Miyazaki Takes The Annies

Despite the looming specter of the space shuttle disaster, the 30th Annual Annie Awards went off without a hitch Saturday evening at the Alex Theater in Glendale, Calif. Host Steve Marmel, a writer on The Fairly Odd Parents, managed to keep the event light and lively, introducing himself as “the Stallion of the Cimarron” and making comic fodder of the last name of ASIFA-Hollywood president Antran Manoogian.

The top honors in the Animated Theatrical Feature category went to Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, which was up against Ice Age, Lilo & Stitch, Monsters, Inc. and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Miyazaki won both the writing and directing awards and Joe Hisaishi’s score for Spirited Away also proved a winner.

DreamWorks topper Jeffery Katzenberg was in attendance to see Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron trample the competition in storyboarding, effects animation and character design.

Legendary stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen and Screen Novelties picked up the award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Short Subject for The Tortoise and the Hare. Collaborators Seamus Walsh and Mark Caballero accepted the award for Harryhausen, who makes his home in London. The Aesop fable, 50 years in the making, beat out Cartoon Network’s Night of the Living Doo and Cartoon Network Studios’ The Groovenians.

Gracie Films and 20th Century Fox Television’s The Simpsons took Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Production. The also rans were Disney’s Kim Possible, The Flinstones On The Rocks (Cartoon Network Studio), Futurama (Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television) and Invader Zim (Nickelodeon). Simpsons creator Matt Groening accepeted the award, noting “As the creator of The Simpsons, I’m very proud. As the creator of Futurama, I’m very pissed.”

Beating out Disney’s Kim Possible, The Proud Family (Jambalaya Studios), Rocket Power (Klasky Csupo) and Stanley (Cartoon Pizza, Inc.) for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Production Produced for Children was Rolie Polie Olie, a Nelvana Limited/Sparkling co-production. The property also captured Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Home Video Production for Rolie Polie Olie: The Great Defender of Fun.

If they gave out an award for best acceptance speech, it would have surely gone to Rich Moore, who received the Annie for Directing in an Animated Television Production for the Futurama episode “Roswell That Ends Well.” Moore had his speech storyboarded out and pitched it to the audience, pausing to say “Let me get through this and then you can give me your notes, Mr. Katzenberg.”

Among the presenters were Roy E. Disney, a kilted John Ratzenburger Cheers, Toy Story, Toy Story 2) and Daveigh Chase, who voices the young heroines of both Lilo & Stitch and Spirited Away. Chase received the voice acting award for her work as Lilo.

To see the complete list of winners, visit www.annieawards.org/anniesrecip.html.