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           July - 2001

A great headline from Viz, some sad news from Aardman, and a
   triple-bill of returning nostalgia...

Got any gossip?

Tell it to
The Hound!

   Gwyneth Paltrow is a Fat Slag!
   Er, well, she might star as one, perhaps...
   Gawd bless yer, Miss Winslet...
   Kate's Christmas Carol song...
Dare to dream...
Dan Dare gets animated!
   Hare today... Gone tomorrow...
   Aardman film work suspended -
   Wallace & Gromit movie
   to be fast-tracked?
Late-night porkers...
Pinky & Perky return...
Sites For Sore Eyes
Looking at Little Gems
this month...
   Coming to play again...
   A brand new Andy Pandy series...



     Er, possibly. At least, she isn't yet...

     IFG (I Feel Good) Holdings, the new owners of Viz magazine,
     have recently announced a film venture with Film Four to bring
     those delicious strip stars The Fat Slags to the big screen...

     The publicity blurb would like us to believe that the film makers
     passed over the obvious contenders to play our weighty wobbly duo
     (Kathy Burke, Dawn French, etc..) in favour of a pitch to Gwyneth      Paltrow and Miss Minnie Driver. Apparently the plan is to - erm -
     'pad them out' in special over-size costumes.Hmm. A publicity scam?
     - Probably. But it raises a smile...

     Meanwhile, according to the Sunday Times, IFG lawyers are also
     looking closely at upcoming Pathe movie Thunderpants, lest it
     bears too close a resemblance to their infamous Johnny Fartpants
     strip. Pathe's movie is about a lad who uses his 'special talent' to
     become an astronaut. Hmm, again. We'll wait and see on that one...



      The Hound hears that hideously kinky Kate Winslet is releasing
      a single from the soundtrack of the upcoming animated Christmas
      Carol: The Movie. That's the new film from director Jimmy T.
      Murakami (When The Wind Blows), highlighted back in the
      April edition. Anyways, EMI producers were apparently so
      impressed with Kate's angelic tones on the ballad, 'What If' that
      they thought it would make a fine single...

      But hold your horses, our Kate's not swopping careers just yet.
      This release will be strictly for charity, mate, with proceeds going
      to worthy children's causes. Apparently, it's already being tipped
      as a potential Christmas #1...

      Christmas Carol gets its release here late November, and there's
      more on this intriguing animated feature at the official site:



     No, no, not our feisty friend from Pipkins. This one's all
     about the latest production from director Richard Goleszowski
     (Rex The Runt) and the boys and girls at Aardman Animations,
     who've got into a bit of a muddle...

     Apparently, as of July 3rd, production has been halted on their
     eagerly-waited second feature, The Tortoise And The Hare.
     Reports cite 'script problems' which have forced the $40m production
     into a temporary hiatus. Now some say the entire crew has been
     laid off, amidst tears and tantrums. But the official line is that
     there's been a 'scaling down' of the crew, with some 90 staff
     being shed temporarily from an original crew of 172. Work is
     expected to be resumed at full-throttle within six months...

     The Tortoise And The Hare, Aardman's take on the classic
     Aesop fable, features the voice talents of Bob Hoskins, Brenda
     Blethyn and Lee Evans and industry anticipation is running
     high on the back of the mega-success that was Chicken Run.
     Whilst there's no Nick Park on the project, Peter Lord is back
     again, as Producer and the film is the second under the ongoing
     financial deal with DreamWorks SKG...

     Aint-It-Cool-News and other movie websites talk of sets being
     built, filmed, and trashed with animators struggling to film from
     unfinished scripts and various voice artistes being brought in to
     re-record stuff. Again, however, the official line makes no mention
     of this, and quite properly points out that Chicken Run had a
     two and a half year production schedule whereas Tortoise has
     been shoehorned into just twelve months. And anyway, there's
     a flip-side to this supposed tarnished coin, and that's to mention
     that it's actually been a very brave thing to do. In this world of
     Summer Movie Deadlines and Mega-Tight Turnarounds it's
     almost a relief to see some level-headedness coming to play.
     The script wasn't there so they put it on hold, instead of ploughing
     on with a flawed production. DreamWorks were burnt in this way
     on The Road To Eldorado, and we mustn't forget that the boggling
     brilliant Shrek endured two similar 'hiccups' prior to completion -
     and look how well that's turned out!...

     Now some talk has turned to Nick Park and his oft-proposed
     Wallace & Gromit feature. This was supposed to be Aardman's
     next feature after Tortoise. There's a suggestion that this may
     now be 'fast-tracked' to fill the void. Let's hope the same level-
     headedness is deployed here. If Nick's feature isn't fully
     developed, please, don't jump headlong into it. Wallace & Gromit
     are Aardman's Dream Team, their Cash Cow, their Golden Goose.
     They need to be handled with Kid Gloves, lest a decade's
     worth of brilliance is undermined. I think maybe this rumour is
     a non-starter anyway...

     Oh well. Whichever way this develops, I'll post the details here...
     Meanwhile, keep checking the official site for updates:


     That's what Colin Frewin's doing...

      Who's Colin Frewin? - Well, he's the guy who spent £500,000
      to aquire the rights to Frank Hampson's Eagle Comic classic,
      and now he and his new company The Dan Dare Corporation
      are in the process of producing a £14m animated Dan Dare
      series of 26 episodes which he's selling around the world,
      even as you read this...

      Apparently, he's got the likes of Robbie Coltrane on board
      to add - er - weight to the voice talent, but the bigger, more
      interesting factor is that our Dan has supposedly been updated
      somewhat for this new series - modernised, with respect to
      the Hampson original, I hear. Frewin said on Ceefax t'other
      day: 'respected and further developed to bring Dan up to date'.

     Hmm. I hope they haven't gone too far here. Dan's clunkiness
     is all part of the deal. He was created in a particular era, and
     you have to respect that or you lose the essence of the strip.
     I mean, if you bring him slam up to date you're so far removed
     from what he is, you may just as well invent your own new
     hero instead of messing with a retro classic...

     Still, I'm intrigued and thrilled. If they lean it towards a more
     sophisticated audience, a la Batman and co. it could be
     terrific, eh? - We'll see in time. Meanwhile, here's Nicholas
     Hill's top site dedicated to the original work:



     You know, Jan Dalibor's high-pitched squealers just won't
     go away. Pinky and Perky are apparently booked to appear
     at this year's Edinburgh Festival as a prelude and promotion
     towards their brand-new late-night tv comeback...

     Planet 24 (Big Breakfast, etc) are producing the series which will
     include new songs and interviews with established stars, whom
     we're told by gushing pr managers, are queueing up to appear
     on the show. Planet 24's Entertainment Chief Richard Woolfe
     says 'Pigs can get away with asking the difficult questions
     human presenters dare not ask'...

     All this ties in neatly with the Just Group's aquisition of the
     puppets' rights last year, and the launch of their new funky
     website, which is actually rather good:

     As for the new tv show, well I'm sceptical. It's kind of a lazy
     thing to do. Too easy. Pinky and Perky have always been for
     kids. I mean, look at the Beeb: they could have thrown away
     Bill And Ben in a new 'gimmicky' format for knowing adults.
     Instead they nurtured and developed a beautiful new animated
     series that's reaped great rewards. And as you can see below,
     they look like they might be about to repeat that success:



    Toot-toot! - That there nostalgia train is chuffing round yet again.
    This time it's bringing us Watch With Mother fave Andy Pandy
    in a new updated form...

    The BBC are to spend £1m on a stop-motion Andy Pandy
    series to be animated by the fantastically capable hands at
    Cosgrove Hall. The Cosgrove gang have, of course, recently
    animated the Beeb's updated Bill And Ben series to great
    acclaim. And before that they turned Noddy and Oakie Doke
    into equally-fine BBC success stories. If Andy turns out anything
    like these, we're in for another classic toon show, aren't we?

    Apparently, like Bill And Ben before, the plan is to expand
    Andy's world and take him into the nearby village where he'll
    meet new friends. In keeping with the original concept,
    however, Mr P will not be a speaking creation. Instead we'll
    have a narrator (just like the Flowerpot Men). Look out for Andy,
    Teddy, Looby and their new friends on BBC tv some time
    next year...



    A plug this month for the dynamic duo of Ian and Fionnadh at
    Little Gems, working tirelessly to bring you online memories
    of classic toons and tv past and not-so-past. Of course, I only
    feature their British toon pages, like those for the Big Knights
    Moschops, Joe and their recent Aubrey addition. But you really
    should take a look at the rest on offer - especially their fine
    pages on Deputy Dawg and The Banana Splits. They've also
    just added the original creakingly-brilliant Flash Gordon serials
    of olde, repeated so-frequently during school holidays here in
    blighty. All this, and exclusive interviews too - keep it up, Gems!...

    As for Yours Truly, well I almost managed all my upgrades
    last month, but Fleetway Street is still causing me grief. The
    revamp is continuing, but it's taking a painfully long time - there's
    so much information to cross-reference!

Still, it'll all be worth it in the end, eh?

    - Till next time!



- F2001