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Don't judge an ogre by its cover

In Person

UIP

Shrek producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, left, and director Andrew Adamson flank Japanese voice cast members Masatoshi Hamada and Norika Fujiwara in Tokyo.

 With its positive message, Shrek is just the movie for these troubled times, the animated feature's makers Jeffrey Katzenberg and Andrew Adamson tell Chris Betros.

 

If you judge people by what they look like, you're probably missing out on an opportunity to make a good friend. That's only one of the pearls of wisdom to be found in Shrek, the animated movie that has been a worldwide hit thanks to its irreverent comedy and computer animation wizardry. Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson and produced by Dreamworks studio co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, Shrek is not your classic fairy tale. For one thing, the hero is an ugly, ill-tempered ogre and the damsel in distress is not all she appears to be. Supplying the voices are Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow.

"We basically took every fairy tale in the book and turned them inside out," said Adamson, who along with Katzenberg brought Shrek to Japan as the opening feature at last month's Tokyo International Film Festival. "It is a universal movie, multigenerational and multicultural. Its underlying message is that you have to accept yourself and others. We have all felt isolated at times because there are so many expectations about how we should live. The characters in Shrek are both appealing and unappealing, but most of us can identify with them."

Since the Sept 11 terror attacks in the United States, Hollywood has been doing a lot of soul-searching about what direction it should go in. Katzenberg has no doubts that movies like Shrek are the way to go.

"This is a time for all of us to escape into a story and have some laughs. Shrek not only helps us do that, but beneath its subversiveness it has a powerful message of respect and tolerance," he said. "Movies are a very powerful thing. When they are at their best, they can inspire and enlighten billions of people. Tom Hanks said it best at the telethon for the victims of the terror attacks. He said we are not heroes but simply entertainers who can lift spirits."

 "With today's digital tools, if we can dream it, we can make it."

And speaking of spirits, Katzenberg had nothing but praise for the smash Japanese animated hit by Hayao Miyazaki, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (“Spirited Away”). It recently beat the all-time box office record in Japan held by Titanic. "Japanese animation is the envy of the world. What I like about it is that it is so much a part of the mainstream of movie-going here," said Katzenberg. "There is so much talent in Japan. Some of them already work with us in California, but I want to do a lot more collaborating."

Katzenberg has had a love affair ever since he was a child. After working with Walt Disney, whose lifelong philosophy was to make movies for the child inside everyone, Katzenberg left to form Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Animation is their specialty and they spare no expense to use state-of-the-art technology.

"Animated movies are far more complex now," said Katzenberg. "Kids were less sophisticated in Walt's heyday 60 years ago. Today they know a lot more and are much more information-oriented."

The special effects in Shrek are certainly astounding. Using special tools called "shapers," animators have achieved sophisticated facial and body movements; clothing also moves, wrinkles and reacts to light like real-life fabrics. Adamson said it was a joy to be able to work with such technology. "With today's digital tools, if we can dream it, we can make it."

Adds Katzenberg: "There is absolutely no question that Shrek is far and above anything that's been done in computer animation... for at least ten seconds. Yes, it's state of the art, but I don't think it will be the benchmark for very long. Maybe a day or two."

For the Japanese version of Shrek, Katzenberg and his team have done something very unusual—they have personally handpicked the Japanese voice cast. Popular TV star and ad campaign girl Norika Fujiwara takes the Cameron Diaz part, while Masatoshi Hamada has the Mike Myers role.

"We looked at many different Japanese talents," said Katzenberg, "and we liked what they did. Norika and Masatoshi really did a great job. They didn't just read the dialogue. You can tell they have actually made the characters their own."

 

 




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IN PERSON:
539: Sea worthy
Deep Blue director Andy Byatt breaks the surface after five years of filming the ocean. Carlo Niederberger reports.
538: The public eye
Switch on a TV “wide show” and there’s a good chance you’ll see Dave Spector commenting on the news or debating panelists. Chris Betros meets the TV junkie.
537: Casting a spell
Fans in Japan can't get enough of Harry Potter, whether it's movies, books, merchandise or the stars themselves. Chris Betros catches some of the Hogwarts gang in Tokyo.
536: Page turner
Longtime Tokyo entrepreneur Rick Roa has enough stories to fill a dozen lifetimes, as his biographer found out. Chris Betros hears some of the juicy ones.
535: Glitter twins
Will Matthew Bourne's latest reinterpretation of a classic strike a chord in Japan? Lead dancers Scott Ambler and Richard Windsor tell Dan Grunebaum about Play Without Words.
534: Character study
Puerto Rican star and Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro turns in another intense performance in 21 Grams. Chris Betros reports.
533: The big freeze
Roland Emmerich and his team are chilling audiences with their ice age disaster film The Day After Tomorrow. Chris Betros joins them out of the cold.
532: Hitting a Homer
At 40, Brad Pitt looks to be in pretty good shape after a tough shoot and even tougher publicity schedule for Troy. Chris Betros reports.
531: Trade deficit
A new book by Robert Whiting looks at Japan’s latest quality export to America: Ichiro and the boys. Rob Smaal catches up with the author.
530: Hey Jude
British actor Jude Law is very low-key about his sex-symbol status in Japan. Chris Betros gets a close-up look.
529: Field goals
After three years as a San Francisco 49ers cheerleader, Ai Yasuda tells Sachie Kanda the lessons she learned from the Gold Rush.
528: Voice of reason
Whether he’s on InterFM or co-hosting the Japanese version of 60 Minutes, veteran Japan resident Peter Barakan brings a mature view to the masses. Chris Betros listens in.
527: Rock enroll
Comedian-rocker Jack Black is in fine form during a jaunt to promote School of Rock. Chris Betros listens in.
526: Spoils of war
Director Anthony Minghella and Oscar-winner Renée Zellweger revisit the Civil War in Cold Mountain. Chris Betros takes note.
525: Second acts
Dewi Sukarno wears many hats-social critic, TV personality and charity fundraiser. Chris Betros visits the former first lady of Indonesia.
524: State of Grace
TV variety show presenter Hiroko Grace thrives in the hustle and bustle of New York. Chris Betros finds out what she’s been up to.
523: Manga mania
TokyoPop founder Stuart Levy has struck gold as the leading publisher of Japanese manga in the US. Chris Betros finds out what’s behind the boom.
522: Queen of hearts
Newly crowned Miss Nippon Yuriko Saga is ready to seize the day. Carlo Niederberger meets the new belle of the ball.
521: Remember when
A beefed-up Ben Affleck says he wants to keep all his memories-unlike his character in John Woo's thriller Paycheck. Chris Betros finds out why.
519: Bilingual beat
Red carpets at the Grammys, TV interviews and radio work keep Yuka Komaki pretty busy. Chris Betros catches up with the globetrotting personality.
518: Full speed ahead
Australian director Peter Weir takes us back in time on an epic voyage in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Chris Betros books his passage.
517: American dream
Switch-hitting shortstop Kazuo Matsui is set make a splash as the first Japanese infielder to play in the Major Leagues. Rob Smaal reports on his big move.
516: Hail the hobbits
Accolades and awards are making it hard for Peter Jackson and his cast to adjust to life after Lord of the Rings, reports Chris Betros.
515: In the name of love
Only 20, British actress Keira Knightley is already building an impressive body of work, the latest being the romantic comedy Love Actually. Chris Betros reports.
514: Horsing around
Tobey Maguire swaps his Spider-Man costume for a jockey's kit in the acclaimed Depression-era drama Seabiscuit. Chris Betros reports.
513: Free bird
Actress-model Anna Umemiya juggles single parenthood, work and the tabloids. Chris Betros asks how she does it.
512: Girl next door
Fame hasn't gone to Holly Valance's head, Chris Betros finds after meeting the former Neighbours star and now Australian singing sensation.
511: Emotional baggage
Fumiko Ishioka uses an old suitcase from a young Auschwitz victim to teach Japan's children about the Holocaust. Chris Betros hears more.
508: All that jazz
Filipino singer Charito is still winning fans after 20 years on the Tokyo jazz scene. Chris Betros checks out her style.
507: Lord of the rings
Hollywood can't get enough Japanese horror movies to remake. Producer Takashige Ichise loves it, Chris Betros learns.
506: Men of honor
Tom Cruise and Edward Zwick say we can all learn from the samurai code of ethics. Chris Betros dusts off his armor for a few lessons.
505: A lofty goal
Ken Ohtaka swapped a top job at a securities company for mountain climbing to raise money for charity. Chris Betros finds out why.
504: Gallo's humor
Vincent Gallo comes out swinging in defense of his controversial movie The Brown Bunny. Chris Betros dodges a few punches.
503: Making J-Waves
Radio navigator, TV host, event MC and jewelry designer Chris Peppler has a lot on his plate. Chris Betros finds out how he manages it all.
502: Glitter Ball
501: Crossing swords
Quentin Tarantino pays homage to Japan, strong women and anime with buckets of blood in Kill Bill. Chris Betros lives to tell the tale.
500: Share the wealth
To commemorate our 500th issue, Metropolis is asking Halloween partygoers to donate ¥500 to help two local children's charities. Chris Betros digs deep.
499: In full bloom
Okinawan-American singer DAHLIA hits the big time, thanks to Japanese rock icon Yoshiki and Expo 2005. Chris Betros meets the young talent.
498: Just for laughs
The Sushi Brothers have a joke for every occasion. Chris Betros meets the wacky pair.
497: Nobel mind
At 79, former US President Jimmy Carter is a busy man championing human rights, world peace and public health, as Carlo Niederberger observes.
496: Broad strokes
Live performances and self-promotion are all part of being a painter in today's world, artist Ponzi tells Krista Wilson.
495: Action figure
Angelina Jolie is busy these days, kicking butt as Lara Croft and standing up for refugee children around the world as a UN representative. Chris Betros hears more.
494: Show and tell
Yuka Nukina brings the world to Japan on NHK's Weekend Japanology program. Chris Betros tunes in.
493: Pasona non grata
Business maverick Yasuyuki Nambu's vision of a radically new Japanese society doesn't endear him to bureaucrats, but Chris Betros is impressed.
492: Rain man
Author Barry Eisler takes to the mean streets of Tokyo with his second book featuring Japanese-American assassin John Rain. Chris Betros digs deeper.
491: Golden boy
Kosuke Kitajima is the latest athlete to captivate Japan after smashing two world records at the world swimming championships. Fred Varcoe hears about his new life.
490: Murder, she wrote
Award-winning mystery author Natsuo Kirino proves herself a master of the macabre in Out, her first novel to be translated into English. Chris Betros reads between the lines.
489: Life or death
Acclaimed British director Alan Parker's latest film delves into the moral debate surrounding the death penalty. Chris Betros listens in.
488: Work of art
Salma Hayek spent eight years bringing her passion for Mexican artist Frida Kahlo to the big screen. Chris Betros hears the story.
487: A charmed life
Actress Uno Kanda's ultimate goal is to end up being a cute grandma. Chris Betros asks how she intends to do it.
486: He's back
The Terminator returns after a 12-year hiatus as its star Arnold Schwarzenegger ponders a career shift. Chris Betros reports.
485: Prime time
Thirty-something Tomoko Ogawa has found fame and career fulfillment behind the TBS news desk. Chris Betros pays the anchorwoman a visit.
484: Screen test
Project Greenlight gives aspiring film directors a million bucks and a chance to be the next Martin Scorsese. Chris Betros meets its first winner, Pete Jones.
483: Angel eyes
Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore thrill the faithful during their visit to promote Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Chris Betros joined the masses.
482: No holds barred
Top female pro wrestler Chigusa Nagayo has a growing legion of fans. Sachie Kanda finds out why.
481: Top of the hill
While heading up designer Terence Conran's Roppongi Hills projects, architect Richard Doone took time to get lost in Tokyo. Steve Trautlein reports.
480: Inside the Matrix
Six months of Matrix fever begins this weekend with The Matrix Reloaded. Chris Betros hears what the stars have to say about it.
479: Universal themes
The Miss Universe final is just the beginning for Miyako Miyazaki, who wants the world to see the beauty of Japanese culture. Chris Betros hears more.
478: On the ball
Japan’s national soccer head coach, Zico, has big plans for the team. Fred Varcoe finds out what’s on his mind.
477: That's a rap
Director Curtis Hanson gets a surprisingly good performance out of controversial hip-hop superstar Eminem in 8 Mile. Chris Betros finds out how he did it.
476: Say the magic word

Popular magician Dave Letendre has a trick for every occasion, Chris Betros observes.
475: Bully boy
Bad boy Brad Renfro takes on another tormented youth role in Larry Clark’s no-holds barred drama Bully. Chris Betros tries to figure him out.
474: Inventive mind
From the weird to the wonderful, Dr NakaMats has an invention for every occasion. Chris Betros meets the genius.
473: The king of rock ‘n’ role
Montreal entertainer Martin Fontaine brings The Elvis Story to Japan this month. Sachie Kanda meets the star of the high-energy musical.
472: Inside out
Akiko Shimizu is on a mission: to give Japanese women the skills to make the right choices in their lives. Chris Betros gets a few tips, too.
471: Dramatic intrigue
International star of stage and screen Mozaffar Shafeie gives Stephen Cotterill the lowdown on Tokyo’s theater scene.
470: Guru of gore
Bizarre movie director David Cronenberg is the most normal person he knows. You wouldn’t think so from his films, though, Chris Betros observes.
469: Female bonding
Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike leave 007 shaken and stirred in Lee Tamahori’s Die Another Day. Chris Betros hears more.
468: Baby boom
Pint-sized BRAT has Japan’s pop culture in his sights. Chris Betros talks to his creator, British illustrator John Shelley.
467: Good Lord
Actor Viggo Mortensen dismisses comparisons between Lord of the Rings and the fight against terrorism. Chris Betros lends an ear.
466: Just for thrills
Edward Norton adds Red Dragon to his impressive list of credits. Chris Betros reports.
465: As a Matt of fact
Matt Damon is happy to take on any role, even a sumo wrestler, if the project is right.
464: First bass
Producer and bassist Bill Laswell hits the top without even trying, he tells Tom Bojko.
463: White lies
Aboriginal author Doris Pilkington and filmmaker Phillip Noyce lift the lid on Australia’s “Stolen Generation.” Chris Betros reports.
462: Pottering about
Daniel Radcliffe is enjoying life in the spotlight as Harry Potter works his magic at the box office. Chris Betros reports.
461: In Gere
Richard Gere speaks about getting old, being cool, infidelity and being an activist. Chris Betros takes it all in.
460: Freedom of the press
Maverick newspaper publisher Kiyoharu Nakayama is taking on the big boys with his free newspaper Tokyo Headline. Sachie Kanda reports.
457/458: A farewell to arms
Kathryn Bigelow and Harrison Ford lift the veil on a dramatic Soviet sub disaster in K-19: The Widowmaker. Chris Betros goes below.
456: Leaders of the pack
It was mass adulation as Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese brought Gangs of New York to Japan for the world premiere
454: Future tense
Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise warn about tomorrow's grim possibilities in their mystery Minority Report
453: Keeping the Faith
Family is the driving force in country singer Faith Hill's life whether she's making CDs or soundtracks
451: Watts the matter
Success has been a long time coming for The Ring star Naomi Watts, but it's all part of a learning experience
450: Class action
Batman and 007 are out, Triple X is in, celluloid superhero Vin Diesel says
449: On the rise
A newly restructured Tower Records is setting the pace in Japan's retail music industry
448: Tomorrow the universe
Justine Pasek knows being Miss Universe will be tough, but having faith and a sense of humor can go a long way
447: Cyber sisterhood
Entrepreneur Kaori Sasaki is spreading the message online that Japan's male-dominated corporate world is under threat from an army of capable women
446: Hot rod heart
The Japan Grand Prix is somewhat of a homecoming for 2001 British Formula 3 Champion Takuma Sato
445: Raking it in
Hugh Grant is in peak form, basically playing himself as the stylish layabout in About a Boy
444: Funny business
Japan is a joke to comedian Simon Bligh, who returns to perform with the Punchline Comedy Club
443: Cartoon Channel
An expert editor and diehard manga fan, Coamix head honcho Nobuhiko Horie is going global with his Raijin Comics series
442: Killa' Milla
Milla Jovovich squeezes in a chat with Nicholas Coldicott about tough schedules, superficiality and flesh-eating zombies
441: The show must go on
Japanese entertainers help to bring Broadway back to life with a charity gala concert.
440: Hip hop pop
Japan's original turntablist tells Dan Grunebaum how music saved his life
439: The long road home
After tasting Hollywood success, Y Tu Mama Tambien director Alfonso Cuaron fled LA for his native Mexico's "holy ground."
438: In the spirit
New Age music virtuoso Kitaro takes to the stage for his Silk Road tour
437: The Tomei express
Marisa Tomei's career is in full flight, Chris Betros observes, as the perky actress alternates between the theater and cinema, her latest effort being In the Bedroom
436: Wells spoken
More than 100 years after HG Wells wrote "The Time Machine," his great-grandson Simon directs the latest movie version
435: Stepping lively
Reva Rice and Kenya Osumi promise plenty of eroticism in the newest version of the hit Broadway musical Fosse
434: Full plate
Tokyo architect Benjamin Warner is about to add another successful design to his portfolio with a chain of delicatessens
433: Brunch break
TV personality Tamao Sato's goal in life is to make people happy
432: Heart beat
Justin Gardiner speaks with the versatile percussionist who took center stage at the World Cup closing ceremony
431: Hard to heart
Former sumo wrestler Konishiki is in great demand these days, but his heart lies in his many charitable endeavors
430: Calling the tunes
Shocking peers, maverick sensei Makoto Nishimura invites foreigners into the cloistered world of the shamisen
429: What women want
Fantasy film Kate & Leopold's Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman debate the art of seduction
428: The write stuff
Shodo meets suspense in Todd Shimoda's new novel, "The Fourth Treasure."
427: Will and testament
Will Smith takes on his biggest challenge yet in Michael Mann's biopic Ali
426: Foster care
Now a mother of two, Jodie Foster re-emerges in Panic Room, which deals with the issue closest to her heart—family
425: Pop rocks
Britney Spears is big business, but the 20-year-old pop singer sees it all as just good fun
424: No shortcuts for Morgan Freeman
Fame was a long time coming for Morgan Freeman, who gives thanks to providence and friends
423: Universal values
Mina Chiba is equally at home on the stage as Miss Universe Japan as she is on a car racing circuit
422: Tsuzuki style
Kyoichi Tsuzuki, writer, editor and maverick designer, is Japan's great chronicler of the strange and exotic
421: Arnie, get your gun
Action star Arnold Schwarzenegger explains why the Sept 11 terror attacks won't change a thing in Hollywood
420: Plenty to Crowe about
Despite missing out on the Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe is still very much in the spotlight
419: Piano man
George Winston has made a career playing instrumental music inspired by the American West
418: War plane
Heroes often emerge out of the blood and guts of chaos, say filmmaker Ridley Scott and his crew of Black Hawk Down
416: The sexplorers
Killing Me Softly director Chen Kiage and star Heather Graham talk titillation
415: Don't call us retro
Stereolab take tunes back to the future
414: Running "Rings" around the rest
The cast and crew of Lord of the Rings talk Oscar and samurai elves
412: Lynch pin
Composer Angelo Badalamenti on Mulholland Drive and working with its famed director
411: Duality
Architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham on the beauty of building in Tokyo
410: American Woman
Natalie Merchant on her life and music
409: There's nothing like a dame
Veterans Julie Andrews and Gary Marshall team up for the Princess Diaries
408: Caiya Kawasaki
has built her image on berating Japanese men, but it's all for a reason
407: The Skys the Limit
Vanilla Sky's Cruise, Cruz & Crowe on casual sex
406: The art of elegance
Veteran designer Takeo Nishida
404: Don't judge an ogre by its cover
Shrek producer Jeffrey Katzenberg
402: Teen angst
Crime and Punishment in suburbia director Rob Schmidt
401: Life's a party

Alan Cumming
400: In the Nic of time

Nicole Kidman high-kicks in Moulin Rouge
399:Memories

Memento's director Christopher Nolan
398:Positivity

American alt rockers 311 take a special interest in Japan
397:Evolution of an ex-Filer

David Duchovny explains why he went from the X-Files to Evolution
396: Rock Warrior

Former Clash frontman Joe Strummer
395: 2001's absurd odyssey

The Coen brothers pay tribute to classic American cinema
394: Jolie good time
Angelina Jolie kicks plenty of butt in Tomb Raider
393: Keeping up with the Jones
392: Ratner a man in a rush
Director Brett Ratner can't wait to film Rush Hour 3 in Tokyo
391: Far from the Madden crowd
Captain Corelli's Mandolin is more than a World War II love story ...
390: Wake-up call
NHK morning news anchor Toko Takeuchi is an early bird with a passion ...
389: Gallo's humor
Artist, filmmaker, actor, model, Vincent Gallo
388: Reaching for the universe
Misao Arauchi
387: Speak softly and carry a big kick
Actor Steven Seagal
386: Paper boy
Italian mime Ennio Marchetto
385: A sight for saur eyes
Jurassic Park III's Sam Neill
384: The planet that went ape
Visionary filmmaker Tim Burton
383: Digital Godfather
The father of ambient music, Brian Eno
382: Mission possible
TV personality Mari Christine
381: Bombs away
Long-awaited Pearl Harbor comes to Japan
380: Not so close encounter
Director Steven Spielberg
379: Sexy poets
Samantha Lang, director of The Monkey's Mask
378: Hogan's hero
Crocodile Dundee - Paul Hogan
377: Sumo do
British actress Charlotte Brittain
376: Mummy dearest
The Mummy Returns' Brendan Fraser
375: Animal magic
Independent movie auteur, Michael Di Jiacomo
374: Brief encounters
American Short Shorts Film Festival organizer, Tetsuya Besho
373: Porn free
Doug Wright, screenwriter of Quills
372: Virgin for life
Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group
371: Don't call me babe
Bombshell Charlize Theron
370: Killer personality
American Psycho's Christian Bale
369: Sweet inspiration
French actress Juliette Binoche
368: Playing chicken
Nick Park and Peter Lord, the creators of Chicken Run
367: The bite stuff
"Tony" Hopkins in a PR stupor
366: Get focked
Meet the Parents' Ben Stiller
365: Age of Innocence
"Auteur" filmmaker Paul Cox
364: As the Crowe flies
Meg Ryan promotes her new movie
363: The hard cell
The down-low on J. Lo
362: Boy in the hood
Actor Masaya Kato
361: Bouncing back
Hollywood's queen of cool, Gwyneth Paltrow
359: Play that funky music
Catch up with Verbal from Japan's hip-hop group m-flo
358: A heartbreak hotel
Hotel Splendide director Terence Gross
357: Billy Elliot
Star Jamie Bell
354: In a tranquil mood
New age musician, Kitaro
351: Bah Humbug
Jim Carrey as The Grinch

ISSUES 349-
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