40th Annual Annie Awards – 2013 (part 1)

The 40th annual Annie Awards took place this past Saturday, February 2, in Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA. Even though we love ya’ Tomorrow, the Annies have nothing to do with little singing red-haired orphans. ASIFA-Hollywood formed the Annies to honor the best and the brightest in the field of animation. They were conceived by founding member and legendary voice actress June Foray (Tweety’s Granny, Rocky the flying squirrel). So, when the lights went down in the auditorium Saturday night, the industry was on hand to honor the fantastic work unveiled in 2012.

I had a nice bird’s eye view of the stage from my perch in the balcony. It was great to see several personal friends and colleagues walk to the stage to accept their golden zoetrope trophies throughout the ceremony.


Annie Awards stage
The Annies’ stage right before the festivities began. Also, the back of the head of the great animator T. Dan Hofstedt.


The ceremony was hosted by film critic and animation aficionado Leonard Maltin, occasionally aided by the voices of Pinky and the Brain Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche. And there were many celebrity presenters on hand from movies and television, but all having worked as voice actors in animation.


Maurice LaMarche, Leonard Maltin, Seth Green and Rob Paulsen having a conversation on stage at the Annie Awards.


June Foray and Leonard Maltin
Rocky & Bullwinkle? Close – June “Rocky” Foray and Leonard “not Bullwinkle” Maltin just before presenting the June Foray Award to Howard Green of the Walt Disney Studios.


June Foray and Tex Avery
June Foray was surprised on stage by Reel FX when they presented her with their Texas Avery Award for her many years of work in animation. June was overwhelmed with gratitude, and regaled the audience with tales of having worked with Tex Avery as far back as on the famous “Red Hot Riding Hood”.


Despicable Me award
Chris Bailey accepting the Annie for Best Animated Special Production awarded to “Despicable Me – Minion Mayhem”, an immersive attraction that you can experience at Universal Studios Florida. Actor Sam Witwer (Being Human) stands behind him on the right.


Dragons: Riders of Berk
John Eng accepting his award for directing on Dreamworks’ “Dragons: Riders of Berk” television show. John and I were working on a movie based on Zhu Zhu Pets (that strangely enough also contains a dragon) when he left to direct on “Dragons”, so it was exciting to see him win. And yes, that is actress Mindy Sperling from “Austin Powers” over his shoulder.


Pooh and Bart Simpson
Voice actor Jim Cummings and “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening. Jim helped present a couple of awards not only as himself, but also as both Tigger and Winnie the Pooh to the delight of the audience.


Ming-Na Wen
Actress Ming-Na Wen (voice of Disney’s Mulan) who presented the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement to Mulan’s animator Mark Henn.


animator Mark Henn
Mark Henn giving a very heartfelt and humble speech after accepting his Winsor McCay Award. Mark’s work at Disney includes animating Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, young Simba, Tiana, Oliver, Dodger, Pooh, and even all the dancing hula girls at the beginning of “Lilo & Stitch”. He also directed the very stylish short “John Henry”. The other two Winsor McCay recipients of the evening included Oscar Grillo and Terry Gilliam.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Cowabunga – it’s the cast from the latest “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” with Sean Astin (Goonies, Lord of the Rings, Rudy), Mae Whitman (Parenthood), Greg Cipes, Jason Biggs and Rob Paulsen.


Wreck-It Ralph
Director Rich Moore (who won earlier for directing a feature) and producer Clark Spencer accepting the Best Animated Feature Annie Award for their movie “Wreck-It Ralph”. “Ralph” won four awards that night along with Disney winning Best Animated Short with “Paperman” the short film that played in front of “Wreck-It Ralph”.


There was plenty of time for socializing at the Annies with both a pre party where many “good lucks” were wished, and an after party where much back slapping was experienced by those who won awards. If you would like to see a full list of the nominees and winners, please CLICK HERE.


Matt Groening and Tony Bancroft
Simpsons creator Matt Groening having a chat with Mulan director Tony Bancroft.
Annie Awards after party
Yours truly, actor Sam Witwer from “Being Human” and nominated that evening for voicing Darth Maul in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, Sam’s wife Sarah, their friend Daniel, and my friend and colleague Steffi Larson.