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Watch: ‘This Is Us’ Star Chris Sullivan Hops to Disney’s ‘Amphibia’

In an upcoming episode of Disney Channel’s new magical animated comedy Amphibiaalready renewed for a second season — star of This Is Us Chris Sullivan pays a visit to the strange swampy land to voice Gunther, a southern tusked frog who lives on the outskirts of Wartwood. In the episode, Sprig’s rare and precious Blue Moon Shell is stolen, so he and Anne investigate to find the thief.

Amphibia chronicles the adventures of teen girl Anne Boonchuy (voiced by Disney Channel alumna Brenda Song) after she is magically transported to a rural marshland full of frog people and meets the excitable young frog Sprig Plantar and his family.

Sullivan’s guest-star episode, “Croak and Punishment,” premieres Monday, July 8 at 10 a.m. on Disney Channel.

Animation Magazine

News Bytes: Ann Sarnoff Heads WB, Dream Theatre Adopts ‘Ninja Hattori,’ Academy Presents Star Wars VFX & More

Japanese Artists Reimagine Countries and Their Flags as Anime Characters for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
National identities and colorful flags get remixed into katana-wielding samurai and warrior priests in this 30-image set from “World Flags.” The team of six artists is committed to representing every competing country by the time the games kick off. …But will they finish the fierce fighters collection before someone else does a series of well-endowed international catgirls?

CALL FOR ENTRIES: 11th 3D Wire
The International Animation, Video Games & New Media Market will return to Segovia, Spain Sept. 30-Oct. 6 and is now calling for submissions to its Portuguese-Spanish Projects (animation, VR, games/apps), New Media, Innovative & Transmedia and Online Series.

Toys ‘R’ Us Rebrands and Returns in 2019
After shuttering last year, the retailer will re-emerge as “Tru Kids,” launching with six new stores this year. According to Bloomberg, the new 10,000 sq. ft. brick-and-mortars will spotlight more experiential offerings, including play areas. Former Toys ‘R’ Us exec Richard Barry is running the new shingle.

Bye-Bye Zoom, Ink and Vertigo: DC to Consolidate Its Publishing Under One Brand
The official announcement confirms recent rumors that mature-leaning imprint Vertigo is downshifting — as har middle grade brand DC Zoom and YA line DC Ink. The new lineup will be DC Kids (readers 8-12), DC (ages 13+) and DC Black Label (for those 17 and up), effective 2020.

Galactic Innovations: ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Rogue One’
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences kicks off its summer program of presentations and screenings with Oscar-winning, Oscar-nominated and Scientific and Technical Award-honored panelists, including Ben Burtt, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Harrison Ellenshaw, Bill George, John Knoll, Marcia Lucas, Dennis Muren, Bruce Nicholson and Rachel Rose discussing a galaxy far, far away. Hosted by “Rogue One” co-producer Kiri Hart. Set for June 27, the event will also livestream on the Oscars YouTube channel.

Dream Theatre Acquires Licensing Rights for ‘Ninja Hattori’ in India
The long-running Indo-Japanese series about an 11-year-old boy and his friend, a little ninja who helps with his daily trials, airs in the country on Sonic and is available to view on Amazon Prime Video, Voot and Netflix. Leading brand management/licensing co. Dream Theatre will build and grow a diverse portfolio of Ninja Hattori apparel, back to school, home, personal care, food, promotions and technology to cater to Ninja Hattori’s massive and ever growing audience in India.

Ninja Hattori’s immense and long standing popularity makes it a stand out show in India for kids and we are thrilled to work with the brand to grow the franchise in the licensing realm. We aim to bring a fresh approach and create an effective, multi faceted, multi category program focused on authenticity, availability and accessibility.” — Jiggy George, Founder & CEO, Dream Theatre Pvt. Ltd.

New Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Ann Sarnoff Is the Woman WarnerMedia Needs
Tapped to replace Kevin Tsujihara, the former BBC Studios Americas President brings concrete streaming media experience to the post, having conceived and built BBC’s North American direct-to-consumer service BritBox into a major success. The weight of an ever deepening field of VOD competitors is now on her shoulders as she shepherd key WB brands like DC, Harry Potter and Looney Tunes into the next media era.

2020 Tokyo Olympics - Vietnam flag

2020 Tokyo Olympics – Vietnam flag

2020 Tokyo Olympics - South Africa flag

2020 Tokyo Olympics – South Africa flag

Ninja Hattori

Ninja Hattori

3D Wire

3D Wire

Animation Magazine

TV Star Marcia Cross Raises Anal Cancer Awareness

WEDNESDAY, June 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) –Marcia Cross, known for her role on “Desperate Housewives,” was diagnosed and treated for anal cancer. Now she wants to call attention to the disease, CBS News reports.

Cross hopes to breakdown the stigma around the disease.

“I know there are people who are ashamed. You have cancer! You have to then also feel ashamed? Like you did something bad, you know, because it took up residence in your anus? I mean, come on, really. There’s enough on your plate,” Cross told CBS. “Even for me, it took a while. Anus, anus, anus! Ha. You just have to get used to it,” she said.

Cross said she’s going great. “I’m feeling back to normal though it’s a new normal,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever take it for granted. I’m the girl who goes to the bathroom now and I go ‘Yes! It’s great what my body can do! I’m so grateful.'”

By sharing her story, Cross hopes others will get up the nerve to talk with their doctors about symptoms such as rectal bleeding, a lump in the anus, or difficulty going to the bathroom.

In 2019, some 8,300 Americans will be diagnosed with anal cancer. Actress Farrah Fawcett died from the illness in 2009.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

‘Aladdin’ Star Mena Massoud Voice Starring in ‘Lamya’s Poem’

Unity Productions Foundation announces that Mena Massoud, star of the upcoming Disney film Aladdin, will play the lead role of Rumi in the upcoming animated feature film Lamya’s Poem. The project is written and will be directed by Alexander Kronemer, with Sam Kadi (The Citizen) as producer and Brandon Lloyd as director of animation for PiP Animation Studios in Canada. Financed by Unity, the film also stars Millie Davis (Wonder) and Faran Tahir (Iron Man).

The film is scheduled for production this summer, with Sam Kadi presenting a teaser for the first time at the Marché du Film in Cannes.

“We’re very excited to have Mena Massoud on this project,” said Kronemer. “We already have an amazing animation team who are pursuing a hybrid 2D-3D style to give the film the look of an animated watercolor. But as good as the visuals are, it’s the performance of the actors who ultimately makes the difference. Mena and his co-stars Millie Davis and Faran Tahir are extremely talented, and Mena has expressed a special affinity to the subject matter, which brings a lot of integrity and insight to his performance.”

Lamya’s Poem follows a 13-year old Syrian refugee (Davis) who tumbles into a dream world where she meets a troubled young poet (Massoud) and must help him write the poem that will save her life.

Massoud voices the Jalal (young Rumi) character in the film. He stars as Aladdin opposite Will Smith in Disney’s live-action remake, directed by Guy Ritchie. He also stars as Tarek Kassar in the series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and can also be seen in the feature film Strange But True.

Davis voices the Lamya character in the film. She is best known for her roles as Summer in the film Wonder, Ms. O in the PBS Kids series Odd Squad, and Gemma Hendrix in the series Orphan Black. She is also the voice of Esme in the Emmy-nominated animated series Esme & Roy.

Tahir voices the Baha Walad (Rumi’s father) character in the film. He appears in numerous American television series and films, best known for his roles as Raza in Iron Man and Captain Robau in Star Trek.

Kronemer is best known for directing, writing and exec producing The Sultan and the Saint, which was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2018. He was the co-writer for the animated feature Bilal: A New Breed of Hero, which won Best Inspiring Movie on Animation Day during the Cannes Film Festival in 2016. He is the co-founder of Unity Productions Foundation, an award-winning media nonprofit.

Kadi is known for producing and directing the award-winning feature drama The Citizen starring Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride). Kadi’s recent acclaimed war zone documentary Little Gandhi was an official entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2017 Oscars.

Animation Magazine

Nickelodeon, CBS Eye Animation Recruited for ‘Star Trek’ CG Series

Nickelodeon and CBS Television Studios have greenlit a new animated Star Trek series, to be developed by Emmy Award winners Kevin and Dan Hageman (Trollhunters, Ninjago) and overseen for Nickelodeon by Ramsey Naito, EVP, Animation Production and Development, Nickelodeon. Debuting exclusively on Nickelodeon, the original CG-animated series expands Gene Roddenberry’s incredible universe for a new generation of fans as it follows a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation.

The series will be from CBS TV’s new animation arm, Eye Animation Productions; Secret Hideout; and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin, Katie Krentz, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth will serve as executive producers alongside Kevin and Dan Hageman. Aaron Baiers will serve as a co-executive producer.

Star Trek’s mission is to inspire generations of dreamers to build a brighter future,” said Kurtzman. “Dan and Kevin have crafted a story that honors its exploratory spirit in a way that’s never been done before, while the Nickelodeon team blew us away with their excitement at bringing Trek to a younger generation around the world.”

Star Trek, Nickelodeon, and the state of animation are doing incredibly ambitious things as of late. We couldn’t be more excited to jump aboard,” said Dan and Kevin Hageman.

“Partnering with CBS Television Studios and the creative masterminds behind the Star Trek franchise is an incredible opportunity and allows our audience to discover rich characters and new stories,” said Naito. “Star Trek is a franchise loved by generations of fans around the globe, and adding Nickelodeon as home to the next animated series is a perfect fit.”

Emmy Award-winning brothers Kevin and Dan Hageman have written and produced some of the biggest animated franchises in film and television. They served as co-executive producers on the Emmy Award-winning series Trollhunters, co-created the hit The LEGO Movie, wrote and executive produced LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu and developed the theatrical The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Additional credits include Hotel Transylvania (story creators) and The Croods 2 (writers), along with the upcoming live-action feature Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (writers).

The animated series is the newest addition to the expanding Star Trek television universe. It joins Star Trek: Discovery and its short formant tie-in Star Trek: Short Treks; the new untitled “Star Trek” series featuring Sir Patrick Stewart reprising his iconic role as Jean-Luc Picard; Star Trek: Lower Decks from Mike McMahan (Rick and Morty), an animated series targeted at mature audiences; and a new project based on Section 31, which is in development with Michelle Yeoh attached to star. All these projects, except the new Nickelodeon edition, are on the CBS streaming platform CBS All Access in the U.S.

The new Star Trek series is the third animated series from CBS Television Studios, following Lower Decks and Our Cartoon President (for Showtime).

Claudia Spinelli, VP Animation Development, Nickelodeon, is the executive in charge of the new animated Star Trek series for Nickelodeon.

Animation Magazine

‘Rise of Skywalker’ Trailer Debuts at Star Wars Celebration

On Friday, director/writer J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy were joined by stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Oscar Isaac, Billy Dee Williams, Naomi Ackie, Joonas Suotamo and Anthony Daniels (and droids BB-8 and D-0) for a panel discussion at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, moderated by Stephen Colbert. The final installment of the Skywalker saga was there revealed as, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, along with the first trailer for the film a brand-new teaser poster.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will open in U.S. theaters on December 20.


Animation Magazine

NFL Star Tiki Barber Says Passing Drug Tests is Easy

Renowned former Giants running back Tiki Barber has now become an investor in the booming industry of legal marijuana and claims that a lot of his customers are NFL players. Barber revealed on FOX business that most NFL players have no trouble stopping the use of marijuana just to clear their annual drug test.

Tiki Barber Claims That Passing Drug Tests are Easy for NFL Players

We always used to call it like the ‘dummy test’ because you know when the test is going to happen so just be clean and as long as you’re not in the program you can probably get away with it even if they technically know that it’s happening,” Barber said.

NFL players are mostly tested for use of recreational drugs once every year, starting on the 20th of April. Once the reports are negative, the players are free to restart the use of marijuana and can freely smoke it until it is time for the next test, which is a year away.

Related:  The 420 Times Guide to Beating a Drug Test for Marijuana.

Barber who has now become a partner in an investment firm that is giving active funds to a startup cannabis business said that NFL should stop suspending their players for using marijuana even when their tests appear positive. This is because many of the players are using it for pain management which is a common part of injuries occurred due to football.

“We’ve seen the punitive nature with which the NFL attacks users of cannabis and I believe a lot of these guys are just self-medicating. They don’t want to be caught in the opioid addiction crisis that has affected a lot of former players because of the constant damage to your knees and your joints and that’s not even to mention the head trauma,” he said.

National Football League logoEven though most players are able to beat the yearly drug test, a handful of players still get into trouble with the league for failing a drug test. Many are already aware that they can continue to use marijuana after the test has passed and as long as they are careful to stop using marijuana on time to pass the test.

The reason why Tiki talked about Marijuana on FOX business is because he wants to the way the NFL is punishing the players who use cannabis.

The 43-year-old-former Pro Bowler aims to back young marijuana and cannabis businesses as the co-founder of Grove Group Management, a company that has already helped many small cannabis businesses. This will help them collectively overcome the evolving regulations on the cannabis and marijuana business.

One of his chief motivations is the way NFL punished players like Martavis Bryant, Josh Gordon, and Randy Gregory.

“We’ve seen the punitive nature with which the NFL attacks users of cannabis,” Barbar told FOX Business. “and I believe a lot of these guys are just self-medicating. They don’t want to be caught in the opioid addiction crisis that has affected a lot of former players because of the constant damage to your knees and your joints, and that’s not even to mentioning the head trauma.”

Currently, its not known to the 420 Times if the NFL uses a urine test or hair follicle drug testing on it’s players.

NFL Star Tiki Barber Says Passing Drug Tests is Easy

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Shane Dwyer
Author: Shane Dwyer
Shane Dwyer is a cannabis advocate who isn’t afraid to tell the world about it! You can find his views, rants, and tips published regularly at The 420 Times.

Marijuana & Cannabis News – The 420 Times

Why Colorado Tokers Love Star Dawg

Anyone who’s spent more than two beers with me has surely heard me call someone a nickname with the word “dog” in it — or, more accurately, dawg. Kramer from Seinfeld? Krame Dawg (though I prefer Krame Dawwwwwgggg). Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee? Yolk Dawg and Plumdawg Millionaire, respectively. And how many times does our cannabis editor, Thomas Mitchell, have to tell you to call him T-Dawg?

Based on name alone, I’ve always been a fan of the Chemdog (yes, that’s the correct spelling) family, but there’s also a lot of weight behind its reputation. Those gassy, pungent smells and mind-bending effects keep it fixed in Colorado’s commercial rotation, birthing such strains as 303 OG, Sour Diesel and — one of my favorites — Star Dawg, a powerful, euphoric hybrid with Chemdog 4 (a Chemdog phenotype) genetics that were crossed with Tres Dawg, an indica with strong Chemdog influences. Tokers who appreciate classic earthy flavors with a skunky, chemical-like twist will love it.

Like most Diesel and Chemdog strains, Star Dawg has an East Coast upbringing, hailing from a breeder by the name of Top Dawg who hung around in the same circles as the breeders of Chemdog and Diesel. Top Dawg now lives in the Denver area, even though his most famous strain made it out here years ago.

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Denver’s appetite for Star Dawg is unquestioned, with the number of dispensaries carrying the strain at any given time usually in the double digits. I’ve seen it at Bgood, Buddy Boy, Eclipse Cannabis, Everbloom, Frosted Leaf, the Farmers Market, The Herbal Cure, Herban Underground, Kind Love, the Kind Room, KrystaLeaves, Lightshade, Oasis Cannabis Superstores, Pando, Peak, RiverRock Wellness, Seed & Smith, the Station, Trenchtown and Whole Meds, and I’m sure there are dozens more. You can also find variants of Star Dawg, like Alien Star Dawg or Star Dawg Guava, at even more stores.

My favorite cut comes from Top Dawg himself, who grows a plump, frosty Star Dawg available at Bgood dispensaries — worth the drive for anyone who appreciates those East Coast sativas. Herban Underground, the Herbal Cure, Kind Love and the Kind Room also carry noteworthy interpretations.

Looks: Star Dawg has big, chunky buds that look like anything from a fist to an ice cream cone, with a classic color combination of forest-green calyxes, rusty pistils, purple leaves and spots, and a web-like cloak of trichomes.

Smell: Woody and spicy with a hint of pine and chemical sourness, Star Dawg’s smell comes in thick, pungent whiffs that go straight up your nostrils.

Flavor: Simple, full of soil and floral notes, with a Chemdog sourness at the end. Anyone who likes “gas” strains should give it a try if they haven’t already.

Effects: Regular tokers will appreciate Star Dawg’s mental lift and quick burst of elation, which can spur creativity and curiosity. Medical benefits have included treating mental anguish, fatigue, eating disorders, headaches and nausea.

Home grower’s take: “Super chemical-y, and with a little pine. But it doesn’t carry that rubbery hit that Sour Diesel does; they’re more like cousins than brothers. Diesel produces a lot more, though, and its high is a little more energetic. That, and Star Dawg is a hungry one in the grow. Other than that, it’s pretty easygoing, [but] I think that’s why Star Dawg never really exploded on the street like other strains.”

Commercial grower’s take: “Simple but excellent flavor, and it can do wonders for anxiety or depression for some folks. We love Star Dawg. It’s on our top shelf because it doesn’t yield a lot and it requires a little more feeding attention than most strains — and it has a ten-week blooming period. That’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.


Toke of the Town

One-Handed NFL Star Lifts Spirits — and a Toddler

Watch this towering linebacker scoop a shy little boy into his arms. The video of them has gone viral because they’re both missing their left hand.

One-year-old Joseph Tidd was born without part of his left arm. His parents took him to meet Seattle Seahawks star Shaquem Griffin at a fan gathering in Jacksonville, FL.

Griffin aims to inspire children like Joseph who have a limb difference. The 23-year-old pro-football player had his left hand amputated when he was a child. A rare condition called amniotic band syndrome made his fingers hurt fiercely when pressured or touched.

“I was 4 years old and I tried to cut my own fingers off with a kitchen knife because I was in constant pain,” Griffin wrote in an open letter to NFL general managers. Soon after the incident, his parents and doctors decided that amputation would bring him relief.

Amniotic band syndrome starts before you’re born, although its exact cause isn’t clear. Some experts think an organ in the womb that brings the baby oxygen and nutrients, the placenta, gets damaged somehow. Its inner layer ruptures, and thin strings of its tissue called “bands” form.

The bands can pass over or wrap around a baby’s body parts, limiting blood flow and affecting growth. When a limb gets entangled, like Griffin’s did, it can cause a deformity or the loss of the limb in utero. A band across the face has been linked to cleft lip or palate.

“Although amniotic band syndrome is very rare, it can really impact to a child’s life,” says WebMD Senior Medical Director Hansa Bhargava, MD.

Imaging tests spotted the band around Griffin’s hand while his mother, Tangie, was pregnant with him and his twin brother Shaquill. Tangie Griffin says doctors told her that a procedure to move the band would be risky.

“It could be taken off with a needle, but even the slightest move could have punctured [either of the twins] and it was possible one wouldn’t survive. I was not going to take that chance,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

Fetal surgery can be a limb-saving treatment for some babies with amniotic band syndrome while they’re in the womb. But most treatments aim to improve a child’s quality of life after they’re born. These include plastic and reconstructive surgery, physical and occupational therapy, and prosthetics. 

Shaquem Griffin’s amputation helped him thrive. He grew up to become the first one-handed player drafted by the NFL in the league’s modern era. He and Shaquill Griffin, who has both hands, play alongside each other on the Seahawks.

“Shaquem Griffin is an inspiration and a model of how the human spirit can conquer anything, given the chance,” Bhargava says.

WebMD Article

Sources

SOURCES:

Hansa Bhargava, MD, senior medical editor, WebMD.

The Washington Post: “Shaquem Griffin, the Seahawks’ one-handed rookie, will start in the opener.”

They Players’ Tribune: “A Letter to NFL GMs.”

National Organization for Rare Disorders: “Amniotic Band Syndrome.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Amniotic Band Syndrome.”

Los Angeles Times: “NFL dream within reach for Central Florida star Shaquem Griffin, who lost hand as a child.”

CNN: “Shaquem Griffin, one-handed NFL player, to start in season opener.”

YouTube: “1-Handed NFL Player Has Adorable Meet With Boy With 1 Hand | TODAY.”

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Final Season of Disney’s ‘Star vs. The Forces of Evil’ Premieres March 10

The fourth and final season of Daron Nefcy’s Emmy Award-nominated animated series Star vs. The Forces of Evil will debut with two back-to-back episodes on Sunday, March 10 (8-9 a.m. EST/PST) on Disney Channel and Disney XD, with same-day availability on DisneyNOW. New episodes will roll out every Sunday throughout the spring on Disney Channel.

“We put our heart and soul into this final season, and can’t wait to celebrate the exciting conclusion of the series with our fans who have remained so loyal throughout this journey,” said creator and exec producer Nefcy.

In this ultimate series of adventures, teen princess from another dimension Star Butterfly and her best friend Marco Diaz will face unusual surprises brought about by Mewni’s new ruler, Queen Eclipsa. Some of those surprises revolve around new characters voiced by celebrity guest stars, including Jaime Camil (Jane the Virgin), Tony Hale (Arrested Development), Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones), Daniel “Desus Nice” Baker and Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez (Desus & Mero) and Danielle Fishel (Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World).

A Disney Television Animation production, Star vs. The Forces of Evil stars Eden Sher (ABC’s The Middle) as Star Butterfly, Adam McArthur (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as Marco Diaz, Alan Tudyk (Frozen) as King Butterfly, Esmé Bianco (Game of Thrones) as Eclipsa, Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Mrs. Diaz, Rider Strong (ABC’s Boy Meets World) as Tom and Jenny Slate (Disney Junior’s Muppet Babies) as Pony Head.

Animation Magazine

Turkish Toon Star Pepee Goes Global with Amazon Prime

Pepee, “the first Turkish National Cartoon Character,” is making its English-language debut and rolling out to viewers around the world thanks to a new agreement between series producer Dü?yeri and Amazon Prime. Pepee receives 30 million monthly views on YouTube and boasts 1.6 million followers online.

The CG series centers on five-year-old Pepee, who lives with his loving family and friends in a green pastoral world. In the course of his everyday adventures, Pepee learns shapes, colors, numbers and more. With his cute little sister Bebee, cousin Shila, grandparents, giraffe and monkey friends, he discovers his emotions and learns how to deal with them.

“We have taken the first major step towards globalization and opening our doors to the world market. Being a 100 percent local brand, we are proud to represent our country in the international arena and to promote it in the best possible way,” commented Dü?yeri Founder and Dü? ??leri Chairman Ay?e ?ule Bilgiç.

“Within the scope of the cooperation we have established with Amazon Prime, Pepee will be broadcasted in English for the benefit of all the children around the world. Thanks to this cooperation, the children will have the chance to watch Pepee in English for the first time on a platform which broadcasts to the entire world, including applications on smartphones and tablets.”

Established in 2008, Dü?yeri seeks to create a more meaningful entertainment environment for children around the world and offer value-adding products and services. Pepee is the first brand the company has built up, and its wide appeal in Turkey has lead to 98 percent brand awareness in the country.

Season 1 of Pepee is available to to stream on Amazon Prime Video now.

Pepee

Pepee

Pepee

Pepee

Animation Magazine

Brazilian Pop Star Anitta Takes to the World Animation Stage with Globo

Award-winning Brazilian pop music artist and actress Anitta (one of the hosts of Mexico’s The Voice) is trying on a new look in her animated preschool series Anittinha’s Club. The Children’s Unit of Globo Group (formed by Brazil’s Gloob and Gloobinho channels) will launch the show for the global market this fall.

Anittinha’s Club was conceived by the artist herself, who has also signed off on the production. The animation, as well as the scripts, were created by Birdo Studio — one of the top animation shops in Brazil. The first season will feature 10 five-minutes episodes divided into two parts: the story, which will center on topics such as healthy eating, the environment, sleep time, the community and more; and a musical number, always with an original song performed by Anitta. New episodes are already confirmed for 2019.

Gloob will handle international distribution of the series, selling at upcoming international markets beginning with MIP Cancun in November.

Animation Magazine

The Force Is Alive (and Animated) in ‘Star Wars Resistance’

***This story originally appeared in the November ‘18 issue of Animation Magazine (#284)***

This year, Christmas comes early for Star Wars fans as the fantastic-looking new animated series Star Wars Resistance debuts this Sunday on Disney Channel and DisneyNOW (with subsequent airings on Disney XD). The much-anticipated show is the brainchild of franchise master Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels), who wanted to approach the material with a lighter touch than some of the previous animated ventures.

“The idea for Star Wars: Resistance came out of my interest in World War II aircraft and fighter pilots,” Filoni noted in a statement earlier on. “My grandfather was a pilot and my uncle flew and restored planes, so that’s been a big influence on me. There’s a long history of high-speed racing in Star Wars, and I think we’ve captured that sense of excitement in an anime-inspired style, which is something the entire team has been wanting to do for a long time.”

Star Wars Resistance

Star Wars Resistance

To help realize his vision, Filoni put together a dream team of Star Wars animation veterans. On board for the new venture are exec producers Athena Portillo (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels), Justin Ridge (The Clone Wars, Rebels) and Brandon Auman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and art director Amy Beth Christenson (The Clone Wars, Rebels).

The new series centers on the adventures of an eager young pilot named Kazudo Xiono (voiced by Christopher Sean) who is picked by Last Jedi favorite Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to be a secret spy for the Resistance. The eclectic voice cast includes Suzie McGrath (EastEnders) as Tam Ryvora, Scott Lawrence (Legion) as Jarek Yeager, Myrna Velasco (Elena of Avalor) as Torra Doza, Josh Brener (Silicon Valley) as Neeku Vozo, Donald Faison (Scrubs) as Hype Fazon, Jim Rash (Community) and Bobby Moynihan (DuckTales) as Flix and Orka, Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) as Captain Phasma, and Rachel Butera (The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) as General Leia Organa.

As exec producer Athena Portillo mentions in a recent phone interview, Filoni has always wanted to put the boundaries of what they could do with this property, both in terms of content and visuals. “When I started working on the show two years ago, one of the hardest things was keeping my mouth shut, because I wanted to tell everyone about it,” she admits. “It is completely different from the previous show because of the way it looks. It’s a 3D show with a 2D cel-shaded look.”

Star Wars Resistance

Star Wars Resistance

Achieving a 2D Look in CG

The smooth 2D look of the show was achieved thanks to the efforts of Lucasfilm’s partners: Taipei-based CGCG and Japan’s cutting-edge studio Polygon Pictures, which is best known for its amazing work on Knights of Sidonia and the recent animated Godzilla movies, as well as The Clone Wars. “We knew that was something they could do for us,” says Portillo. “That is their forte and they can push the boundaries of the animation in terms of building the assets and the right shaders. I still get butterflies when I see the show trailer, because we all think it looks beautiful.”

Portillo points out that the digital assets for the show looked so good that they would test them against the original designs. “We liked putting the designs and the assets next to each other and test people to see if they could tell which was which, and in most cases, they couldn’t,” she notes. “Our art director, Amy Beth Christenson, was one of the designers on Rebels, and she led the anime-influenced line-drawing concept designs. Thanks to the work of our animation supervisor, Keith Kellogg , the characters have more fluid body rigs, which allow for more squash and stretch and the inclusion of different mouth shapes that allow more expressive comedic animation.”

She also praises the amazing work of the show’s lighting supervisor, Joel Aron (Rebels, The Clone Wars). “He is able to make the shots look very cinematic and expensive. He’ll add smoke trails, laser blasts, water bubbles, anything we wanted to the scenes, and still deliver within the parameters of the time and budget.”

To create the show’s finely-tuned 2D look, the animators use Toon Boom Storyboard Pro for the animatics and rely on Maya and Nuke for animation, the same tools that were used on Rebels. They also utilize ZVIZ, Lucasfilm’s proprietary tool created for previs and visualization of CG images.

Portillo says one of the biggest challenges of the new project was coming up with stories that would make everyone happy. “We often ask ourselves, ‘OK, what will the fan base like, and what would the show’s new audience like?’ and ‘Can they walk right into the show and get sucked in?’ Of course, we have both audiences in mind. The official age range is six to 12, but we’re also creating this for viewers who are six to 70, which includes me as well,” says Portillo, who recalls seeing the original Star Wars trilogy in theaters. “With this show, we have the opportunity to explore the First Order, the genesis of the Resistance, and find out more about Poe and his relationship with General Leia. There was such a huge break between the movies, and now we get to see how they all get there.”

Star Wars Resistance

Star Wars Resistance

Unexplored History

Exec producer Justin Ridge, who also worked with Filoni on Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Clone Wars and Rebels, says the show creator was keen on exploring the time period before The Force Awakens. “At the same time, we always try to push the boundaries of what we can do. This was a great opportunity to work in a style that we hadn’t done before. We are fans of anime, and we also wanted this new tone. The new era has a light-hearted feel throughout, and we felt a more 2D, hand-crafted feel would serve it much better than CG.”

Ridge says the show was heavily influenced by Hayao Miyazaki movies, as well as anime favorites such as Robotech and Lupin the Third. “We had some time too for detailed R&D on the show, and to explore how to achieve the look we were going for, how do we keep the contour lines, how to get that hand-drawn look for the backgrounds.”

Another key goal of the show was to strive for character diversity. “It was important for us to have a cast of characters that were very diverse and came from different walks of life,” says Ridge. “Our main character Kaz is a newbie, but he’s very passionate. He comes from a wealthy background — his father is a Senator — in contrast with Rey and Luke who come from humble beginnings. Kaz loves to live and to prove himself so he can get out from under his father’s thumb. I think kids can relate to that.”

Ridge also admits that the richness of the Star Wars universe can be both a blessing and a curse. “There is a lot of back story that you can explore, but what you’re doing has to fit with what has been done in the cannon. We are dealing with the First Order, and we’re not too focused on the main characters, but there is some overlap. We do have Poe, Captain Phasma and General Leia as we did feel that it was really important for continuity to have these characters be featured in the show.”

Overall, Ridge says he is quite proud of this colorful world that he and the rest of the team have created. “It’s really stunning,” he notes. “We’ve created a show that looks like nothing I’ve seen before. We’ve created this family of characters that we love, and we hope they’ll resonate with audiences and fans as well.”

Star Wars Resistance

Star Wars Resistance

Listening to His Inner Fan

Exec producer Brandon Auman recalls getting a call in early 2016 about working on the new show. “I am a huge Star Wars nerd and know way too much about the franchise, so when Lucasfilm contacted me, I was very excited,” he notes. “I know Filoni had this idea for the show simmering for years. They had me come in with a soft pitch, but they had already developed the concept art. Then, we had this great brainstorming session at Skywalker Ranch, and it just all took off.”

Auman says he immediately fell in love with the characters. “I really think they are all good people,” he explains. “Kaz is young and earnest and is a hero in the making, while Neeku has a huge heart and is kind. The characters are all fun and funny, and you really care about them on their journey,” he says. “The series is written with emotion and heart, but it also has lots of action, adventure and comedy in the mix, too. It’s treated no differently than the live-action movies. They are all part of the Star Wars galaxy, and they have to live there, and there’s a lot of weight there.”

He says one of Filoni’s big goals was to capture the spark of everyone’s first Star Wars experience. “Early on, Dave told us, ‘Remember the first time you saw Star Wars when you were a kid!’ He wanted us to bring back that same sense of fun and innocence. He didn’t want to go dark, and wanted the show to be closer in tone to the original trilogy.”

Auman says there was a lot of talk about Robotech as well. “We watched the beginning of Robotech in the room to get everyone on the same page. We were all nerding out on that and all the things we loved in the ’80s. We wanted to bring in that sense of fun that is also seen in The Last Jedi. Solo was also an indirect influence.”

Having worked on several Marvel properties and received an Emmy nomination for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Auman is no stranger to passionate fan expectations. “I am a fan myself, so I listen to my inner fan,” he says. “But sometimes you need to dismiss those voices and try things that you wouldn’t normally go for. It’s good to get out of your safety zone and grow. Working with Dave, Justin and Athena and everyone else on the show has let us explore new territories. It’s been a truly incredible experience.”

Star Wars Resistance premieres on Disney Channel, DisneyNOW and Disney Channel VOD with a special one-hour episode on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 10 p.m. The show will then air regularly on Disney XD.

Animation Magazine

YouTube Star Denis Kopotun Gets Animated with Headspinner

Headspinner Productions and showrunner/producer Diana Moore have struck a development deal to make an animated kids’ series with popular YouTuber Denis Kopotun (formerly known as “Denis Daily”). Kopotun’s channel, DENIS, boasts more than 6 million subscribers and 2 billion views for its kid-friendly content which has won over the 6-11 audience across the U.S., Canada and around the world.

Michelle Melanson (The Next Step, Stella and Sam, Fangbone!) of Headspinner Productions and Moore (Ollie the Boy Who Became What He Ate, Stella and Sam) are developing the series with Koputun under the title DENIS and Me. The 6-9 targeted, 2D-animated series will follow Denis (as his eight-year-old self) and his infamous business cat sidekick Sir Meows A Lot. Pitching is underway to secure a broadcast platform and distribution.

“Millions of kids are already huge fans of Denis,” said Michelle Melanson, President of Headspinner Productions. “Denis is a great role model for young kids and has created wonderful characters, including his sidekick cat Sir Meows A Lot.”

“The DENIS YouTube channel became a staple in my household a few years ago, and I’ve been a massive fan ever since,” said Moore. “I think Denis makes incredible content for kids and I’m thrilled to be working with him and Headspinner on this project.”

Kopotun added, “I feel excited about taking my characters to the next stage. I’ve always loved animation and am looking forward to seeing our series find a home and be produced. Seeing myself in cartoon form alongside my pal Sir Meows A Lot would be a dream come true.”

Animation Magazine

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