The Penguins beat the top toons! I’m Realistic Fish Head. Last night was the big shocker for the toon world as The Penguins of Madagascar beat out SpongeBob, Sid the Science Kid and Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness for outstanding kid’s show this year. Gene Scallop has the dish of the rest of the winners!
Gene: What an upset! The Penguins earn the top prize after earning 2 at the Creative Emmys. With the two they earned along with the Daytime Emmy kid show award they now have, things are sure they have the best chance of continuing their Season 3 run and ending it should it end this year. The kids chose wisely on this toon. Why? Because all the Penguins fans are cheering for victory now that they are the top toon this year. They’re also keeping a close watch on some juicy episodes coming soon. Anther factor along with the countdown to the finale is, the show could be on its last ounce of stealth as well as returning characters.
Because history tells us that the current season 3 mission briefings may be over soon enough thus ending the show as reported last week and the weeks before last night’s Creative Emmys including all of the other factors recently mentioned in the show. Remember Private’s promise? I’m sure you’ll know soon.
Here some the shows that earned the Daytime Emmy this year:
General Hospital, the only surviving daytime drama on ABC, won Best Drama Series at the 39th Daytime Emmy Awards tonight and the entire cast took to the stage (pictured) to accept the soap’s 11th win in the category. Earlier in the show, which took place at the Beverly Hilton and was carried live on HLN, General Hospital‘s Anthony Geary accepted his award for best lead actor in a drama series and thanked ABC for renewing the bubble show “instead of canceling it to make room for Celebrity Boob Jobs Gone Wrong,” a reference to the broadcast network replacing all canceled soaps so far with unscripted fare.
NBC’s Today show, which after a long run comfortably at the top of the ratings is enduring a formidable ratings challenge from rival nominee Good Morning America, took the award for Best Morning Show. It was a welcome reprieve for the embattled NBC show, which also is facing a shakeup, with co-host Ann Curry expected to exit. The syndicated Live With Regis and Kelly, which has aired as Live With Kelly with Kelly Ripa and guest co-hosts since Regis Philbin’s November departure, landed its first Emmy for best entertainment talk show. Neither Philbin or Ripa, who later in the show were awarded the Emmy for Best Talk Show Host, were present. The best informative talk show trophy went to the syndicated The Doctor Oz Show for a second straight year, while The View executive producer Bill Geddie received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Susan Lucci of the cancelled ABC soap All My Children took the stage at the awards show to express her gratitude for being a part of the series and for the privilege of playing the “glamorous” and “deliciously flawed” Erica Kane for 41 years. “The part of a lifetime.” In a nod to all the fans — and they are legion — who’ve told her how much they miss the show and Erica, she said she recently read an appropriate response for its loss: “Don’t cry because something is over, smile because it was.”
Here’s the List Of Winners that earned themselves a Daytime Emmy:
General Hospital (ABC)
DRAMA SERIES DIRECTING TEAM
General Hospital (ABC)
WRITING IN A DRAMA SERIES
Days of Our Lives – NBC
LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Anthony Geary, as Luke Spencer General Hospital (ABC)
LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Heather Tom, as Katie Logan Spencer
The Bold and the Beautiful, CBS
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jonathan Jackson as Lucky Spencer
General Hospital, ABC
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nancy Lee Grahn, as Alexis Davis
General Hospital, ABC
YOUNGER ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Chandler Massey, as Will Horton
Days Of Our Lives, NBC
YOUNGER ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Christel Khalil, as Lily Winters
The Young and the Restless, CBS
TALK SHOW – INFORMATIVE
The Doctor Oz Show – Syndicated
TALK SHOW – ENTERTAINMENT
Live With Regis and Kelly – SYNDICATED
GAME / AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION SHOW Participation Show
Jeopardy! – SYNDICATED
Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction – Food Network
CHILDREN’S ANIMATED PROGRAM
Penguins of Madagascar – Nickelodeon
PERFORMER IN A CHILDREN’S SERIES
Kevin Clash as Elmo – Sesame Street -PBS
AOL VIRAL VIDEO AWARD
Kids React – Fine Brothers Productions – YouTube
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Bill Geddie, Executive Producer of The View
Pack yourself some long sleeves because we’re headed for Scotland! That’s right Pixar fans, Brave is the top movie this week as were introduced to the studio’s first heroine ever! It’s also lucky 13 as luck itself is on their side. Yep, this is the 13th Pixar movie to crack the top spot. As the movie scores better than Madagascar 3 which stayed #1 for two weeks, Brave is best suited for girls of all ages. And like Madagascar 3, It passed with flying colors!
Fox’s Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is mix of the Twilight movies. It scored low much less than Rock of Ages and That’s My Boy. Madagascar 3 as mentioned before, was better than Brave which scored 66 million smackers this week that Merida, the Scottish teenager, was the best choice for this film as this report describes:
Recently, Pixar President Ed Catmull was quoted as saying Disney Feature Animation would not be doing fairy-tale movies, to the outcry of many fans of Disney and animation everywhere. After watching Pixar’s Brave, I have to wonder whether Catmull’s directive was to avoid showing Disney up at their own game. Brave is a very well-done, thoroughly enjoyable movie that shows some nice evolutionary growth of the Disney animated fairy tale film, and the "Princess" sub genre in particular. Unfortunately, like Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, Brave doesn’t add enough to avoid the feeling that we’ve seen a lot of this before. As we’ve come to expect from Pixar, it’s perfectly acted and animated, and it’s plotted with care and heart. However, we’ve also been conditioned by Pixar to expect greatness, and the moments when it seems to be merely echoing other similar films come just a bit too frequently for Brave to ascend to the expected heights.
The lead of Brave is the princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald), a free-spirited teenager whose penchant for unladylike activities like archery often bring her to loggerheads with her strait-laced mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), has issued a call to the other three clans of the kingdom, inviting each to send their firstborn to compete for Merida’s hand. Irked at being treated like some kind of carnival prize, Merida upends the entire ceremony by out shooting all her suitors. The ensuing fight with her mother drives Merida from the castle to the nearby forest, where magical Will of the Wisps lead her to a strange witch in the woods (Julie Walters). As with many fairy tales, Merida learns too late to be careful for what you wish for, as she makes a fateful deal with the witch to "change her fate." The result is a terrible curse, which I opt to leave unstated because the twist has been successfully hidden in the trailers so far and is one of the best surprises of the movie. I will add that the curse sends her off on a journey across the land to set things right, and links her to the monstrous demonic bear Mor’du, who bit off her father’s leg in an encounter years earlier.
At its very best, Brave feels like it’s forging something new, as untamed as Merida’s wild (and gorgeously rendered) hair. At these moments, it comes close to the recent Disney classics like Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin. There’s a potent mixture of an appealing leading character backed by a fine supporting cast, with just a touch of magic to nudge the story off into interesting directions. The archery scene from the trailer is one example, drawing on powerful archetypes to create a heroine that really stands out from the crowd at Disney and Pixar. It made for a wonderful trailer for the movie, and it still stands strong in context. The wild forests of Scotland and their ghostly Will of the Wisps are highly reminiscent of the untamed lands in Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, and forms a fine backdrop for Merida’s unusual hero’s journey. If nothing else, it’s nice to see a Princess who doesn’t want or need a Prince in her tale. Her development through the film incorporates the standard-issue "follow your heart" self-actualization, but tempers it with lessons on accepting the obligations that you have to others. Brave also fully redeems Scottish brogues in animated films after Mike Myers’ affectation in the Shrek movies made many subsequent ones rather suspect. The fact that they’re almost all done by genuine Scots certainly helps. Kelly MacDonald gives a spirited, charming performance as Merida, and I’m quite fond of Billy Connolly’s boisterous King Fergus. Emma Thompson makes the most of the relatively thankless role of Queen Elinor, whose major function is to be uptight and make Merida’s life miserable. Her Scottish accent slips every now and then, but she still manages to bring across the depths of warmth and affection for her family even as they exasperate her. The spirited arguments between Elinor and Merida also have a powerful ring of truth to them, and the moment when they both cross lines that they shouldn’t feels genuine and real and truly uncomfortable to watch.
However, it’s the echoes of those earlier movies which ultimately keep Brave from true greatness. While its best moments yield the same emotional highs of movies like Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin or Princess Mononoke, there are a few too many others when Brave just feels like it’s merely echoing them, feeling much more derivative as a result. Despite their modern affectations, those movies all tapped into the Jungian collective unconscious to make the old tales feel new again. Too often, scenes in Brave feel like they’ve been lifted from other Disney fairy tale films, not tapping that collective unconscious as much as they’re just riding the coattails of their predecessors. It’s hewing too closely to formula instead of striking out in truly new directions. One of the climactic scenes of the movie is an almost direct quote from one of those movies, and even if it is still tremendously effective at tugging at the emotional heartstrings, it wasn’t successful enough to keep my brain from noticing the visual quote. I kept thinking, "Oh, that reminds me of…" instead of getting swept up in the story the way I do with the movies Brave was reminding me of.
I also think Brave suffers a bit from the same inconsistency in tone that hamstrung many of Disney’s movies after the initial three "Renaissance" movies. King Fergus is an entertainingly boorish bear of a man, but he’s still entirely credible when he puts his war face on to do battle with Mor’du. Not so fortunate are the three competing lords, Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane), Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), and Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), who never manage to rise above the buffoonish. They and their sons are just a little too hard to take seriously, although they never sink to the levels of Terk and Tantor in Disney’s Tarzan or the execrable Mushu in Mulan. I’m also not entirely convinced that Brave’s semi-serious take for the witch was the best choice. She is definitely not played for menace, as with Ursula from The Little Mermaid or Jafar from Aladdin, but she’s also not played strictly for laughs. In the end, she comes off as a half-daffy, half-serious plot device whose motives aren’t unscrupulous or mysterious, but just puzzling, and whose role in the film ends up being a lot smaller than it feels like it ought to be. It’s also a minor thing, but I feel like the Will of the Wisps were supposed to have the same subtle sense of menace of Miyazaki’s tiny forest spirits in Princess Mononoke, and they don’t quite get all the way there (although, to be fair, "doesn’t do something quite as well as Hayao Miyazaki" is perhaps the best criticism/left-handed compliment you can get).
Despite whatever criticisms I have for it, I still found Brave to be quite satisfying in the end, and a more and better evolution of the Princess movie than The Princess and the Frog. It’s probably only Pixar that can be criticized for producing only a very good movie and not a great one, but as I said, the studio has conditioned us for greatness. The press screening was in 3D, and while it was fine and unobtrusive, I would recommend against it. The glasses make everything darker and murkier, doing an injustice to the lovingly rendered lush greens of Scotland and making some scenes barely visible, and the added sense of depth does not compensate for the losses. Brave is preceded by the utterly charming, genuinely magical short "La Luna," in which a son is inducted into family traditions by his father and grandfather. It is an absolutely triumph, even if it manages to capture.
Brave takes the top position with Madagascar 3 in 2nd, Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter takes 3rd with Prometheus at 4th, and The Huntsman at 5th as the hunt continues.
With the Kids’ award in the flippers of the Penguins, let’s check the tally!
319 left to sign in! Look like Penguin fans are racing against the clock and history to deny them that it will be a 4th season. But will history backfire on them once the petition ends on the show or will the fans score a victory once the show resumes? Either way, we’ll definitely know how this month goes and the other months ahead, so keep signing!
Don’t forget folks, since the Sponge has a 10th season going with 37 new episodes, will season 11 have the same amount? We’ll keep you posted!
The Wild Grinders on comic books? That’s the story that everyone’s talking about as Marvel comics takes them from the small screen to the comic scene in an exclusive Bikini Bottom News Extra!
The animation business has changed substantially in the past decade. While once syndicated series built on salable toy franchises ruled the after-school hours, today niche cable networks and DVD markets have cartoons fractioning between pre-school educational shows, outrageous comedy cartoons and more grownup-friendly action-adventures. And one person who’s been with the medium through all of it is Bill Schultz.
As CEO of his own Home Plate Entertainment, Schultz is producing a number of animated projects for cable and on-demand channels, although his history with the form stretches back to the ’80s when he worked at the earliest incarnation of Marvel Productions – the West Coast version of the iconic comic book company that produced everything from Transformers to Muppet Babies. From there, Schultz went on to work for several years with animation powerhouse Film Roman on a variety of cartoons, including the award-winning Bobby’s World as well as a stretch on iconic primetime series The Simpsons.
With his latest series Wild Grinders, Schultz and Home Plate have teamed with reality TV star Rob Dyrdek and Nicktoons for kid-friendly skateboarding adventures. Spinoff Online spoke with Schultz about how his history from pitching superhero series alongside Stan Lee through working on primetime hits like The Simpsons has affected his view of the business at Home Plate and beyond.
SPINOFF: Bill, let’s start in the present before we dive into your very packed history with animation let’s talk about your vision for your new company Home Plate Entertainment. What kinds of projects are you most interested in pursuing?
Bill Schultz: Home Plate is a studio which is primarily an animation studio. What makes it a studio is that we identify great stories and market-driven ideas and properties which we can develop into great entertainment and content, and we can develop, finance, produce, and distribute that content in all media, across all platforms, with a focus on animated or family content. But just like everything else in our world, that is going to change!
Going back — you worked on a TON of shows in your career, starting with your first animation stint with Marvel Productions in the ’80s. What’s your memory of the company then when you worked with Stan Lee and Margaret Loesch (now head of The Hub – the new Hasbro-Discovery kids’ cable network)?
Well, of course, I worked for Marvel “Animation,” which was based here in Los Angeles, as opposed to the comic book part of the company, based in New York. Although he was based here in Los Angeles, Stan worked for both the comic book and the animation company. It’s hard to believe but I remember the days when we would pitch Spider-Man to NBC as a Saturday morning kids show and the network wanted no part of it. Spider-Man was irrelevant to kids. I mean this is Stan Lee himself – go figure. We also had amazing artists like Will Meugniot, Larry Houston, Rick Hoberg, Frank Parr – really great directors and comic book artists doing X-Men and Marvel Super Hero development and pilots – and nobody wanted it. It wasn’t until the X-Men animated series on Fox, or the big Spider-Man movies came along later that the market for Marvel characters and Stan Lee were of real value. It just shows how things can change in this business.
While at Marvel, you worked on two franchises near and dear to comic and sci-fi fans hearts during their formative years: Transformers and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. What do you make of the way those franchises have been revitalized as major film franchises with so much of the story DNA created by the Marvel talent back then?
Marvel Animation produced all of these Hasbro Toy properties for Hasbro’s advertising agency’s production company Sunbow. The incredible animation talent at Marvel brought all of these shows to the American audience in bulk. It’s interesting that most of the animation on these shows was done in Japan at Toei before it became too expensive and the animation moved to Korea. But the style was set in part by Marvel for sure and the creative integrity and Anime DNA built into these toy-driven shows by the “Hollywood meets Japanese” animation techniques is the reason that these brands have the fan base they have today. Marvel also produced Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, for which the studio won a ton of Emmys. It was the number one series on Saturday morning, which back then was just CBS, ABC and NBC.
Through the ’80s and ’90s, you produced a multitude of shows, first at Marvel and then for almost ten years at Film Roman, including comic strip-based shows like Garfield & Friends and Mother Goose & Grimm and well known properties – The Mask, Richie Rich, Felix the Cat, Bobby’s World and Tom & Jerry – not to mention cultural touchstone The Simpsons and other primetime series like King of the Hill and the short-lived The Critic. What are your personal favorites and highlights from those days?
Clearly the highlight was having the opportunity to work with so many super talented, creative iconic people: Matt Groening, Stan Lee, Phil Roman, Jim Brooks, Joe Barbera, Mike Judge, Greg Daniels, Howie Mandel – it’s a long list – and these were all superstars of our industry, and having the chance to pitch gags and story ideas it was crazy. I remember Joe Barbera sitting and drawing Tom & Jerry thumbnails – and then getting up and acting them out. Stan Lee is a great pitch man!
After you left Film Roman, you produced several series for Cartoon Network (Ed, Edd & Eddy, Courage the Cowardly Dog, etc.) and you also partnered with Welsh animator Mike Young in LA, selling half of your company to French animation studio Moonscoop. I think a lot of animation fans don’t immediately think of France as a hotbed of popular, high-quality cartoons. What’s the process like ultimately working in conjunction with European artists and creators as opposed to the model most are familiar with where pre-vis and writing work are done in LA and nuts and bolts animation was done in Asia?
It was the beginning of the globalization of the entertainment industry. In the old days you could be a successful independent animation producer – or any type of independent production company – and just rely on the U.S. market. But with the repeal of the Financial Syndication Interest Rule, which allowed the studios to own networks and the content they broadcast, it forced producers to look to the rest of the world as a market. Our partnership with France was a cultural and creative challenge. But ultimately knowing how to work in a truly collaborative production pipeline is what allows us to continue to develop and create new content. Most TV series animation is still done in Asia, due to cost. But the pre-production and development is done all over the world – anywhere where there are talented artists. Hollywood is still considered the most universal sense of storytelling, probably due to our immigrant history and melting pot of cultural ideas. But there are more and more exceptions every year, and many of the top programs on US television are products of other countries – whether it is The Office or Despicable Me – there are significant chunks of creative from all over the world. Americans are more and more open to international programs every day. Pokémon was not created here in Hollywood.
Animation has gone through a lot of changes since that time – the demise of syndicated animation market, the rise of the 24-7 niche programming cable networks (Nick, CN, Disney ,etc.) and now a growing market for Internet and On Demand channels like Kabillion, which you’ve been involved with. What’s been the most consistent thing about producing and distributing animated cartoons for you? What’s changed the most?
The most consistent thing is that great talent is the key to making good content. Technology has changed everything – the pipeline is all digital and so much more creative. But strong creative talent – artists, writers, directors, actors – is the most fundamental element of the industry, and I always strive to work with the most talented team the budget and schedule will allow! Ideas are important, but execution is all up to the crafts people bringing it to life. No matter what platform or medium, the key to a great project is great talent.
Like I said above, Home Plate Entertainment is currently your home … I’m going to go with “base” instead of making some “plate” pun. And your most recent series is the new Nicktoons show "Wild Grinders", which was created by and stars reality TV personality and skateboarder turned entertainment brand impresario Rob Dyrdek. How’d you hook up with Rob, and what’s been the biggest part of launching a show like this for Home Plate?
Rob wanted to make an animated series for kids, inspired by his childhood skate crew, which he called the Wild Grinders. We pitched him on the idea that we could launch the concept with digital shorts while we were in development for the series. He liked the idea of the immediacy and creative freedom with the short format while we were figuring out how we were going to make the series. Originally, I had developed the show while still at Moonscoop, but I was able to continue the partnership with Rob and his team under the Home Plate Entertainment banner. The most challenging part was to set up a new studio and finance and produce a new series all at the same time. Although having produced so many series over the years, the key was lining up a great team and then just providing a blueprint – like a conductor with a great set of orchestrations. The show is a huge hit, and there is already talk of a second season. We had a great time and Rob and his Exec Producer (and character designer) Tracy Tubera are great to work with. The show is so funny and Rob, who does the voice of the main character Lil Rob, deserves an Emmy for his voiceover work on the series!
Wild Grinders seems like a very personality-driven show, not just as it features Rob’s personal interests but also because you all seem to be working hard with the cast to stay diverse but not play to stereotypes and tokenism. What were the biggest challenges in finding that balance with the characters?
The characters are all based on people that Rob has skated with from the time he was an eleven year-old in Ohio to some characters you might find hanging around the Fantasy Factory! We even have his sister Denise, his Mother Patty, Dad Gene and of course Meaty – Rob’s British Bulldog, who is an amazing skateboarder. We are always sensitive to stereotypes in kids programming because we don’t want the kids modeling negative and harmful behavior. They are so impressionable at the younger age of the audience.
Looking forward, I know you’ve got other projects on tap for both the kids and pre-school market. What kind of shows are you looking to do in the future with Home Plate? Any chance of a return to action-adventure series?
Our second series, which just started post-production, is called Teenage Fairytale Dropouts. It is about the next generation of iconic fairytale characters – like the son of the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk or the daughter of the Tooth Fairy. But just like most teenagers, these kids are rebelling against their parents’ ways. For example, although Jeremiah is the son of the giant, he has not hit his growth spurt and does not want anything to do with “the blood of an Englishman.” We also produced an animated short (Twistmas) for Moshi Monsters – the online kids gaming phenomenon. We also produced the American voiced version of a new series for the new Disney Jr., called Guess How Much I Love You, which was based on the very popular children’s book.
One of the shows I produced which I was very proud of was the new Adventures of He-Man for Cartoon Network and Mattel. Also while at Moonscoop I produced a very cool action show called Hero: 108, which currently is on five-days a week on Cartoon Network here in the US and all over the world in 150 countries. As far as straight action adventure, I love the genre, but with Marvel now owned by Disney and DC owned by Warner Bros., there really isn’t too much demand for independently produced action shows. I don’t think of Bakugan or Monsuno as action shows, but if they sell enough toys – you never know!
Big Time Rush is back this week now that they are now famous after their biggest live concert recently. But will their fame end up with a price to pay? Find out this Monday if it does! This is Realistic Fish Head saying, don’t let fame go to your head!