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Toy Story 3 Features “Classic” Bear

The newest Toy Story film, due in theaters June 18, features a “classic” toy, Lots-o’-Huggin’ bear, that never existed at all. To give the bear credibility as a classic, Pixar created a fake commercial, ’80s style, made to look like it was recorded onto a VHS tape, and set it loose on the internet. It’s pretty convincing.

See the Yahoo! Movie article and the Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear commercial here.

CBS Celebrates 50th Anniversary of The Andy Griffith Show

The Andy Griffith Show is returning to North Carolina with the debut of an original commemorative racecar that pays tribute to the iconic series. CBS Consumer Products, in conjunction with HLG Licensing, has announced a partnership with Front Row Motorsports and the No. 34 Ford Fusion team. The car, to be driven by NASCAR driver Travis Kvapil, is slated to make its first appearance in the NASCAR Banking 500 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 16, broadcast by ABC.

The partnership marks the second time that CBS Consumer Products has come together with the NASCAR organization to feature a car scheme based on The Andy Griffith Show. In addition, CBS Consumer Products will be developing a merchandising and promotional program around the NASCAR partnership and will soon be announcing a line of products in the apparel, accessories, gift, and toy categories.

Pee-Wee Herman to Join The Smurfs

As reported on Yahoo! Movies, Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman, is joining the cast of the upcoming live-action Smurfs movie from Sony/Columbia Pictures.

Reuben will play Jokey Smurf, who, incidentally, was my favorite Smurf. He was the one who used to give his friends presents that blew up when they opened them, then crack up about it. It was funny because I love mean-spirited humor, and because they fell for it again and again. There’s some sort of Pavlovian lesson to be learned here.

The Smurfs movie is due out sometime next year.

For a trip down memory lane, here’s the opening for the old Smurfs cartoon, followed by the opening for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Man, I’m really getting old.

—Jennifer Sinclair

TLB is Heading to Vegas!

Whew!

We just finished sending the April/May issue to the printer. It should be in your hands, faithful fans, in about two weeks, and up online sooner than that! Be sure to check it out for our Tribute to TV, Pet Licensing, and other great stories. Also check out our swanky new layout and design elements courtesy of the brilliant guidance of Toy Book Editor in Chief Jackie Breyer!

We’re now thinking about the Licensing Show issue—we’ll be in Vegas before you know it. Please send all awesome Licensing Show-related news, press releases, and artwork to Bryan Joiner at bjoiner@licensingbook.com or Jennifer Sinclair at jsinclair@licensingbook.com, or both of us, by May 3. We can’t wait to read them!

See you in Vegas, baby!

Super New Deals for Marvel

Shout! Factory and Marvel Animation have expanded their partnership to bring the Marvel Knights Animation series to the U.S. home entertainment marketplace. The announcement was made today by Shout! Factory founding partners Richard Foos, Bob Emmer, and Garson Foos; and Marvel Animation President Eric Rollman.

Under the multi-year agreement, Shout! Factory will be the exclusive U.S. home entertainment distributor with licensing rights to Marvel Knights Animation properties, including Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, Black Panther, Iron Man: Extremis, Spider-Woman, and others to be announced soon.

Early this year, Shout! Factory announced an agreement with Marvel Animation to be the exclusive U.S. home entertainment distributor to Marvel’s animated series, The Super Hero Squad Show.

In other Marvel news, Marvel Entertainment and Paramount Pictures have teamed with Burger King for an Iron Man 2-themed Kids’ Meal promotion in advance of the movie’s May 7 release.

Each Kids’ Meal will come with one of eight Iron Man 2 toys.Kids can collect up to eight Iron Man 2 toys, including four targeted towards girls and four for boys. Additionally, kids can find an Iron Man 2 Zoom Space game online at www.ClubBK.com.

To hold you over until May 7, here’s the Iron Man 2 trailer:

Atari draws fans to Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers

Atari Inc has announced its line-up of partners to support the launch of the all-new Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers video game for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, Wii and Nintendo DS shipping on May 25.

Franklin Sports product and brand integration will appear in Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers including a pitching machine, logos on fields, and billboards, and Franklin Sports branding will be seen alongside the activity tips on loading screens which promote physical activity for kids.

GT Beverages will feature the Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers logo on its Sportastic Sports Drink from May to June 2010.  Additionally, Backyard Sports and Sportastic will create a promotional tie-in with U.S. GameStop locations to drive awareness and sales of the game and Sportastic drinks.

The Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers video game will serve as the exclusive game on the East and West coasts for the Baseball Youth Road Trip FANFEST, an interactive traveling tour visiting youth baseball tournaments across the United States.

Lastly, the partnership with the National Alliance for Youth Sports, Inc. will promote the game its e-newsletter.  In addition, Atari will make a donation for the NAYS Excellence in Youth Sports Awards in the name of Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers.

New Ray Charles products on the way

Act III Licensing announced the addition of new licensees for Ray Charles on behalf of its client the Ray Charles Marketing Group. To help celebrate the kick-off of his 80th Anniversary, Friend or Foe is designing Men’s fashion tee-shirts that will debut in the Fall at high-end retail and specialty. They add Ray Charles to their iconic roster which includes Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin.

In addition to Friend or Foe, other Ray Charles licensees include:

Allposters.com/Art.com for framed art
Yerzies for print on demand tees
• Medium Cool for tee-shirts as part of the Jim Marshall collection

In other news, Unchain My Heart, a new musical biography of Ray Charles, is headed to Broadway in the fall of 2010. Featuring a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, The Book of Grace) and direction by Sheldon Epps, the show will begin previews on October 8 and open on November 7 at a Shubert theater to be announced.

Act III Licensing will be featuring Ray Charles at Licensing Show, June 8-10, 2010 in Las Vegas, Booth #2063.

Iconix Buys 80% of United Media Licensing

E.W. Scripps is selling the licensing rights to Peanuts, Snoopy, Dilbert and all the other characters in its United Media Licensing to Iconix Brand Group, Inc. for $175 million.

Iconix has formed a partnership with the family of Charles Schulz, whose creations represent the majority of United Media’s licensing business.
Iconix is buying 80 percent of United Media Licensing, while the Schulz family will retain ownership of the other 20 percent.

Scripps still owns United Media’s syndication operation and will continue to syndicate comic strips and editorial features marketed through United Feature Syndicate and Newspaper Enterprise Association.

New Bella Sara Products to Debut

Last week, Hidden City Entertainment’s Bella Sara announced a licensing partnership with Berkshire Fashions, Inc. to design and produce a variety of accessories. The new line will include Bella Sara-branded headwear, cold-weather accessories, hats, scarves, hosiery, slipper socks, rain gear, and packaged panties. The products will feature an array of designs complete with fans’ favorite horses.
In addition, Bella Sara recently launched a sleepwear line with licensee Bees and Jam, LLC, and a toy line with JAKKS Pacific.

When Will 007 Return?

According to Reuters, the next James Bond movie, which was due for release sometime in the next two years, has been delayed “indefinitely,” due to the auction of movie studio MGM. The movie was to be the 23rd installment in the Bond franchise.

Last year, the studio began considering a potential sale of itself. So far, however, a $1.5 billion bid from Time Warner, Inc. was not accepted, and sources say that the studio initially hoped to receive closer to $2 billion.

“Due to the continuing uncertainly surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development on BOND 23 indefinitely,” said James Bond Producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli in a statement.

See the related Reuters article here.

Below, check out the trailer to my favorite Bond movie, Die Another Day:

–Jennifer Sinclair

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