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Muppets Wizard of Oz: Hey — No William Stout Credit!!

Good News & Bad News…First, the Bad News:
My colleague Rick Delgado informed me that this Friday’s broadcast of “The Muppets Wizard of Oz” on ABC will not carry the Conceptual Designer credit for which I was contracted — despite the fact that it was my presentation paintings that got the financing for the film…and despite the fact that my art has been used on the Jim Henson Studios website for the past several months to promote the film!

Not only that, my credit won’t appear on the first pressing of the DVD, either!

So, what happened?

They said they simply forgot. And also that they changed legal counsel midway through the film and my credit sort of “fell through the cracks”.

I received a round of personal apologies from Christine Belson (initial project developer), Martin Baker (producer) and Kirk Thatcher (director) as well as conveyed apologies from Lisa and Brian Henson. The Hensons also promised that they would pay Disney to have my name added to the second pressing of the DVD (should there be one). I’m talking to my attorney…

I still look forward to seeing the movie, though.

Oh, yeah — the Good News:
My Oz opening at Every Picture Tells A Story went extremely well; there was a good turnout and a beautiful display of my original art from many of the Wizard of Oz projects (including “The Muppets Wizard of Oz”) with which I’ve been associated. It will be up for about another week and a half (call first before coming over to the gallery).

Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on my San Diego Natural History Museum murals and the illustrations for the “Trouble Under Oz” book. More later!

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Princess of Mars Retraction — Sorry, Mike!

Yikes! I’ve made only a handful of blog entries and I’ve already got to make my first news retraction!

ATTENTION: As much as we all would love to see him on board such a production, Michael Kaluta is NOT working on the film version of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “A Princess of Mars”. Bernie Wrightson still is — but not Michael. Mike worked about as long as I did on the show.

Michael may still be hired if the “…Princess…” project jumps its next batch of hurdles and gets its final green light from Paramount (to mix a few metaphors). Let’s all wish him luck!

If you want to see some great artwork be sure to visit the Official Michael Wm Kaluta Website:

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Lilly’s Light, Part Two

Here is a list of the cast and crew involved in “Lilly’s Light”, the children’s television show whose pilot I designed:
Sherry Hursey – Lilly
Hal B. Klein – Al Patchitt
Gregg Martin (Gregg’s also my screenwriting partner) – Professor Crabble
(Gregg says he patterned his character after me!)
Mindy Sterling – Peaches
Philece Sampler – Devarella
Jean-Luc Martin – Will Patchitt
Lizzi Jones – Ashley
Russell Lyons – Maxwell
Brianne Tju – Katie Lynn
Leroy White – Fisherman Fitz
Vitor Philipe (watch this talented actor go right to the top; I predict Vitor is going to be a huge teen heartthrob as well) – Daniel

Director – Daniel Carrey
Directors of Photography – Steven Douglas Smith, Jack Conroy
Production Designer – William Stout (who?)
Costume Designer – Sunny Chayes
Key Make up & Hair – Elizabeth Dahl
Set Decorator – Stefanie Girard
Property Master – Alixia Bermak
Set Construction Coordinator – Jerry McConnell
Set Construction Supervisor – Kevin Myers
Scenic Artists – Daniel C. Nyiri, Robert Brigham
Special Effects – Taffy Cyclone
Sound Mixer – Chris Leplus
Casting Directors – Philece Sampler, Karen E. Prisant (Associate)

Art Klein, Sherry Hursey, Georgia Simon, Philece Sampler, Fred Kennamer, Melissa Wohl.

My Production Designer’s cap is off in salute to these great people and their hard working crews for the outstanding work they all did on the show!

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Lilly’s Light

Yesterday I visited a set to watch the shooting of the pilot for a new children’s television show, “Lilly’s Light”. I designed the sets for the show but because of my intense travel schedule recently I was not able to oversee their construction. I’m usually a pretty hands-on kinda guy when it comes to production design and a real stickler for details in all aspects of the design (including set decoration, costumes, props, etc.). None of my regular people were hired to execute my designs, so even though the designs I gave them to work from were highly detailed color renderings, I approached viewing my sets for the first time with great apprehension.

Much to my relief everything looks SPECTACULAR! Everyone has done an incredible job, from construction to painters to props to costumes; it’s as if they were channeling exactly what I had in mind! The minor changes to the design necessitated by the practical nature of the shooting were made exactly the way I would have made them. All of the color choices work beautifiully together. Amazing!

The star of the show (and I believe the major reason why this whole show has come together as stunningly as it has) is Sherry Hursey (Sherry plays Lilly; she was a regular on “Home Improvement”). Besides being one of the most talented people I have ever met (man, can she sing!), Sherry also is the possessor of one of the biggest hearts and kindest souls I’ve ever encountered.

Director Daniel Carrey is one of the most prepared directors I’ve ever worked with; he shot nine pages (that’s a lot) yesterday! His positive attitude, efficiency and enthusiasm really help drive this production in the best way possible.

I’m going back to visit the set today and take some pictures. I’ll get you blog readers more details on the show, too. Plus — Attention, Ladies! — today my screenwriting partner, that debonair Englishman and Royal Shakespearean actor Gregg Martin, is a character on the show.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night; I was so excited about what I had seen that I had a hard time getting back to sleep. It felt like Christmas!

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Two Recent Movies on DVD

I watched two DVDs recently that I think are worth mentioning.

As you know I love horror movies, so I was delighted to come across a really creepy one: “The Grudge”. Great mood, good cast (although I kept hoping that Buffy…er…Sarah Michelle Gellar would kick some scary ghost butt). Watch it it late at night with the lights out!

The other one I had already heard good stuff about: “Metallica – Some Kind of a Monster”. It’s a documentary about the making of Metallica’s latest CD, “St. Anger”. It is also about the disintegration of the band and its triumph over such adversity. It’s very funny, very Spinal Tap — except it’s real! Kudos to the guys in the band for not being afraid to look so foolish at times. I really ended up admiring their deep dedication to pushing themselves to produce the absolute best quality art that they possibly could (my own philosophy, too). It can be painful, but the end product is worth it.

Kirk Hammett (who comes off as the most level-headed of the group) has got a great collection at home. We briefly get to see his fine Mark Ryden painting, his mounted cave bear skeleton (Kirk: Did you pick that up in Tucson?) and his diverse collection of hominid skulls. Go Kirk! I noticed you don’t have any Stout paintings, though…

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DRAGONS – A Fantasy Made Real

DRAGONS – A Fantasy Made Real became the Animal Planet’s most-watched show in the history of the channel last Sunday. I am happy to have provided the poster that promoted that show.

I caught the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction show on VH-1 the other night. Bruce Springsteen’s introduction of U2 was touching, funny and poignant; Bono’s acceptance speech was very moving as well. U2 played a short but great set, too. What a band!

I just picked Petra Haden’s amazing completely acappella(!) version of my favorite Who album, “The Who Sell Out”. Wonderful! I understand that Pete Townshend agrees.

Back to my murals…

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The Muppets Wizard of Oz – A Sneak Preview

If you’d like a glimpse of a couple of the sets I designed for the forthcoming film The Muppets Wizard of Oz, then go to:

Click on anything that looks Ozzy. So far I’ve seen the Haunted Forest and a piece of the Munchkin Village on the site.

The Muppets Wizard of Oz was way fun to work on as we Valley Dudes are wont to say. It’s got a great, edgy, irreverent script. The picture was helmed by a guy who totally GETS IT — Kirk Thatcher. Kirk and I grew up with all the same cultural references and are both fans of a wide range of turn-of-the-century art, so we had a real communicative shorthand. When he’d say “a little less Guimard, slightly more Horta,” (those are references to two Art Nouveau architects) I’d know exactly what he meant without having to ask for further explanation. Working with a director like that is a dream job come true.

One of the interesting challenges for me that made this project different from my design work for other live action feature films was that I had to design sets that included objects and structures for the Muppets’ puppeteers to hide behind.

Kirk and I both lobbied heavily for this to be a theatrical feature but that didn’t happen, so The Muppets Wizard of Oz should be available for viewing on your home screen this coming May.

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SECRETS REVEALED! William Stout’s Rackham/Dulac Technique

Some of my most popular pictures are in what I call my Rackham/Dulac style (after two turn-of-the-century children’s illustrators who used this technique extensively, Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac). It dates back a hundred years or so but it’s pretty easy to do. Here’s how:
1) Pencil your picture.
2) Ink your picture with a Hunt crowquill pen, using a 50/50 mixture of waterproof black (India) and sepia inks. That will make your black a nice warm black.
3) After the ink is dry, erase the pencil lines.
4) Mask off your image using white art tape.
5) On your palette, prepare a little pool of raw umber watercolor.
6) Quickly soak the image using a very wet fine-grained sea sponge (or “art sponge”), then wring out the sponge.
7) Using a wide (about three quarters of an inch) Aquarelle watercolor brush, cover your image with the raw umber watercolor.
8) Using the wringed-out sponge, dab and blot up the raw umber watercolor in the areas of your picture that you want to remain light. You may have to wring out your little sponge several times during this process. Work quickly (and near a sink) before the watercolor dries. This will give your image an antique parchment look. You can also add a little raw umber with a smaller brush (not too small) to the areas you want to be darker.
9) While the picture is still wet you can add and perform any wet-on-wet techniques you care to (I usually do this in the sky areas, adding various colored tints).
10) Let the picture dry a little bit, then start adding layers of transparent watercolor to your piece, slowly building up the color to what you want it to finally be.
11) After your picture has dried, use an eraser if necessary to lighten some of your watercolor.
12) When dry, you’ll notice that sometimes your watercolor has greyed-out some of your black pen lines. Mix up a batch of colored ink (never dyes) appropriate to your color scheme with a lot of water to get a nice PALE transparent wash. Brush this over your picture. It will do two things: It should unite your color scheme and it should also bring back the intensity of most of your pen lines.
13) Sometimes adding a touch of Prismacolor pencils is called for to bring out some highlights (I use the Cream and Sand colors a lot for this), darken some shadows or add some complementary “color sparks” to your picture.
14) Carefully remove the white tape.
15) Retouch with white goauche any unsightly color bleeds if necessary. If you need to pop in any white highlights on your piece, now’s the time.
16) When completely dry, spray the piece with Krylon Crystal Clear acrylic coating. Don’t breathe that stuff — you’ll end up with plastic lungs!

As a result of all this work, you should have a brand new ancient-looking masterpiece!

Good Luck!

William Stout