Toy Story 3 Cast News (Woody’s) Round-Up

02.13.2010

I’ll continue to update this report on the Toy Story 3 cast as the highly-anticipated June 18th, 2010 release date approaches.

Update: 2.15.2010:

Toy Story 3 represents at NYC’s 2010 International Toy Fair. Disney’s official press release has the full details, and here are some publicity photos from the event featuring: “John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, Lee Unkrich, director, Toy Story 3, Darla K. Anderson, producer, Toy Story 3 and John Ratzenberger, voice of Hamm.”

(February 14, 2010, NY, NY) Actor John Ratzenberger, voice of Toy Story character Hamm, and John Lasseter, creator of Toy Story, unveiled more than 250 new Toy Story 3 toys including, Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear at a Disney-Pixar event during the American International Toy Fair in New York City. Ratzenberger is known as Pixar's 'lucky charm' as he's appeared in every Pixar film to date. Toy Story 3 releases in U.S. theaters June 18, 2010. (Photo/Stuart Ramson)

(February 14, 2010, NY, NY) John Lasseter, creator of Toy Story, studies a life-size bust of his likeness made of LEGO bricks at a Disney-Pixar event where more than 250 new Toy Story 3 toys were unveiled during the American International Toy Fair in New York City. With this one-of-a-kind piece, LEGO celebrates Lasseter’s induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame and the upcoming release of Toy Story 3 in U.S. theaters June 18, 2010.(Photo/Stuart Ramson)

Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 3 kicked off the American International Toy Fair in New York City with a plethora of new toys and playthings that pay homage and celebrate the best the toy industry has to offer. In a playful, Toy Story-themed setting before an invitation-only crowd of toy industry insiders, Green Army Men descended from the ceiling in 'take-over' mode as they helped John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, Lee Unkrich, director, Toy Story 3, Darla K. Anderson, producer, Toy Story 3 and John Ratzenberger, voice of Hamm, unveil a first look at some of the more than 250 new toys releasing this Summer and into the 2010 Holidays. In this picture from left to right: Darla K. Anderson, John Lasseter, and Lee Unrich with the life-size LEGO bust of Lasseter. (Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010.)

Elsewhere, The Hollywood Reporter briefly interviewed Ratzenberger at the event, who “lauded Pixar for producing films using not focus groups, but instinct in what he says is a throw-back to the golden age of Hollywood. ‘It all comes exactly from the heart,’ he said.”

Originally published 2.13.2010:

– The new Toy Story 3 trailer is now available (via toonzone.net).

– I’ve been asked a few times recently who will be replacing the late Jim Varney as the voice of Slinky Dog in Toy Story 3, and I keep forgetting to mention it here. TS3 director Lee Unkrich actually announced via video on October 12, 2009 that the voice would be provided by Blake Clark who not only sounds incredibly like Varney but Unkrich says Clark was a longtime, close friend of Varney’s as well.

– The new trailer (linked above) features the first time we hear the voices of Michael Keaton as Ken, Ned Beatty as “Lotso” (aka “Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear”) and Whoopi Goldberg as the “Purple Octopus.” I’m still trying to I.D. the voice of the Triceratops toy and the Fisher Price toy phone — any guesses would be welcome via the comment box below.

Disney also released a 1-minute featurette in January which features the voice of Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants (via Disney’s official YouTube channel, which Disney has disabled embedding for so click the links to view the trailers):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-tI3JL-Kck

In October 2009, Disney released a trailer which features the voice of Blake Clark as Slinky Dog:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcpWXaA2qeg

– On Feb. 11th, Unkrich stated via Twitter (@leeunkrich): “I perform a single line of dialogue in Toy Story 3, and that line happens to be in the trailer.” In a follow-up post he revealed it’s the voice of the Jack in the box toy.

– According to IMDb.com and Wikipedia.org, following is the Toy Story 3 voice cast list (noted as confirmed or rumored in parentheses).

  • Tom Hanks – Woody (confirmed)
  • Tim Allen – Buzz Lightyear (confirmed)
  • Joan Cusack – Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl (confirmed)
  • John Ratzenberger – Hamm the Piggy Bank (confirmed)
  • Wallace Shawn – Rex (confirmed)
  • Don Rickles – Mr. Potato Head (confirmed)
  • Estelle Harris – Mrs. Potato Head (confirmed)
  • Blake Clark – Slinky Dog (confirmed)
  • Annie Potts – Bo Peep (character confirmed; it’s assumed that Potts will reprise her role but it’s still unconfirmed)
  • Jeff Pidgeon – Aliens, aka “Little Green Men” (characters confirmed; it’s assumed that Pidgeon will reprise his roles from the previous 2 films)
  • Jodi Benson – Barbie (confirmed)
  • Michael Keaton – Ken (confirmed)
  • Lee Unkrich – Jack in the Box (confirmed)
  • Whoopi Goldberg – “Purple Octopus” (character still unnamed, voice confirmed)
  • Bonnie Hunt – “Purple-haired doll” (character still unnamed, voice confirmed)
  • John Morris – Andy Davis (confirmed)
  • Laurie Metcalf – Mrs. Davis (Andy’s mom, confirmed)
  • R. Lee Ermey – Sergeant (the Army Men are confirmed to appear; it’s assumed that Ermey will reprise his role as Sergeant)
  • Timothy Dalton – Mr. Pricklepants (confirmed)
  • Kristen Schaal – Trixie (character name rumored, voice confirmed)
  • Ned Beatty – “Lotso,” aka “Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear” (confirmed)
  • Jeff Garlin – Twitch (rumored)

On Nov. 8, 2009, Unkrich confirmed via Twitter that RC, Lenny, and Wheezy would return for TS3. While RC doesn’t “speak” (except for whirring sounds), Lenny (the toy Binoculars) and Wheezy (squeaky penguin toy) were both originally voiced by the late Joe Ranft. It has not been announced if Lenny or Wheezy will have speaking lines in TS3.

Slashfilm.com has a pictorial analysis of “easter eggs” hidden in the new trailer (linked above).

– TS3 director Unkrich has also been “tweeting” photos of the cast in the recording studio:
Beatrice Miller (Andy’s sister)
Wallace Shawn (Rex) and additional photo here
Michael Keaton (Ken)
Tim Allen (Buzz)
Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head)
Timothy Dalton (Mr. Pricklepants)
John Ratzenberger (Hamm)
Tom Hanks (Woody)
Estelle Harris (Mrs. Potato Head)
Bonnie Hunt (not yet announced)

Unkrich has also been auctioning Pixar memorabilia on ebay as a fundraiser for Haiti relief, including items signed by Pixar’s voice actors.

John Morris, voice of Andy Davis in the Toy Story series, is now on Twitter.

– Check out the Toy Story 3 trailer in 40 different languages.

Additional sources: IMDb.com, Wikpedia.org, ComingSoon.net


Vanity Fair’s Top Hollywood Earners of 2009

02.06.2010

I might have saved this one for the next edition of Frivolous List Friday except that it involves some heretofore unmentioned upcoming animated feature films and details on earnings from voiceovers — a “hot topic” here as one of this blog’s most-read articles.

Names of note on Vanity Fair’s list of “Top Hollywood Earners”:

#7. Ben Stiller: Madagascar film series
– VF: Estimated “$5 million: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (back-end bonus for voice work, and share of DVD)”

#8. Tom Hanks: Toy Story series
– VF: Est. “$15 million: Toy Story 3 (fee for voice work in upcoming “3-D-quel”)”

#12. Adam Sandler: voices in 8 Crazy Nights and upcoming Zookeeper
– VF: Est. “$2 million: Zookeeper (fee for voice work in and producing upcoming animated feature)”

#16. Owen Wilson: voices in Cars and upcoming Cars 2 sequel and Marmaduke
– VF: Est. “$1 million: Marmaduke (fee for voice work in upcoming animated film based on tired comic strip)”

#17. Nicolas Cage: G-Force
– VF: Est. “$2 million: G-Force (back-end bonus for voice work, based on worldwide gross of $285 million)”

#19. Cameron Diaz: Shrek series
– VF: Est. “$10 million: Shrek Forever After (fee for voice work in upcoming 3-D “fourquel”)”

#21. Johnny Depp: voice in upcoming Rango animated feature
– VF: Est. “$7.5 million: Rango (fee for voice work in upcoming animated film)”

#22. Steve Carell: voices in Over the Hedge and upcoming Despicable Me
– VF: Est. “$500,000: Despicable Me (fee for voice work in upcoming animated feature)”

#29. George Clooney: Fantastic Mr. Fox
– Earnings info from Fantastic Mr. Fox not available.

#31. Reese Witherspoon: Monsters vs Aliens
– VF: Est. “$10 million: Monsters vs. Aliens (back end for voice work, based on worldwide gross of $381 million, and share of DVD)”

#40. Brad Pitt: voice in upcoming Megamind feature film
– VF: Est. “$5 million: Megamind (fee for voice work)”

Related post: 4.27.2009 — How Much Do Voice Actors Earn?


Forbes Lists ‘Most Trusted Celebrities’

01.27.2010

Forbes journalist Lacey Rose has published a top 10 list (via E-Poll) of celebrities considered most-trusted by consumers:

1. James Earl Jones
2. Tom Hanks
3. Michael J. Fox
4. Mike Rowe
5. Morgan Freeman
6. Sally Field
7. Ron Howard
8. Will Smith
9. Bill Cosby
10. Denzel Washington

Rose’s article addresses the corporate marketing use of celebrity spokespersons, which follows a semi-regular topic on this blog and other VO forums as it relates to celebrity voiceovers:

Why bother at all with stars? “In a very crowded media environment its hard for companies to stand out,” says Gerry Philpott, president of Los Angeles-based E-Poll Market Research, who gauges the marketability of hundreds of public figures for clients. “They need those names to cut through the clutter.”

Celebrity Endorsement Network president Noreen Jenney believes the repercussions of [Tiger] Woods’–as well as his sponsors’–saga will be felt in subtle ways in the coming months and deals. Among them: Marketers will do that much more diligence on stars’ personal lives before signing them to represent their brands. What’s more, in a post-Tiger era she expects contracts will be written a little differently and marketers will be able to enforce stricter morality clauses regardless of a star’s clout.

A few of the individuals on Forbes’ list have come into high demand as corporate and commercial spokespersons — particularly for voiceovers — such as James Earl Jones, Mike Rowe and Morgan Freeman.

Although Jones is most-widely recognized for voicing Darth Vader (one of the most iconic villains in film history), his voice has been less-villainous as the voice of Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King, the image voice for CNN and both the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics, and as the narrator for an unabridged audio recording of the King James Bible New Testament (a critically-acclaimed NY Times best-seller).

And while Mike Rowe has gained prominence as the host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, he’s also the spokesperson for Ford/Lincoln-Mercury and has served as narrator/announcer for nearly a dozen popular TV productions such as Ghost Hunters, Ghost Lab, Deadliest Catch and American Chopper.

Morgan Freeman has become the guy that over 54,000 fans on Facebook wish narrated their lives (and over a million on Facebook are fans of his voice).

I’ve been a fan of Morgan Freeman since he played “Easy Reader” and “Count Dracula” on The Electric Company (1971-77), and we also share the same hometown of Memphis, TN (I believe we were even born in the same hospital, although about 35 years apart). He also starred in and narrated my favorite live-action film The Shawshank Redemption, and has narrated many other films and TV productions as well.

On Jan. 4th, The CBS Evening News replaced the late Walter Cronkite with Morgan Freeman to voice the show’s opening.

I started writing an op-ed piece about this afterwards and then dropped it since my fellow VO-blogger Peter O’Connell already said it better than I could, and it was a hot topic on VO-BB and Voiceover Universe as well.

Freeman was interviewed in the January 2010 print edition of Cowboys & Indians Magazine [<–click to read online] discussing his love for horses and "The Old West," and his role as Nelson Mandela in Invictus (for which Freeman also served as executive producer).

Added: 2.02.2010 — You must see video game voice actor and promo announcer Josh Robert Thomspon‘s video featuring his Morgan Freeman sound-alike for The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson:

Thanks to Josh for the heads-up on the video via Facebook.

Related posts:
– 1.14.2010 — Hollywood Actors Face ‘Special Challenges’ in Voice Acting
– 1.02.2010 — SlateV Tests Your Ear for Celebrity Voices


Forbes Ranks ‘Animation’s A-List Actors’

03.20.2009

Must have been a slow news day for Forbes to cause reporter Lauren Straub to make the effort to research and rank “Animation’s A-List Actors” which Straub defines as the “10 most successful actors at getting audiences to tune into ‘toons.”

Straub says, “To collect the list of animation’s A-list, we looked at the animated films released since 1980 that earned at least $50 million domestically and compiled a list of every actor who portrayed a top-billed character in at least one of the movies. We ranked the actors based on the film’s box-office earnings and the actor’s media presence tied to the film. If an actor was in more than one movie, the figures were averaged.”

And the resulting list:

Eddie Murphy
Mike Myers
Cameron Diaz
Owen Wilson
Tim Allen
Tom Hanks
Robin Williams
Ellen DeGeneres
Jack Black
Ben Stiller

I think it’s important to note that Straub’s list ignores the co-stars of the films mentioned: Ellen DeGeneres’ Finding Nemo co-star Albert Brooks; Owen Wilson’s Cars co-stars Dan Whitney (aka Larry The Cable Guy), Bonnie Hunt, and Paul Newman; Jack Black’s Kung Fu Panda co-stars Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, and Jackie Chan; and Ben Stiller’s Madagascar co-stars Chris Rock and Alec Baldwin. This makes the list appear to be subjective selections, which in my opinion negates the entire point of the article.

The article continues:

Casting an animation role isn’t as simple as finding a big name. “As a casting director, I’d like to hire the best person for the job,” say Ruth Lambert, a casting director. But, she adds, big-name stars are a way for production companies to get better distribution and better financing, especially in the international market. “A lot of times we end up hiring people not because they are right for the part but for what they can provide.”

Though A-listers can bring comedic talent that transcends star power. Lisa Stewart, a producer on the upcoming Monsters vs. Aliens, says the project’s stars brought an invaluable talent for improvisation. Producers would bring Seth Rogen or Stephen Colbert into the recording studio with some lines and “let them go,” says Stewart. “We’d just be on the other side of the booth in hysterics.”

Straub also incorrectly credits Robin Williams as “one of the first big-name actors to voice an animated character,” when it actually originated with Walt Disney hiring stars from radio, stage, and film to voice characters in his animated features some 50 years before the studio hired Williams to voice the Genie in Aladdin. Furthermore, it was not The Lion King but Transformers: The Movie (1986) that was genuinely the first animated feature where a studio actively recruited several celebrities for lead characters and used their “star power” to promote the film (as I discussed here previously).

Straub goes on to offer other inaccuracies and contradictions in her article, although she did finally get it right when she said, “The lasting appeal of a film’s characters clearly trumps the fleeting popularity of today’s voice-over stars.”

I’ve no doubt that Pixar’s films like the Toy Story movies, Cars, and The Incredibles would have been no less entertaining regardless of who voiced the lead roles. With Pixar’s track record, they could have cast complete unknowns and yet those films would still have been successful because they strive to maintain a high standard of quality…which doesn’t seem to be of much concern to the studios cranking out formulaic animated crap. Pixar also understands and emphasizes what is most important about a film: the story and the characters. And if studios could make quality animated films with an entertaining story and likable characters, and cast actors who actually fit the characters rather than casting celebrities based on their potential box office draw, the films would likely be more commercially successful. And there’s plenty of evidence that star voices have done little to boost the success of some animated films, like the recent The Tale of Despereaux, for example, which barely cracked $50 million at the box office despite the celebrity voice cast.

While casting Hollywood stars may indeed convince a small percentage of the public to see an animated film, it ultimately boils down to the film’s overall entertainment value as to whether it becomes successful (although there are exceptions, like the critically-acclaimed The Iron Giant, which Warner Bros made no real effort to promote).

Animated films are generally made for kids and families anyway. And if kids aren’t interested in seeing it, celebrity casting adds little to no value towards making the film a hit with the target demographic. As casting director Lambert says in the article, “I have a 7-year-old son, and he doesn’t care who’s in the movie. He just wants to be amused.”

Source: ToonZone.net