Will Tom and Jerry be the new Chipmunks?

When I was a kid, Tom and Jerry was one of my favorite cartoons. I don’t know why. I mean, I’d love to tell you that it was because it was quality entertainment, but I suspect it was because I enjoyed watching the little guy get to win for a change. The fact that the little guy often won with the help of a large mallet was even better, of course. (Yes, my other favorite cartoon was the perpetual battle between Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner.)

Still, despite my affinity for the cat-and-mouse duo, I find this recent movie news a little… perplexing:

Warner Bros. is turning to Tom and Jerry to create its own “Alvin and the Chipmunks”-like family franchise.

Plans are to bring the constantly warring cat and mouse to life as CG characters that run around in live-action settings.

Studio-based Dan Lin, currently producing the upcoming “Sherlock Holmes” and exec producer on “Terminator: Salvation,” will adapt the classic Hanna-Barbera property as an origin story that reveals how Tom and Jerry first meet and form their rivalry before getting lost in Chicago and reluctantly working together during an arduous journey home.

First of all, getting lost in Chicago and working together to get home…? And second… didn’t the Chipmunks movie kind of bomb? But hey, what do I know….

Hey! You! Guuuuuuys!

It’s baaaa-aaaaack!

We already know that there’s little more exciting to a parent than when a treasured show from our youth has come back to enthrall the kids of today. If it gets a face-lift in the process—causing our children to declare it worthy, rather than asking if this is really what we used to watch “in the olden days”—so much the better.

And so I’m more than a little excited that a brand new version of The Electric Company is about to premiere on PBS KIDS GO!

Check it out:

Sure, it’s different than the original. But the same funky vibe I remember is definitely there (albeit modernized), and the goal remains the same: Promotion of literacy in a way that gets kids engaged. What’s not to like about that?

The Electric Company will officially run on PBS KIDS GO! on Fridays, beginning on January 23rd, 2009, but you can catch the special 2-hour sneak peek marathon a week from today on Monday, January 19th, 2009. I wanted to give you a heads up so that you can set the recording device of your choosing, or so that you can watch it with your kids. (And maybe walk around the house saying things like, “C! At! CAT! S! At! SAT!”)

Pinocchio’s getting a makeover

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this one for a few days—it seems that Pinocchio is getting a modern makeover:

A new version of “Pinocchio” is on its way to the big screen, this one to be co-directed by acclaimed children’s book illustrator Gris Grimly and executive produced by Guillermo del Toro.

The adaptation, being made by the Jim Henson Co., will be done as a stop-motion animated feature. Henson co-CEOs Brian Henson and Lisa Henson and senior vp feature films Jason Lust are producing.

The aim is to make a dark, twisted retelling of the famous Carlo Collodi fairy tale about the wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy. In the retelling, when Pinocchio comes to life, he turns out not to be that nice of a boy, creating mischief and playing mean tricks. He eventually learns a few lessons. The story and the look of the feature will be based on the 2002 children’s book illustrated by Grimly, who is repped by Gotham Group.

And I know I’m dating myself, here, but when I saw the headline (‘Pinocchio’ to feature Gris Grimly as director) I immediately thought it said it would be directed by Ed Grimley. But, ah, no. It’s Gris Grimly. Still very cool, but different.

(Though how cool would it be if it was directed by Ed Grimley…? Okay, shutting up, now.)

Highlights remains timeless

I Was a Highlights Kid! to read stories from other grown-ups who loved the magazine, growing up. Who says your kids should get to have all the fun? (I also quite enjoyed the Goofus or Gallant Quiz. That really took me back.)

Ah, memories. The Pleistocene Era was a good time, you know.

Who you gonna call?

I think I saw the original Ghostbusters in the theater four or five times. Hey, it was the 80s, the music was catchy, the plot both funny and frightening, and I’d probably inhaled so much Aquanet hair spray that I kept forgetting how it ended. Who knows. Certainly it was one of my favorite for a long time.

The second movie wasn’t as good; sequels rarely are, of course. But when I think of the 80s, I always think of Ghostbusters.

[Don't cross the streams!]

I’ll confess to being perhaps ridiculously excited by the notion of a third movie in the series, now, as Harold Ramis recently confirmed:

“yes, columbia is developing a script for GB3 with my year one writing partners, gene stupnitsky and lee eisenberg. judd apatow is co-producing year one and has made several other films for sony, so of course the studio is hoping to tap into some of the same acting talent. aykroyd, ivan reitman and i are consulting at this point, and according to dan, bill murray is willing to be involved on some level. he did record his dialogue for the new ghostbusters video game, as did danny and i, and ernie hudson. the concept is that the old ghostbusters would appear in the film in some mentor capacity. not much else to say at this point. everyone is confident a decent script can be written and i guess we’ll take it from there.

Ghostbusters! Back again! Ready for the next generation to have nightmares about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man! Aaaaaawesome! Right?

Well… maybe. The Underwire’s Jenna Wortham isn’t so sure:

Would a geek-friendly revamp with a Judd Apatow ensemble cast improve upon — or destroy — fans’ memories of that fabulous ’80s aesthetic? (Akroyd told E Online that the idea of Apatow and actor Seth Rogen working on the Ghostbusters sequel would be “an absolute dream.”)

The nearly guaranteed heavy-handed use of CGI also could slime the sequel. Would it be worth it to risk fouling the franchise with a film that might fall a few protons short of audience expectations, like 2001′s Planet of the Apes or Peter Jackson’s King Kong?

Hmph. I choose to believe that this could be great; my Magic 8 Ball said it would be.