In addition to producing the Oscars, I’ve had a very busy fall working with many wonderful actors.
Mike Epps and I on the set of UNCLE BUCK, his new show on ABC. Mike posted this picture with the caption “Reggie Hudlin and I burnin’ bridges!”, which was a reference to the script. We had a great time together on set.
When you have a star like Mike Epps on set, other celebrities drop by, like TI. Humble, charming, funny and every inch a star. I can’t wait to work with him.
Eva Longoria invited me to direct an episode of TELENOVELA, a funny new series on NBC. Don’t let the beauty fool you – Eva is a dynamo! She’s producing the series, very politically active and very charitable. She’s also devoted to her family – we both have mothers who are mental health experts. Love her personality and her politics – we both bonded over black and brown unity.
Me with Jose Moreno Brooks and Alex Meneses, two of the hilarious stars of TELENOVELA.
I stopped by to pay homage to GOAT Sidney Poitier who received the NAACP’s highest honor, the Springarn Award. I kept it quick and thanked him for directing and starring in BUCK AND THE PREACHER, which I saw many times at the Loew’s State Theater in downtown St. Louis.
Writer/director Nelson George was in town to support his great new film A BALLERINA’S TALE starring Misty Copeland, which was a great reason for old friends to gather. From left to right is Brian Siberell, Nelson’s agent at CAA; Nelson George; legendary producer Sean Daniels and myself.
My kids keep asking me to make a movie they can see… so here’s one!
Cartoon Brew, by Scott Thill | 11/09/2015
An homage to Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks’ 1974 western spoof, Blazing Samurai is a global animated affair — with a newly announced all-star cast.
Arriving stateside August 4, 2017, from AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment’s Open Road Films, Blazing Samurai stars Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Aasif Mandvi, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Sandra Tsing Loh, Mel B., Heavenly Joy Jerkins, and Mel Brooks himself as a madcap array of cats and dogs comedically battling for samurai supremacy not in the Wild West but the faraway Japanese East.
Co-directed by Alvin and the Chipmunks and Garfield animation supervisor Chris Bailey and veteran Disney animator Mark Koetsier, Blazing Samurai also features art direction from New Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show and Steven Universe’s Kevin Dart. Toronto, Canada-based CG animation and visual effects shop Arc Productions (Gnomeo & Juliet) is the lead animation house.
As Cartoon Brew reported earlier this year, Blazing Samurai is the first feature film produced through former Sony Pictures Vice Chairman Yair Landau’s Mass Animation, which originally launched as a Facebook application to crowdsource and produce global animation, including Live Music, which Mass Animation bills as the “first ever theatrically released crowdsourced animated film.” Landau is producing Blazing Samurai with The Lion King director Rob Minkoff and Mass Animation’s Susan Purcell.
But the film’s international partnerships extend further. Blazing Samurai is co-produced with Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, one of China’s largest film and television studios, as well as Minkoff’s multi-platform production company Flying Tigers Entertainment and London-based GFM Films. Mel Brooks is executive producing alongside The Boondocks’ Reginald Hudlin and Pietro Ventani, from a screenplay by Ed Stone and Nate Hopper.
Hewing lightly to not just Blazing Saddles but also Kung Fu Panda’s lovable loser storylines (and race jokes), Blazing Samurai stars Cera as an upstart dog named Hank who enlists the mentorship of Jackson’s past-it cat warrior Jimbo to transform himself into a samurai to save the crappy town of Kakamucho (get it?) from villainous felines like Gervais’ power-mad Ika Chu.
Much like in Blazing Saddles, Brooks stars as a bumbling but benevolent leader, this time named Shogun. “There is no business like Shogun business,” Brooks said in a press release. “What is wonderful about the film is that it is going to have great appeal not only for kids but their parents too. It’s funny and smart.”
Rounding out Blazing Samurai’s substantial cast, Takei voices the enforcer, Ohga; Hounsou voices the sweet giant, Sumo; Mandvi and Iglesias star as Kakamucho towncats, Ichiro and Chuck; acclaimed author Tsing Loh voices the crotchety “grand dame,” Little Mama; and Chinese cinema’s superstar and stuntwoman Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) voices Yuki, protective mother of the five-year-old Jerkins’ warrior kitten, Emiko.
Handling international sales, GFM Films hosted a presentation of Blazing Samurai’s early animation and visual development last week at Santa Monica, California’s American Film Market. Open Road Films acquired U.S. distribution rights earlier this year, while Landau’s ex-studio Sony Pictures recently picked up several global territories worldwide. Huayi Brothers is distributing Blazing Samurai in China.
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