Honoring movies… with produce

[Hey, it's hard to follow up the Martin Luther King, Jr. post, okay? It's not like I could possibly come up with anything nearly as important, so I'm afraid that produce-themed awards are all I have for you right now.]

Regular readers know that whenever I’m considering seeing a movie, my first move is always to go consult Rotten Tomatoes. Not only do they aggregate available reviews in the most entertaining way possible (why comb through dozens of reviews when you can read the funniest lines all on one page?), they provide the Tomatometer reading for every movie, giving you a quick visual on how positive or negative feedback has been, overall. (The Tomatometer is based on a 100% scale, too, which I find much more useful than a 5-star system. But I’m sort of a geek that way.)

Anyway, it’s time once again for the Golden Tomato awards; the 9th Annual Golden Tomato Awards, to be precise. With the Golden Globes having been sort of a letdown and the Academy Awards looking to be not much better (the WGA strike is really cutting into my entertainment, sheesh), I can take some small comfort in the Golden Tomatoes, perhaps. Although I always love the Golden Tomatoes because they’re based upon the best-reviewed films rather than on what people say we “should” like. The Golden Tomato winners are, quite simply, films that were universally well-received.

Ratatouille took first place for Animation, which comes as a surprise to absolutely no one.

If you need some giggles, also check out the recipients of the Moldy Tomato honor, as well. No animation appears in that category, though.

Although the Golden and Moldy Tomatoes are my favorite, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the 28th Annual Razzies, as well. Apparently awful films deserve raspberries in addition to moldy tomatoes. I don’t know why. But I do know that—as a mom who has never understood the Bratz craze—I felt a smug little self-satisfied bit of glee to see that the Bratz movie garnered five separate nominations. Heh.

If I ever start some movie awards, I’m thinking of naming them after avocados. Just because.

Best of the Year Awards at KidScreen

If you’re unfamiliar with KidScreen Magazine, they’re the folks with their finger on the pulse of the kids’ entertainment industry. No, they don’t deal in things like stage moms and little girls in fake eyelashes (ewww), but they do cover all manner of what kids are into and where those kids’ parents will spend their dollars to support those interests. They’re the folks in the know, is my point.

Well, it’s time for the KidScreen Best of the Year Awards:

We polled industry players to get a read on who made waves in 2007 that would likely resonate for years to come, and the result of that fieldwork is the following shortlist of candidates competing in six categories – Producer, Distributor, Broadcaster, Licensor, Licensee and Licensing Agent…of the Year.

Guess who’s up for Licensee of the Year? Go on, guess! That’s right. Ty’s Toy Box is in the running for this auspicious recognition. KidScreen didn’t hold back with the admiration, either, to which we said, “Don’t. Stop. No, really—don’t stop!” In describing Ty’s, KidScreen said:

Since launching three years ago with a dedicated boutique housing all products Wiggles-related, the e-tailer has expanded at a rapid clip and now features products based on roughly 80 licenses. But what’s put Ty’s Toy Box in the running this year is the unique approach it has taken to helping properties kick-start their consumer products sales in a retail climate that’s, er, less-than-hospitable to brand-new IP. Acting as both retailer and licensee, Ty’s broke ground with The Doodlebops, producing quick-turnaround soft goods such as t-shirts for the preschool band’s online storefront in 2006. From there, licensor Cookie Jar Entertainment was able to take sales results of the Ty-produced goods to existing and potential partners, and build out a larger mass retail program.

To keep momentum going this year, Ty’s opened up TTB Marketplace to service licensors. The key to TTBM is its relationship with drop-ship software service CommerceHub, which enables Ty’s to expand the retail reach of its licensor partners and improve its own product development capabilities. Through the system, suppliers ship directly to online customers, cutting down on inventory investment for Ty’s. The e-tailer then takes the savings and plows them into developing product and retail programs for properties with fanbases clamoring for product that isn’t yet available.

Ty’s is one of only two retailers nominated in the Licensee category, and is in excellent company amongst the other nominees—Character Options, Jakks Pacific, Mattel, and Steve & Barry’s.

Who will win the title? Well, that’s up the public. The voting is currently open and winners will be announced in January. The prize is a Doodlebops guitar! Oh, I kid. The prize is the satisfaction of a job well done. And also bragging rights.

But this is certainly one of those situations where (as corny as it may sound), it truly is an honor just to be nominated. Who would thunk a little company in Kentucky would one day be rubbing elbows with an industry giant like Mattel, vying for a “Best of” award? It’s pretty exciting. Thanks, KidScreen!

Lights, camera, Habbowood!

Have you been to the Habbo Hotel lately? No? Me neither, actually. My kids are still in the stage of life where they think that Webkinz are the be-all and end-all of online entertainment. (Yes. The dawn of the technology boom as we know it was predicated on Cash Cow, I am sure of it.)

But apparently Habbo is the place to be for teens who want a fun virtual environment. It’s part instant messenger, part arcade… I could be wrong, but from my quick exploration of it, it sort of seems like Second Life Lite.

Here’s the interesting thing, though—Habbo is hosting an animation contest with real prizes:

Habbo announced today the kickoff of the first worldwide Habbowood Digital Movie Awards 2007. Using the Habbowood MovieMaker tool, aspiring filmmakers are invited to take the director’s chair and create, star in and share their own animated movies in hopes of winning a Habbowood Award. For the first time ever, after claiming the top prize in Habbo.com, the winning film will be entered into a global contest against the winners from 18 other Habbo communities around the world to compete for a grand prize trip for two to Hollywood.

Available now on Habbo (www.habbo.com) for free, the MovieMaker tool is a comprehensive editing device that allows users to select from a wide range of virtual sets, props, special effects and mood music; cast Habbo “actors” and script dialogue to build scenes. Up to ten different scenes can then be combined using the MovieMaker tool to create an animated film up to five minutes long.

For the next ten days, the Habbo community, which numbers more than 15 million registered users in the U.S., will select the ten top films through a combination of page views and scaled ratings. Each day, the Habbo staff will choose a winner from this top 10 to comprise the final nominees which the Habbo community will vote on to select the Habbowood Award winner. The winner will be announced and special awards, such as Best Director, Best Writer, Best Actor and Best Actress, will be presented live in the Theaterdome during the virtual Habbowood Digital Movie Awards gala, on Sept. 21, 2007, starting at 4:00 pm (PDT)/7:00 pm (EDT).

That’s… well, that’s pretty cool, actually. And I think it says something about how important animation is to our kids (even into their teens) that this Habbowood thing has become such a big deal. Don’t believe me?

Habbo.com opened its doors to Habbowood three years ago. Last year, the hugely popular US movie contest garnered more than 140,000 animated short films. On a global level, Habbowood generated more than 700,000 movies last year.

That’s a whole lotta animatin’ going on, right there.

Go on… if you don’t already have big plans for this weekend (you know you don’t), take a trip to Habbowood. There’s bound to be a film or two worth watching, and maybe you’ll want to create your own. Er, maybe your kids will want to create their own, I mean. Right.

Cartoon Network kickin’ butt and taking Emmys

I always thought that the Emmys weren’t announced until all the famous people put on their slinky dresses and got made fun of by Joan Rivers, but it turns out that some awards are announced prior to the televised event. Imagine! I mean, it’s almost like how many thousands of dollars of jewelry people can borrow is not actually the point. I was surprised, too.

Anyway, I am a bit behind, but last week the winners of the individual achievement in animation Emmys were announced, and Cartoon Network took plenty of the honors.

(Oh, by the way, the article also enlightened me as to the timing: “Because the awards are juried categories, there are no nominations; the categories might have one, more than one or no winners each year. There were no Emmys awarded in the voice-over performance juried area this year.”)

Check out the list of Cartoon Network honorees:

– Sue Mondt, art director for Cartoon Network’s “Camp Lazlo,” episode “Squirrel Secrets,” from Cartoon Network Studios;

– Dave Dunnet, background key designer for Cartoon Network’s “Good Wilt Hunting” (“Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends”), from Cartoon Network Studios;

– Narina Sokolova, background painter for Cartoon Network’s “My Gym Partner’s A Monkey,” episode “The Big Field Trip,” from Cartoon Network Studios;

– David Colman, character designer for Cartoon Network’s “Class of 3000,” episode “Eddie’s Money,” from Cartoon Network Studios;

– Phil Rynda, character designer for Cartoon Network’s “Billy & Mandy’s Big Boogey Adventure” (“The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy”), from Cartoon Network Studios

Other notables include Sang-Jin Kim, an animator on Avatar: The Last Airbender (okay, that one’s with Nickelodeon, but you can’t fault a gal for being pleased at Avatar getting some recognition), and Cartoon Network animators Sihanouk Mariona and Thomas Smith pulling down awards for projects with ShadowMachine films.

On a related-but-not-really note, I keep forgetting to mention that Ben 10: Secret of the Omnitrix (the recent hour-long animated movie) dominated the ratings for boys ages 6-11 on its premiere night (Friday, August 10th). I wasn’t all that surprised, but the press release I received about it used lots of exclamation points and a large font, so I guess it’s even more exciting than I thought.

Clearly, Cartoon Network is on a roll. Congrats to the Emmy winners, and let’s see what you come up with next!

2007 prime-time Emmy nominations announced

Yesterday marked the announcement of this year’s prime-time Emmy nominees, and so this seems like a good time to confess that I’m a total awards show junkie. Can’t get enough of ‘em. I mean, there are always shows I love which are overlooked by the awards committee(s), but sometimes the right show is recognized and there’s nothing quite like seeing something you really enjoy being recognized for the hard work that goes into it.

(The fact that you can also see a bunch of expensive dresses, outrageous hairdos, and funny commercials doesn’t hurt, either.)

Anyway, Animated News was on the scene immediately with the list of animation nominees.

Outstanding Animated Program (Programming Less Than One Hour)
Avatar: The Last Airbender – “City Of Walls And Secrets” (Nickelodeon Animation Studio)
Robot Chicken – “Lust For Puppets” (ShadowMachine Films)
South Park – “Make Love, Not Warcraft” (Central Productions)
SpongeBob SquarePants – “Bummer Vacation / Wig Struck” (Nickelodeon Animation Studio with United Plankton Pictures, Inc.)
The Simpsons – “The Haw-Hawed Couple” (Gracie Films with 20th Century Fox)

My take: I think Avatar deserves to win, but I don’t know that it will. There’s been a lot of buzz about Robot Chicken, and with the Simpsons movie about to come out—despite the series having been around forever—people are sort of rediscovering it. So I just don’t know.

Outstanding Animated Program (Programming One Hour Or More)
Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends – “Good Wilt Hunting” (Cartoon Network Studios)
Hellboy Animated: Sword Of Storms (Starz Media with Revolution Studios)
Secrets Of The Deep (Impossible Pictures with Discovery Channel)
Camp Lazlo – “Where’s Lazlo?” (Cartoon Network Studios)

My take: If Foster’s doesn’t win this one, my faith in a just deity will be shaken. I know I went into that one already loving Foster’s, but Good Wilt Hunting was even better than I expected it to be. To me, it’s the clear front-runner. But I don’t get to vote. (Which is a travesty in and of itself. Clearly.)

The 2007 Emmy Awards Show will air this year on Sunday, September 16th at 8:00 PM. Mark your calendars and get ready to make fun of famous people. (Oops. Did I say that last part out loud? My bad.)