Siggraph 2006
July 28th, 2006


Siggraph is beginning this weekend in Boston. Since 1972 it's been the pentultimate gathering of Digital animation folks to share info, network and go crazy over new innovations. It is a Holy Day of Obligation for all CG geeks, the Eleusinian Mysteries of the Nerb set. I've been to a few and they are a lot of fun. Everyone trying to score admission to the coolest parties and a seat at the Electronic Theater. If you're near Beantown, be sure and check it out. Although, don't wear your NY Yankees shirt.

courtesy of UPApix.com

I heard from Karl Cohen in San Fransisco of the death recently of Libby Hilberman, wife and life partner of Dave Hilberman. She was in her late 80s, I believe. I first met them in 1991 when I helped organize a 50th anniv picnic of the Walt Disney strikers. In 2003 I talked to them extensively for my book. Dave was a Disney artist and UPA founder who had the distinction of being one of the few artists personally fingered by Walt Disney in testimony to the anti-Commie HUAC committee ( Oct 25th, 1947). Libby was an artist at UPA, Tempo and Disney as well, she and Dave endured harrassment, blacklisting in Hollywood as well as in New York until they settled in Palo Alto to teach. Despite all they always kept their spirits up and their dignity. They never compromised their principles when it would have been much more lucrative to cave in. In their old age this gave them a kind of inner peace that I found admirable. The satisfaction that they did the right thing, and because of it they made an impact on all of us. Because of people like Libby and Dave, animation artists in Cal have the highest standard of living and best conditions of any animators in the world. And I for one, thank them.


July 28, 2006
July 28th, 2006

Birthdays:Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Richard Rogers, Marcel Duchamp, Rudy Vallee, Joe E. Brown, Jim Davis the creator of Garfield, Frank Yankovic the Polka King, Elizabeth Berkley the star of the film Showgirls, Earl Francis Tupper the inventor of Tupperware

1655- Poet, playwright and duelist Cyrano de Bergerac died in Paris. The famous
play about him and his big nose was written by Edmond Rostand in 1895.

1788-In England Master portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds visited the other master
British portrait painter Sir Thomas Gainsborough, who was dying or cancer. They
had been enemies for years, but now they made up. As Reynolds was leaving, Gainsborough said " Goodbye until we meet in the Hereafter, Van Dyck in our company."

1858- The French photographer Nadar went up in a balloon and took the first aerial
photograph.

1948- In honor of the death of D.W. Griffith, all Hollywood studios observed three
minutes of silence.

1948- The Premiere of that utterly memorable film " ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET
FRANKENSTEIN." For you hardcore film trivia fans this film is the only other
time than the original Tod Browning movie that Bela Lugosi played Count Dracula
on film. After this Lou Costello, who was an ardent admirer of Senator Joseph MacCarthy,
insisted all his staff sign loyalty oaths. He fired the two writers of this movie
Robert Lees and Frederic Rinaldo, over their refusal to comply. Unfortunately for
Abbott and Costello they were their best comedy writers. They never had a successful movie
again.

1971- Photographer Diane Arbus probed increasingly darker subject matter, circus
freaks, severe birth defects. This day she committed suicide by swallowing a bottle
of sleeping pills, then slitting her wrists.

1999- Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco declared today Marylin Chambers Day, in
honor of the star of porn films like Behind the Green Door.

2061- The next predicted appearance of Halley's Comet.


Pencils Return to Disney
July 27th, 2006

Variety (July 27) and IMDB are reporting officially what insiders have been talking about for months: namely that John Lassiter has given the greenlight to John Musker and Ron Clements to create a hand-drawn animated feature at the Walt Disney Studios. They will develop the Frog Princess, and Alan Menken, the composer of the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, will provide the music. Gloria en Excelsis Deo! The trades are already pooh-poohing the effort, restating the latest corporate-think that traditional films will fail to draw audiences ( pun, I know...). But I think by the time the film will be done, in serveral years time, it would have been long enough from the days of the big 1990s musicals that this will seem novel. And like Leonard Maltin has said " The problem is nothing that another Lion King couldn't fix."
Not that I am against all CG animation, I'm directing a CGI film right now. It just would be good to see some balance. Let artists instead of the market have the choice of whether to tell a story 2D or 3D.
I salute Walt Disney management for their courage and wish Ron & John all the luck!


July 27, 2006
July 27th, 2006

Birthdays: Confucius, Enrique Granados, Hillaire Belloc, Norman Lear, Maureen McGovern,, Keenan Wynn, Leo Durocher, Peggy Fleming, Bobby Gentry, Jerry Van Dyke, Vincent Canby, Betty Thomas, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Ilya Salkind the producer of the Superman movies in the 70s. , David Swift –former Disney animation assistant became the director of the Haley Mills Disney films like The Parent Trap

1880-BATTLE OF MAIWAND: The Afghan leader Ayub Khan's tribesmen destroy a British invasion force. Dr. Watson told Sherlock Holmes he was there . One of the heroes of the battle was a little terrier named Bobbie who was a regimental mascot and was wounded several times. He was brought to London and received a medal from Queen Victoria, but was later run over by a London taxi . I guess Afghanistan was safer.

1940- HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUGS BUNNY. Warners short-"A Wild Hare”-There were several earlier prototypes of the famous rabbit, white with a different voice, but this is the short that launched his career. Bugs says “Whats Up Doc?” for the first time, co-opting a line uttered by Clark Gable while chewing a carrot in the Frank Capra film “It Happened One Night”. Interestingly enough Mel Blanc, the creator of his voice was terribly allergic to carrots. He found he couldn’t recreate the crisp sound of chewing with any other vegetable. So he kept a bucket next to his microphone to quickly spit out the carrots after chewing.


July 26th Weds
July 26th, 2006

Well, I'm back from vacation, sand on the brain and surf 1n the ear. I heard from Tina Price and my friends at Creative Talent Network that I'm scheduled to do the first booksigning for DRAWING THE LINE on lucky friday the 13th of October at the Gordon Biersch on San Fernando Road in Burbank. These are fun events that CTN does for all us little animation folk. A lot of industry folks show up. More events and signings to follow, in LA as well as in San Francisco and New York City.

Birthdays: Salvador Allende, Serge Koussevitsky, George Bernard Shaw, Gracie Allen,
Carl Jung, Stanley Kubrick, Blake Edwards, George Grosz, Pearl Buck, Jason Robards Jr, Wannabe Disney screenwriter Aldous Huxley, One of my favorite writers- Jean Shepard whos stories were the basis for the film A Christmas Story, Vivian Vance, Emil Jannings, Sandra Bullock is 41, Kevin Spacey is 46, Kate Beckinsdale, Mick Jagger is 62,

1656 – Rembrandt van Rijn declared bankruptcy.

1903 –FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL AUTO TRIP- Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson, mechanic Sewell J. Crocker and Bud the Wonderdog in their Winton Touring Car rode into New York City, having left San Francisco sixty-three days before. They are the first to cross the United States by automobile. They did it to win a $50 bet that you could cross the country by auto in 90 days. Jackson won the bet but spent $8,000 of his own money to do it. He was hailed as the Great Automobilist and his car was put on display bedecked with flags.

1951- Charlie Chaplin driven into exile by red-baiters. He was on a holiday to Britain when he learned his visa had been revoked by the U.S. government. He didn't return until 1972. Despite his immense achivements in Hollywood History, when the Hollywood Walk of Fame was dedicated later that year, Chaplin’s name was deliberately excluded.

1959- KPFK , Los Angeles lefty alternative radio of the Pacifica Network, starts up.

1984- Edward Gein died peacefully in a prison for the criminally insane.
Gein was arrested in 1957 and sentenced to life for mass murder. Police found his farm in Wisconsin decorated with human body parts and heads in the freezer and in the stove, and the dried cadaver of his mother. His story inspired "Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Silence of the Lambs".

1991 – Childrens comic Paul Reubens aka Pee Wee Herman was arrested in Florida for masterbating in an adult movie theater. The film was Naughty Nurse Nancy. In 2003 he was busted a second time for collecting kiddy porn. Paul Reubens was a graduate of the Disney program character animation department of the Cal Institute of the Arts, the same program that graduated Tim Burton and John Lassiter

1995- After a year of investigation the General Accounting Office noted that all documents pertaining to the Rosswell UFO Incident of 1947 had disappeared or been destroyed. Hmmm.


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