40,000 seems insignificant. Perhaps it is because the whole bicentennial event has been overshadowed by the turn of the century (Y2K). Perhaps it is because that was a time when the nation pulled together to celebrate its heritage and freedom, while today we find ourselves constantly battling to keep those freedoms. Those who worked at the Park, or even visited the Park during that time no doubt still have definite memories. Like the elephant in the living room, America On Parade was impossible to ignore. But seemingly not impossible to forget.
June 21, 2005
Lists. I hate them. Tonight they are showing an AFI special with the top 100 movie quotes. Have no idea who the "winner" will be... and do not care. (Seems a few years ago they did a survey and the top quote was "My name is Bond. James Bond" from DR. NO. Not a bad choice.) I have never been a big fan of lists, and have never understood the popularity of such. Seems I am often having folks ask me to list the top ten movies, cartoons, people, whatever. If forced into it, I will struggle to come up with 10 favorites and then list them alphabetically. I guess the reason I am against such lists is that, for me, they are in constant change. Today, the movie I want to see might be ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENTSTEIN. Tomorrow it might be SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. Yesterday it might have been PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. Would all three be on my top ten lists. Maybe today. Maybe not tomorrow. Guess I just don't like creative competitions. Not that I can't pick a "winner". If you give me some candidates, I will gladly vote for my favorite in that list. But just don't have me make the list.
Was sad to hear of the passing of a good friend, Bruce Hamilton, earlier this month.
June 20, 2005
It is the evening of the Summer Solstice. It has always been a time of ceremonies for ancient societies. Stonehenge was supposedly used for rites during the Solstice. Wiccans and Pagans will be celebrating the start of summer. Generally they will celebrate what they have accomplished in the past year, as they honor the future year. Some will celebrate with bonfires. Some will wear special colors. Some will make love, for supposedly women are particularly fertile. Some will cut wands or divining rods. For those not so inclined, it is simply the marking of the beginning of Summer, which officially starts tomorrow, the 21st. It is also the longest day of the year... no matter how long others may have seemed so far.
June 19, 2005
Happy Dad's Day!
June 18, 2005
"Life on a leash."
- Tramp, from Disney's LADY AND THE TRAMP.
When I was growing up, there were two technologies that looked neat. One was the rocket pack seen in Buck Rogers. The other was the two-way watch radio used by Dick Tracy. I actually saw a rocket jet pack used in the 1960s. It was a promotion for a mouthwash. However it took until the last few years for Dick Tracy's tiny, two-way communicator to come to life via the cel phone. And this is where, as in so many sci-fi films, science runs amuck. Originally a useful device for doctors and others who needed instant contact, the cel phone has become more of a leash on society. More and more I see folks 'connected' by these devices. No longer little boxes that ring or buzz like a 60's STAR TREK communicator, now they attach directly to the ear and are worn like odd hearing aids or dangling headphones. Even at Disneyland, where one is supposedly getting away from it all, you see (or actually hear) hundreds of people talking about dinner tonight, a movie they want to see, reporting on what they are doing and more. A bizarre take on 1984's big brother, society seems to have given in to these cellular leashes that keep them forever tied to something else. Reminds me of a professor in college who talked of how the government and business manipulated people. His example was a question. Would anyone allow the government to put a device in their house in which a bell would ring anytime the goverment wanted to contact them? Of course the entire class stated they would want no such intrusion. The professor then asked if anyone had a phone in their house. Being constantly in contact with another person, your office, even the government is more than life on a leash... it is almost a life without freedom.
June 17, 2005
Bugged by TV. It was annoying enough when networks began randomly flashing their little see-through identity bugs. Now the bugs are on almost throughout the whole program. It is amazing how much information they can block. On one of the series I'm working on, the bug almost always covers up a name of one of key talents of the show. In fact, to adapt we have begun using storyboard paper that has the bug indicated. This is so the storyboard artist does not put any important information in that area. However, now it is going beyond the bug. So many channels run banners across the bottom quarter of screen. Some have animated banners that slide on and then slide off. No wonder people are buying more TV shows on DVD. It is the only way to see the whole picture. Just as filmmakers began directing their films to be TV-friendly, by keeping the action more centered, I expect them to soon start planning around the loss of the entire bottom third of the screen. I wonder. If computers can be programmed to eliminate pop up ads, can someone come up with a device that will eliminate pop up network 'bugs'? Talk about a million dollar idea!
June 16, 2005
Pencil animation versus pixel animation. Though the differences are often discussed, it is not always easy to compare directly. However you can get an idea thanks to the new FATHER OF THE PRIDE dvd set. It features all the episodes of the short-lived cgi series. The series itself was not great, but when watching the episodes in the correct order, one can see the show's writers and directors were getting more into the characters. There is actual improvement. It makes one almost believe that if the series had been given a second season, it might have become a hit. (The list of shows that almost died the first season runs from THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW to EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND.) But back to the comparison. Along with all the episodes, including ones never aired in this country, there is one that was never completed. It exists in the animatic (storyboard) stage. Hence you get to watch an episode where the characters are drawn by hand. It is fascinating to see the expressions and posing in the drawings. Some make the characters very LION KING-ish. It also shows how the series might have looked if it had been done in hand animation and not cgi. That is kind of neat.
June 15, 2005
It was ten years ago today that Rachel moved into our mountain home. At the time, the house was a 'vacation' place for me. I offered her a chance to move in to 'get away' from an unpleasant situation. Much to my surprise it grew into much more. She quickly turned the house into a home. A decade later, she, Nikoma and Tember are still here. It has been a decade of surprises. I look forward to many more decades of the same.
June 14, 2005
Fairness and equality. When I was growing up, these were terms used to elevate people or "raise the bar". But that seems to be an old fashioned notion. It seems many of today's politicians want to use the terms to bring down people. I think this whenever I hear the debate over pensions. Several states are proposing pension "reform". Our governator is even calling a special election to deal with the "problem". The "problem", as these legislators see it, is that the cost of pensions is growing too high. The reason for this growth is not because pension rates are going up. There are simply more people retiring and drawing their pensions. Time and again I hear these politicians talk about equality and fairness. They tell us how the pensions of public employees (which include teachers, the police and fire fighters) are too rich. They tell us the pensions are more than the average person gets, and thus it is unfair. The politicians say the answer is to reduce the pensions. Sad to say, there are a lot of people who agree with this idea. In my mind, the politicians should not be fighting to lower the public employees' pension, they should be fighting to give all Americans pension equal to public servants. When women wanted the vote, women said they needed it because it was unfair and inequal. When the Supreme Court said seperate was not equal, they indicated all children deserved an equal education. Both times the terms "equal" and "fair" were used to indicated that we needed to improve things. If women could not vote, the solution was to give them the vote. Not take it away from men. If Black schools were less funded than White schools, the solution was to raise the quality of Black schools. Not to cut funding of White schools. If one sector of society is lucky enough to have an adequate pension, why should they be punished because corporations do not wish to offer equal benefits. (Heck, Enron employees now have no pension.) Social Security is in peril. Politicians say "individual accounts" are the answer. Well, pensions ARE individual accounts. It seems cruel to threaten retirees and upcoming retirees with less pension benefits while also demanding reduced Social Security benefits. If these politicians fought the big corporations and insisted on equal, adequate pensions, perhaps Social Security would not be such a big issue. That would be truly fair and equal.
June 13, 2005
Was watching an old videotape today and it made me think of a number of things about TV and the FCC. The tape was one I had done while AMC was having a film festival. This was done nearly a decade ago, when AMC was really American Movie Classics. What caught my eye was a commercial about AMC. They were selling some newly restored Hitchcock films on video, in which the proceeds went to AMC's restoration division. Now all AMC does is show edited movies, laden with commercials. You might as well watch network TV. In more recent news, a major network cancelled several series not because they were doing poor in the ratings, but because they were doing poor in the ratings for ages 18-49. That goes along with news a year ago when the History channel indicated it was interested in finding younger speakers. The network did not care if the speakers were authorities on the topics, only that they be young. And now Animal Planet has "Whoaa Sunday". This is a shell they put around more series documentaries where a young host acts like an ass. Appropriately, the recent episode had him talking to a his roommate, an ass. Now bring this back to the FCC. These appointed commissioners (I could use the new sting word 'activist' commissioners) are very worried about someone seeing a pastie on Janet Jackson, an cartoon butt in a cartoon or mispoken word. Why aren't they worried about an entire generation or two being totally shut out of the television market. The FCC forces networks to run educational programs for children. Why don't they force networks to program for adults? Why don't they force networks to spend time and money in restoration programs of historical media? The FCC claims to be protecting the public airwaves. Well, I am the public too! When are they going to protect me? I want serious documentaries. I want real science. I want news that questions our institutions, governmental and public. That would really be servicing the public.
June 12, 2005
Swap Meets. You really can never tell what you will see at one. Today we wandered down to the weekly event at the bottom of the mountain. It is not a gigantic thing like the Rose Bowl or PCC, but it still offers a lot of surprises. Most of the surprises and smiles come from the memories brought on by the merchandise. Saw a tiny, maybe four inches by six inches, picture of a collie guarding a lamb. Remembered we had a larger version of this painting hanging in our home in the 1950s. Saw a Wolf Scout pin that reminded me of my days in the scouts. There was a "Cooking with Alf" doll that was a fast food promo when the series was still on the air. Saw a variety of happy meal or other remants of animated characters and series long forgotten, even though some were as recent as the 1990s. Series like FENDER BENDER 500 (which aired as part of WAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL) and MIGHTY MAX (which I wrote an episode of), along with icons like Mac (of McDonald's supper club fame) and an El Pollo Loco chicken. Course there were hundreds of video tapes, with many still thinking they could squeeze $5 for a tape, when most vendors were unable to move any at only $1 per tape. I could have spent a hundred bucks on all sorts of memories and wacky stuff. But got away with only $2.25. $1 for a plush duck for one of the kids. $1 for a video for two other kids. 25-cents for a Yu-Gi-Oh pin. Hope to trade that at an upcoming Disney pin trading night. In many respects, I get as many laughs and tears going to a swap meet as I do watching a good movie.
June 11, 2005
Just got a copy of the Walt Disney Treasure "Disneyland USA" dvd. Spent some of this afternoon watching the first part, "The Disneyland Story", the live broadcast of opening day at the Park. It is truly a fascinating piece of TV history. Though a fairly common event today, it was as an "impossible" undertaking for a TV network as Disneyland was an "impossible" dream of Walt's. The broadcast is rushed, riddled with flubs, cursed with technical troubles and generally chaotic. Yet through all this it is easy to see how Disney's idea of a family theme park was an exciting concept. Oddly, less concerned with what was shown, I kept being drawn into what was not seen. Every time they went to a location at the edge of the park, all one could see was orange groves. Today, one can see nothing but hotels, restaurants, shops and cars. Inside the park, is an equally huge amount of undeveloped property. Watching as the camera panned along Main Street, Frontierland, Adventureland and such, I was taken with what seemed like acres of vacant land. Compared to today's park where, even on a quiet day, everything seems so crowded in. Everywhere one looks you see buildings, fences, vehicles and carts. When Walt began plans for Disney World in Florida, his key goal was to buy as much land around the park as possible to keep it from being surrounded by the wild growth seen in Anaheim. Oddly, this video history shows that the inside of the Park had an equal population explosion and building expansion as outside the Park.
June 10, 2005
MADAGASCAR. Saw the film today and really enjoyed it. Fun characters. Funny visual gags. Fun dialogue. Funny animals. In fact, it may be Dreamworks best feature. Despite it being a lot of fun, it is not perfect. The plot is far from original. (I pitched the same idea to Disney back in the 1980s.) The voice work is too celebrity focused. However, the film overcomes such faults with a breezy style. Unlike many current animated films, there is no heavy handed humor or wink-wink nudge-nudge satire. The film makers seemed content to make a film that was fun to watch rather than constantly trying to show they were clever. Oddly, the film reminded me of MOULIN ROUGE and SILENT MOVIE. Two films that had slim plots that operate as clotheslines to hang musical numbers (MOULIN) or gags (SILENT). Like the classic shorts of Bob Clampett, Hanna-Barbera and the Three Stooges, the film is just fun to watch. The highest praise I can give it came from Rachel when she commented afterward it was the first time, in a long time, that I laughed out loud at a movie. In fact, to her surprise, I laughed a number of times. Friends often complain my extensive viewing of classic films 'spoils' me for newer films. This is a case where even though I often knew what was coming, it was still fun getting there.
June 9, 2005
MADAGASCAR. Dreamworks latest feature looks like it could be fun. I generally enjoy animated animal characters more than human ones. The movie has already done something amazing. It debuted at number two in the box-office. The next week it moved up to number one, knocking STAR WARS III out of the top spot! Another surprise, at least to me, is that I have not seen animation sites mention the character design similarities to the art of Gustaf Tenggren's. Doubly surprising since Tenggren's style was so key to early Disney features like SNOW WHITE and PINOCHIO. Tenggren's "Scrawny Tawny Lion" Little Golden Book looks to be a direct ancestor of the lion in MADAGASCAR. The Dreamworks fansite does mention that character design "was inspired by a variety of classic cartoons, as well as several children's picture books". But no one seems to have made the Tenggren connection. The designer for the film is Craig Kellman. I worked with Craig on his first job in the business at Film Roman. (Hi Phil!) Craig was a big fan of retro art, particularly the classic (1950s/60s) Hanna-Barbera style. He is one of the most talented, most busy, and most desired craftspeople working in the business today. It is nice to see Craig continues to draw from the classics. (No pun intended... well maybe a bit.)
June 8, 2005
General Motors announced they will eliminate 25,000 jobs. *whew* I like the way the corporate spin meisters are soft peddling this. They claim there will be no jobs "lost" because the cuts will be through attrition as folks retire. In the world I work in, when folks retire, their jobs are taken over by new employees. So with GM's plan, there are 25,000 less jobs for those coming out of school or currently looking for work. On top of that, GM is claiming they will need to reduce employee's pension. Their reasoning is that when GM offered the pension, the company did not know how expensive things would get. Well, there's an old saying that "what's good for General Motors is good for America." So I will follow their lead. That GM car I bought. It has dropped in value much faster than I expected. So maybe I will stop making the payments. Oh, and since the war in Iraq is more expensive than we were told, I say we just stop paying for that, too. I guess following GM's lead on this could be good for the country.
June 7, 2005
WB has announced they will drop their afternoon block of cartoons. It is the end of an era created back in the first TV animation boom of the 1980s. Originally after school kids programming was mostly re-runs of older cartoons. DIC, Mattel and Filmation changed all that with the debuts of INSPECTOR GADGET and HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Suddenly stations saw that new animation got better ratings than repeats. Soon there was all manner of cartoon shows from MY LITTLE PONY to THUNDERCATS. As independent studios and series grew, the big guys took notice. FOX, Disney and WB all began their own afternoon blocks. Disney's Afternoon was a spot for new series like TALE SPIN and DARKWING DUCK. FOX and WB used their time to create new series like PETER PAN AND THE PIRATES and TINY TOONS and promote their new Saturday morning blocks. With Nickelodeon's entry into animation, along with the Disney Channel and Cartoon Network, broadcast TV lost more and more audience. The Disney Afternoon was the first to go. Then FOX dropped their weekday block. Now with WB gone, the afternoons are filled with sitcoms and news shows. At least WB still has their Saturday morning block. For now.
June 6, 2005
After all, they are 'moving pictures.' That was a joke I used to use back at Tom Carter. It seemed that we were always moving from one location to another. And once in a location, moved from one office to another. At some studios, Disney, Fox, Bluth, we usually only moved when the entire studio moved. At Carter, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, moving is simply a part of production. Generally one moves to keep crews of a series near each other. Then there are the moves necessitated by the flow of production. When the crew is small, it can be in one area. As it grows during full production, the crew needs more space and may move. I have been at Cartoon Network for nearly five years. In that time, I have been in 8 different offices. One twice. This week I move again, to a new building. Production has expanded to the point that not all series can fit into the official building. My group will be in good company as several key departments and two key series will be joining us. Some are thrown into panic by such moves. Having spent my first two decades moving from city to city, I am used to it. If nothing else, moves are a good reason to go through things and decide what is really important. Everyone should do that at least once in a lifetime... preferably more.
June 5, 2005
No bark... Back late from Disneyland pin trading night.
June 4, 2005
Chip 'n' Dale. Killed time tonight watching the dvd of Chip 'n' Dale cartoons. Easily two of Disney's cutest critter creations. What was fun to watch was how little the characters' designs were locked down. While Pluto and Donald Duck, Chip 'n' Dale's most common co-stars, were firmly established and followed, it seems the studio artists took liberties with the chipmunks' looks. The chipmunks necks, faces, sizes, actions, voices and expressions shifted from cartoon to cartoon, and even in a cartoon. For example in OUT OF SCALE, Dale's nose goes from dark brown to red depending on the scene. Despite this lack of consistency in design, the cartoons all feature clever gags, good character bits and true charm. No wonder the duo is still one of the most popular of the Disney family of characters. The only 'downer' on the dvd is the inclusion of TWO CHIPS AND MISS. Though many folks, including Rachel, love this short which introduced Clarice, I am always annoyed because it pits Chip against Dale. But even it is better than when Disney revived the team for CHIP AND DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS. Am glad to see that series is mostly forgotten. Today, Chip and Dale are just two crazy chipmunks. Oh, and the key to telling them apart, usually, is the nose. Chip's nose is dark brown. Think "chocolate chip". Oh... and neither is the girl.
June 3, 2005
TV on DVD is allegedly peaking. The experts state that so much stuff has come out, mostly the "a" material, that sales will start to fall. I hope they are wrong. Now that so many long running, almost never un-running hits, from STAR TREKs to SOPRANOS to SIMPSONS have come out, they can start bringing out the fun, seldom seen stuff. It is amazing with the hundreds of cable channels it can be so hard to find classic TV still being broadcast. (A blogger and ex-associate often wishes for an all black and white channel.) Luckily, DVDs do not need to worry about ratings or image. Coming soon to a video retailer near you, or your computer, is the classic animated series DANGERMOUSE. This witty, British series was Nickelodeon's first big hit in the 1980s. It put the Cosgrove-Hall studio on the map. After several years of top ratings on cable, it moved to syndication where it quickly died and became almost forgotten. Also coming soon is the original, black-and-white ASTROBOY. This 1960s series was the origin of the Anime industry. Often re-done, even by the creator, Osamu Tezuka, the original has always been full of life and imagination, despite extremely limited animation. Both of these series deserve as much air time as the 10,000th repeat of a SIMPSONS episode. It is nice to see such old friends coming back. I hope more and more will soon be joining them.
June 2, 2005
When driving up the mountain at night, my mind wanders. Frequently it comes across those thoughts that you wonder if only you think. For example, is it just me, or...
Is death more profitable than life? Families of those who died on 9/11 have received lots of money. Those who survived, and helped others survive still are some of the most underpaid folks around. Soldiers who die in battle receive instant benefits and are announced as heroes. Those who survive and return often find homelessness, inadequate healthcare and general neglect.
Do those new cel phones, that look like a pencil attached to your ear, remind you of those who have been assimilated by the Borg on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION? And, when you suddenly hear someone talking to someone not visible, does it make you first think that it is a homeless, street person rambling?
Is 'special interest group' just a modern, politically correct term for what was referred to in the 1960s and 70s as 'radicals', 'nut groups', 'wackos', 'facists', 'tree huggers', 'religous nuts', 'vocal minorities', 'flag wavers', and 'geeks'?
Democrats are criticized for having too wide a base of interests, basically a whole bunch of human rights issues. Republicans are criticized for having too limited a set of interests, basically the issues of the right. Since fanaticism is often more successful than diligence, would the Democrats be more successful if they only focused on one human right?
June 1, 2005
Had a friend mention they had just seen DREAM ON, SILLY DREAMER - the documentary about the closing of the Disney animation studio. It made me wonder, again, why folks spend so much time focusing on the goings on of a movie studio. I guess since folks can get wrapped up in everything from ALL MY CHILDREN to NIP/TUCK, studios should be no different. To my mind, the golden age of Disney was an anchor for quality, imaginative entertainment as much as MGM was the home for musicals. But the golden age of films, when moguls did things their way and were left alone, is long gone. It is ironic that much of the Disney fan focus is on the closure of the animation division. Talk to those who worked at Disney during the golden era and they will tell you they thought Walt was going to close the animation division down during the 1950s! Seems Disneyland had caught his fancy. For Walt's last decade, Disneyland grew, along with Walt's desire for more parks. Meanwhile, the films became less and less imaginative. After Walt's death Ron Miller continued on producing generally bland movies (with occasional exceptions like THE RESCUERS and TRON) and expanding the number of parks with Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. There was some grumbling, but Ron worked hard to keep things the way "Walt would have done it." However by the 1980s times had changed. People saw Disney as a big company that should have big dreams... and, more importantly, big profits. Status quo was no longer a positive direction. Miller was out and Eisner was in. Eisner moved into the mouse house slicing and dicing deparments and traditions. Suddenly profits were up. The studio was producing hit movies, building parks everywhere and squeezing every dollar out of consumers as possible. Everyone was happy. But nothing lasts forever. As the films became less exciting and the parks less profitable, the stockholders wanted more. So, now Eisner is on his way out. Disney's new boss will be in the tradition of all new studio bosses... a dealmaker who can make profits soar, or be out on their can in a year. I will admit to being fascinated by all the drama at Disney, just as I was about many studios in my college days... but I really can't get excited over it anymore. Disney. Enron. Halliburton. Etc. All are just members of the cast of corporate soap operas. And I was never a big fan of soap operas.
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