William Shatner to Host Annie Awards


ASIFA-Hollywood announcement:

ASIFA-Hollywood is proud to announce the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor, director, producer and one of pop culture’s most recognizable figures, William Shatner, will host the 37th Annual Annie Awards on Saturday, February 6, 2010, at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles, CA. The black-tie evening begins with a pre-reception at 5 p.m. followed by the Annie Awards ceremony at 7 p.m. and post award party at 10 p.m. All events will be held at Royce Hall. The Annie Awards ceremony will also be webcasted on http://www.annieawards.org beginning Tuesday, February 9, 2010.

In honor of the year’s best in animation, Shatner will be joined on stage by a lively mix of animation luminaries, celebrity presenters and comedic talent including animation legend June Foray. “ASIFA-Hollywood is honored to have William Shatner host this year’s Annie Awards,” says ASIFA-Hollywood President Antran Manoogian. “We are looking forward to Mr. Shatner’s unique and commanding presence presiding over the show.”

To view the list of voice acting-related nominees, click here.

In related news, if you haven’t yet seen Shatner’s Raw Nerve on the Biography Channel, it’s worth checking out. The show, currently in its second season, offers a fresh spin on the talk show format as Shatner gets up close and personal with his celebrity guests, which include some who have performed voiceovers for various TV/film productions: Leonard Nimoy, Tim Allen, Kelsey Grammer, Jason Alexander and Weird Al Yankovic. Preview clips and full episodes are available at Biography.com.

Thanks to ShadowWing Tronix of BW Media Spotlight for the heads-up on “Shatner’s Raw Nerve.”

Spike Spencer Cast in ‘Lunar: Silver Star Harmony’



Spike Spencer to Voice Characters in Lunar: Silver Star Harmony

LOS ANGELES, CA – Jan 14TH – It has been announced that actor Spike Spencer is to voice two characters in the Classic RPG Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, developed by Game Arts and XSEED Games, that will be released exclusively on the PSP system in Q1, 2010.

Spike will provide the voices for Nall (a small, winged creature resembling a white cat) and Eiphel (the main villain in the new Four Heroes scenario part of the game). “I really enjoyed being able to do two extremes of the voice spectrum in the same show,” said Spike. Nall’s voice is in a very high range and Eiphel’s is very low, thus showcasing the range in the actor’s voice.

Lunar: Silver Star Harmony (for the North American release) is the title of the Sony Playstation Portable remake of the Sega CD game Lunar: The Silver Star. The game, produced by GungHo Works and developed by GameArts, will be published and brought to North America by XSEED Games.

Story: Everything seems calm on the surface, but the world of Lunar is slowly devolving into chaos. The legendary Dragonmaster Dyne and his faithful companions have faded into obscurity and a shadowy figure known as the Magic Emperor begins to wreak havoc on the world created by the Goddess Althena. Meanwhile, in a small, humble village far removed from the turmoil in Lunar, lives a young man named Alex, who idolizes the legendary Dyne. Alex dreams of one day becoming the next Dragonmaster and matching the accomplishments of his life-long hero. With Ramus, his childhood friend, and with his adopted sister Luna, Alex heads off on what seems to be a meaningless adventure, unaware that it would be the first step in an epic journey with the fate of the entire world at stake.

Since it debuted over a decade ago, Lunar: Silver Star Story has continuously captivated fans with its timeless tale of love, betrayal and redemption, expertly woven into its involving gameplay and cinematic presentation. The classic masterpiece has now been reborn on the PSP as Lunar: Silver Star Harmony.

Lunar: Silver Star Harmony features all new graphics, added gameplay features, and a re-mastered soundtrack so a whole new generation of fans can experience this legendary first entry of the Lunar universe, while added story elements are sure to intrigue returning fans alike.

“This is going to be an especially exciting showcase for XSEED Games as we just announced new titles that represent what our fans have been asking for,” said Jun Iwasaki, President of XSEED Games. “We are especially excited to be releasing them in the North American market and look forward to supporting our growing fan base”.

Limited Edition version contains a soundtrack CD and a set of 13 exclusive “bromide” collector cards highlighting the girls of Lunar
A Classic RPG Brought to a New Generation of Fans – Widely acclaimed as one of the best RPGs of all time, the original Lunar is back to be experienced by a new generation of gamers

All graphics have been redone to take full advantage of the widescreen format and processing power of the PSP; Newly composed songs added to the remastered original soundtrack ensure the new audio experience is just as impressive as the graphical overhaul

Expanded Battle System – First introduced in Lunar Legend, the Arts Gauge System that allows players to unleash devastating attacks or heal party members has been implemented to add another dimension to the battle system

All-New Additional Story Elements – The beloved original story has been expanded and fleshed out with new cut-scenes and story sequences, revealing more about the four heroes and answering some of the questions left unresolved in the original

Image courtesy Spike Spencer

ABOUT SPIKE SPENCER: An accomplished actor, Spike Spencer has worked onscreen with such notable stars as Tommy Lee Jones, Sandra Bullock, Frank Langella, Tia Carrere, and Scott Glenn.

In the realm of voice acting he has voiced hundreds of episodes of Anime including Evangelion, Spriggan, Nadesico, Mar, Pre Tear, Code Geass 2, Buso Renkin and Bleach as well as numerous video games including World of Warcraft-The Burning Crusades, Tales of Vesperia, Trauma Center, Steambot Chronicles, and Star Ocean 2. Spike has lent his voice to many radio and television commercials and campaigns.

Spike is also an author/screenwriter and is in pre-production on his first feature film that he scripted, “Dwindle Down.”

Learn more about Spike at:
http://www.almostevilminions.com – coming soon

Featured Voices: Bobbin Beam


Voice talent Bobbin Beam offers an inspiring and motivating plan for achieving success that’s applicable not just for beginning voice actors and professionals, but for everyday life.

SlateV Tests Your Ear for Celebrity Voices


From SlateV.com:

The ’00s were the decade in which movie stars discovered how to make big money in TV commercials without actually having to appear on screen [via] uncredited voiceovers.

Click here for their video trivia challenge featuring 10 celebrity voices. (I scored an 8 out of 10.)

Watching this video, I was reminded of another article from Slate.com dated March 28, 2005 — The voice-over gets a make-over —  in which the writer admits that he “never paid much attention to voice-overs,” yet even in 2005 he noted the industry trend toward celebrity voice casting and its impact on what the writer refers to as “non-celebrity” voice actors:

There’s no stigma attached to doing voice work anymore. It’s low-stress (no make-up or hairstyling), and with the residuals it can be amazingly lucrative. So, stars are popping up all over the place: Richard Dreyfuss for Honda. Julia Roberts for AOL. Gene Hackman for Oppenheimer Funds and Lowe’s.

How many viewers actually pick up on these famous voices? A few. And when they do, it lends a shimmer of endorsement to the brand. By now, you’re probably aware that it’s Julia Roberts’ voice in the AOL ads (either because you’ve read something, friends have clued you in, or you’ve recognized her voice on your own). This is the next best thing to having Roberts appear in an AOL ad—which will never happen.

The upshot here is that work is getting scarcer for non-celebrity voice-over artists. And the very nature of the job is changing. Agencies now ask for voice types by naming a celebrity (e.g., “We’re looking for a Rob Morrow sound here”), where they used to just ask for adjectives (like “authoritative” or “honest”). Voice-over pros must now keep track of what popular stars sound like—and determine which ones they can imitate.

I recommend reading the complete article — still very relevant today (especially for beginners and professionals) as it addresses the now-dated announcery-type sound, how to give a “celebrity read,” clients’ preference for younger-sounding voices, the expanding talent pool, and the talent’s approach to reading copy.

And on a related note, I’d like to take this opportunity to plug Campaign for Real Voices, a Facebook group “dedicated to convincing the big wigs in Hollywood to hire REAL Voice Actors to do the voice over work for their movies and games.”

The idea for this group was sparked from anime and video game voice actor Kyle Hebert‘s live chat on Stickam. Within a very short time, the group has accumulated more than 1,300 members, including 50+ professional voice actors such as noted animation VAs Michael Bell, Bob Bergen, Garry Chalk, Chris Patton, Wendee Lee, Tara Strong and Paul Eiding (just to name a few).

This is a campaign I fully support and endorse, with hopes that it will have positive impact on what has unfortunately become a celebrity-favored industry, especially in animation where “celebrities” are cast simply for their celebrity status and their presumed box office impact whereas those roles should go to the actors who give the best audition, are the best fit for the character and have the experience to back it up.

Related posts:
– 12.11.2009 — Celebrity Voice Acting Round-Up
– 8.28.2009 — Car and Driver Says Celebs are ‘Taking Over Car Commercials’
– 7.07.2009 — Trend Changing in Celebrity Voice Casting?

Children’s Audio Publisher Attempts to Avoid Bankruptcy


CNN.com reports:

Trudy Corporation announced today that it had entered into a definitive Asset Purchase Agreement whereby Trudy would sell substantially all of its assets to MMAC, LLC, which also would assume certain liabilities of Trudy. Trudy Corporation is a publisher of children’s educational story and novelty books, audiobooks and plush toys, doing business as Soundprints, Studio Mouse and Music for Little People.com and located in Norwalk, Connecticut.

About Trudy Corporation

Founded in 1947 as a stuffed toy manufacturer, Trudy Corporation today is a prominent publisher of educational story books, read along audiobooks and plush toy manipulatives under licenses with the Smithsonian Institution, American Veterinary Medical Association and the African Wildlife Foundation. It also holds “edutainment” novelty book and audiobook licenses with Disney Publishing Worldwide, Inc, and Sesame Workshop. The Company’s Soundprints products may be found in school libraries, museums, zoos and aquaria flagged by their many Teacher’s Choice, Parents Choice and Benjamin Franklin Awards. Studio Mouse is the leading publisher of book and audio novelty books distributed in warehouse clubs and the mass market. Over 35% of Studio Mouse and Soundprints products are sold internationally in 35 countries. The Company holds a Disney license in the Spanish language for Spain. Believing that educational manipulatives and an audio component to books are critical to developing reading skills and fostering literacy in schools and home, the Company bought MusicForLittlePeople.Com and the companion direct mail catalog in 2008 to build the Company’s direct to consumer and library business.

MusicforLittlePeople.com is also a distributor for popular children’s singer-songwriter Raffi.

Related post: 12.18.2009 — Library Journal Picks Best Audiobooks, and Workshop Event