Down on the farm, the farmer thinks he's in charge, keeping all the animals safe and sound. But when the farmer is out of sight, the lookout sheep shouts Clear

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Down on the farm, the farmer thinks he's in charge, keeping all the animals safe and sound. But when the farmer is out of sight, the lookout sheep shouts "Clear!" and all of the barnyard animals spring up on two legs, walk, talk, watch TV, and orchestrate outrageous practical jokes.

For Otis the cow, that last one is the most important. He and his best friends - Pip the mouse, Freddy the ferret, Peck the rooster, and Pig the pig - are world-class pranksters and always in the mood for a laugh. Otis is in a state of arrested development and quite happy that way.

Otis's dad, Ben, is the cow who makes sure the farm is running on all cylinders. Each morning, Ben leads a meeting to take care of farm business and to issue warnings about their common enemy, the coyotes. (It's a position that Ben takes seriously: "As long as I'm still kickin'," he says, "no animal will be harmed inside that fence!") Ben wants Otis to grow up and take responsibility.

Much to Ben's chagrin, Otis's main project comes to life every evening. As soon as the Farmer hits lights out, the barn is transformed into Party Central. On this night, there's even a pretty new cow, Daisy - Otis hams it up for her, and she can't help but be attracted to his fun-loving personality.

That world is not for Ben. He's outside, guarding the fence and protecting the farm from the coyotes. When Otis explains to Ben that being on watch isn't "his thing." Ben responds: "Otis, a strong man stands up for himself, a stronger man stands up for others."

When Ben is no longer able to lead, Otis tries to keep order but the role of leader does not come as naturally for him. Without Ben to keep everyone in line, absolute mayhem breaks loose and it isn't long before the farmer begins to get to the bottom of the animals' secret... and the scheming coyotes begin to think that the farm could be theirs for the taking.

From Nickelodeon Movies and the mind of Steve Oedekerk, the writer/director/producer/actor behind such comic hits as "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls," "Bruce Almighty," "The Nutty Professor," and "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," comes an animated movie that confirms what many of us have believed all along - that animals have a secret life which they live every time humans turn their backs.

The film features an all-star cast of voice talent, including Kevin James ("King of Queens"), Courteney Cox ("Friends"), Sam Elliott ("Tombstone"), Danny Glover ("Lethal Weapon"), Wanda Sykes ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), and Andie MacDowell ("Four Weddings and a Funeral"), among many others.

More than two hundred artists and technicians laboured for nearly four years to produce "Barnyard" at Oedekerk's Omation Studios, a state-of-the-art facility in San Clemente, California. The result is a film that pushes the boundaries of computer-generated 3D animation to a new level - it is certain to be admired as much for its technical achievements as it is enjoyed by appreciative, laughing audiences.

Paramount Pictures presents in association with and Nickelodeon Movies an O Entertainment production, a Steve Oedekerk film, "Barnyard." Written and directed by Steve Oedekerk, the film is produced by Oedekerk and Paul Marshal. Julia Pistor and Aaron Parry are executive producers. Animation production by Omation Animation studios.

About the film

When Nickelodeon began looking for a follow up to its Academy Award-nominated CGI film "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," they only had to look at Steve Oedekerk's bulletin board, where Oedekerk had posted a line-up of characters from "Barnyard." "The characters were irreverent and fun, but would also be able to tell a powerful coming-of-age story dealing with real family dynamics and issues," said Nick Movies executive vice president Julia Pistor. "We knew it would be a perfect fit."

With a long history of championing creator-driven animation on both the big and small screen, Nickelodeon contracted Oedekerk's Omation Studios to facilitate production of the feature film, following the same successful production model it had done for both "Rugrats" movies, "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie," and "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius." This model would allow Nickelodeon to stay nimble and on the cutting edge of new CGI technology, while ensuring that the creators' original vision for the film would stay in tact. It has also proven to be an efficient business model for feature film animation production that other studios have come to emulate.

The idea for "Barnyard" was born nearly two decades ago, well before Steve Oedekerk had made his mark in show business. "I was at a friend's house and his dog was looking at me," he remembers. "And everywhere I went, it just kept looking at me. Since I am overtly visual I had this image of me leaving the room and the dog standing up on two legs and saying, ‘Man, it's about time that dude left.' And he strolls over to the cat and they go back to playing poker. It was just this funny little thought but it stuck with me. And it wasn't too long before I thought, ‘Boy, that could really make a cool movie.'"

Years passed and Oedekerk became one of the most successful screenwriters in Hollywood; he had even begun directing his own hit films. But his idea about this alternate universe of animals never left his imagination. And then, one day, he saw one of the characters he had been dreaming of. In an art gallery in Laguna Beach, California, Oedekerk spotted a comic, life-sized sculpture of a cow - standing on two legs. "It was full size," he says. "As big as me!" Oedekerk was a little stunned to see this image that had before existed only in his head and he bought it on the spot.

"Barnyard" is not Oedekerk's first foray into animation. He created and executive produced "Santa vs. The Snowman 3D," and produced and co-wrote the screenplay for "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," which was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Animated Feature. But "Barnyard" is the first animated film that he has directed himself. After having helmed several live-action films, the animated experience was both daunting and inspiring.

"Directing live-action, you are working with the actors, basically setting up for a moment," Oedekerk says. "From the time you shoot it that's it, you have it, and then you go back to edit this thing that happened in this one minute of time on film. In animation, you're building that minute for months, and in some cases years - the team of animators is working on the characters to the point of raising an eyebrow a little bit higher, nine months into the beginning of that shot. Directing an animated film is a combination of every exciting thing about creating every bit of minutia, and the horror of having to create every bit of minutia all rolled into one. If you like doing that kind of thing, it can drive you crazy as there are nearly endless creative opportunities - what do I want the trees to look like? What do I want the clouds to look like? It's cool because you can craft everything to support the scene, and to support the emotional moment that's going on."

Those emotional moments form the heart of the film. "Otis is a character who was taken in by Ben. At the end of the movie he ends up doing the same thing for a young calf. This story is very personal to me because my sister and I are adopted; there's an underlying theme about how great adoption is."

In a movie filled with outrageous humour and surreal sight gags, it is telling that Oedekerk's favourite scene is the warm moment when Ben and Otis, father and son, relax on a hillside and just chat. "Yeah," he admits, "I'm kind of a softie."

The writer/director/producer is also excited about the wide range of tones in the film. "It covers a pretty wide terrain of wacky funny to serious," Oedekerk says. "The bad guy's a pretty bad guy - an authentically scary dude. There's definitely an adult depth to our story. Beneath the partying animals is a very heartfelt, live action-style storyline, a simple story about a guy and his dad and the family around them, and whether he's going to step up and accept responsibility or be a goof-off his whole life. Come to think of it, that's very much like my life growing up."

About the characters

The lead role is Otis, the fun-loving "party cow" who spends all his time secretly indulging in all things human, from riding around in cars to watching TV to playing practical jokes on the farmer. Sure, he's rebellious and immature and has no sense of responsibility - who needs that when you can spend your life singing and dancing?

Oedekerk's first and only choice to play Otis was Kevin James. "I knew he was gonna be a movie star from when I first saw him on ‘The King of Queens,'" Oedekerk says. "What I love about Kevin is he has this Jackie Gleason sensibility - he's so funny when he's frustrated. Otis ends up dealing with a lot of things he doesn't want to deal with; his Dad's always trying to get him to do stuff he doesn't want to do. Getting the comedy to come from this frustration was essential and Kevin's great at that.

"I'm a huge Steve Oedekerk fan," says James. "He wrote a really funny script, just like he did with ‘Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls' and ‘Bruce Almighty.' I'd never done animation before, and it was something I wanted to try."

In addition to the outrageous comedy that is Oedekerk's trademark, James was also attracted to the heart and emotion in the role. "There are a ton of pranks in this movie - the cows all go crazy together and do whatever frat cows would do, but they also have to come together, accept responsibility in life, step up to the plate and be a man. Or cow. Whatever."

James went whole hog learning his role. "I'm a method cow," he says. "I'd graze for hours before a recording session."

For the role of Daisy, the sensible and caring cow who provides Otis with the inspiration and trust he needs to become the leader of the barnyard, Oedekerk cast his friend Courteney Cox, best known for her role on the mega-hit TV show "Friends." He says, "For the role of Daisy, I wanted an actress who the audience could fall in love with instantly. Courteney definitely has that quality. Daisy is the girl next door, very authentic and sweet, a good soul," says Oedekerk. "It can be challenging playing pure goodness. In order to give dimension, you have to go to a very vulnerable place. Courteney did an awesome job."

"Steve's a friend of mine - he's such a talented guy that I was really excited about doing this movie," says Cox. "For Steve, this is real life - he writes about the things that kids go through and witness. For him, it's not an imaginary world - it's real."

The actress says her role is "pure sugar - Daisy is so sweet. I'm kind of a sarcastic person, so it was interesting for me."

Wanda Sykes plays Daisy's best friend, Bessy, a cow with an acid tongue and no-nonsense ‘tude. "Bessy is all attitude," says Sykes. "She tells it like it is. Still, even though she's got a tough exterior, she's got a big heart. She's very protective of Daisy, keeping an eye on her and making sure she doesn't get mixed up with the wrong crowd."

"Wanda is a walking comedy machine," Oedekerk says. "If she has a funny line, she hits it out of the park. If the line ain't funny, Wanda's still coming off great. I just think she can pretty much do anything that she wants to do."

Veteran actor Sam Elliott plays Ben, the well-liked, respected, and organized leader of the barnyard... and also the loving but somewhat beleaguered father of Otis. Responsible where his son is juvenile, out on watch while the boy is partying, Ben loves his son deeply for who he is but wishes he'd learn to grow up a little.

Oedekerk says, "I think one of the most alarming moments I had on the feature was when we were recording Sam. There's this one line in the film where Ben walks in on Dag, the evil coyote in the chicken coop, and he just goes, ‘Put the hen down, Dag.' Everybody in the sound booth simultaneously went, ‘Whoa!' He's an amazing actor and an amazing person. He brings so much to the table in terms of his performance."

Miles the mule is, according to Oedekerk, "the soul of the piece. Miles becomes Otis's guide after Ben's gone," Oedekerk says. Ben's right-hand man and best friend, Miles is the voice of wisdom. Due to his old age and experience, he sees and understands more than the rest of the animals. (At the same time, he's not above boogieing when it's party time.)

"Danny Glover was my number one choice for Miles," Oedekerk continues. "I could already hear him in my head when I was writing. "He came in and effortlessly knocked down the character as I pictured him. There was perfect symmetry between what I wrote and Danny's performance."

Andie MacDowell plays Etta, the matriarch of the hens in the barnyard. She is the Coop Sergeant, the wise old hen who takes care of the chicks and teaches them her ways. Maternal and intuitive, she's one of the first to realize that Otis is troubled, but never discusses it, realizing that the cow needs time to work things out on his own.

"I love Andie's voice," says Oedekerk. "She has such an authentic nature to her; I get a wonderful feeling every time I hear her."

MacDowell was attracted to the role by the chance to please her family. "My kids will think it's a lot of fun to go to an animated movie and see their mom as the mother hen," says MacDowell. "They think I'm a mother hen in real life, so they'll think that's ridiculously funny."

The actress shed her natural Southern accent for the role. "I wanted to sound like an old-fashioned, storybook mother hen," she says. "The voice came naturally to me - I just didn't think she should sound Southern."

Otis's best friends rival him in their ability to goof around, play tricks, and have a good time. Pip the mouse (voiced by Jeff Garcia) is Otis's small and carefree best bud. This little guy with a big voice is outspoken and opinionated, always throwing in his two cents on every topic. The neurotic Freddy the ferret (voiced by Cam Clarke) is not the brightest animal in the barnyard, but he's got good reason to be a little mixed-up: he's just trying to keep down his natural desire to eat his best friend, Peck the rooster (voiced by Rob Paulsen). Peck is soft-spoken, level-headed, good-hearted - you almost wonder how he ended up with these jokers. The last member of the quintet is Pig (voiced by Tino Insana). All Pig's ever wanted to do is eat and party in mud and slop. The good news for Pig is that he's a pig - so that's exactly what he gets to do all day long. Pig is the most well-adjusted animal in the barnyard.

The most mysterious animal in the barnyard is Wild Mike. If music's playing, he's out of control - Wild Mike is the party animal of all party animals. A tangle of hair and arms and legs and who knows what else. "You can't quite tell what kind of animal Wild Mike is," says Oedekerk, "and that was really the goal. Right now, I'm the only one that knows; everyone else will have to wait for the ‘Barnyard' series on Nickelodeon. And he's really Otis's weak spot - when Wild Mike starts dancing, Otis cannot hold still. He has to dance with Wild Mike."

For the voice of one particularly obnoxious character, the whiny, bad-tempered, cow-tipping little creep known as Snotty Boy, Oedekerk had to look a little closer to home: Oedekerk supplies the voice (not only for Snotty Boy, but several characters).

"Yeah," he says ruefully, "with Snotty Boy it's really a question of ‘Who could be that annoying?' I realized no one exists that's that hateable so I had to do it myself. That's sadly, sadly what that came down to."

About the production

Once the voices were recorded, the animation process could begin in earnest. Even though the film would eventually be animated using computers, it started off in much the same way as conventional 2D animation - with hand-drawn story boards and character designs. The storyboard is then filmed and married to the recorded voices so that the filmmakers can get a rough idea of how each sequence will play. "It's really more like a flip book," Oedekerk says. "There's no animation. Between those two elements - the really rough visuals created by very talented story board artists, and the voice cast - that's the animator's guide to starting to build the physical performance."

Sometimes the voice actors are videotaped in the recording booth and the animators can look to their expressions and gestures for clues to their animated counterparts. And sometimes the animators videotape themselves.

"All animators are actors," says animation supervisor TJ Sullivan. "We'll get a shot, we'll go through it, think about it a little bit, listen to the audio for a while and then draw it, get an idea of how you want to block the scene before actually going in to animate. Or if you can actually act it out, you do it in front of a video camera."

Todd Grimes, another animation supervisor, adds, "You might see something in your face that you wouldn't have thought about, little subtle things to put in the animation."

Performance is so essential to the art of animation that Lead Animation Supervisor David Andrews considers his job primarily "to be an acting coach to the animators. Many were a lot of young animators, straight out of school. I coached them on their acting so that they would make acting choices that would support the characters. We had some women on our team so that helped with our female characters. But we involved some men, too, doing female acting, too. That was pretty funny. But it was all about keeping Steve O's vision of the story through the characters."

Creating those characters posed many challenges. For one thing, four-legged animals aren't built to walk on two legs. Trying to make them do so created some peculiar design problems. David Andrews recalls, "They're walking on their toes, because they're cows. You know how the heel of a cow's leg or a dog's leg is one third up from the ground? So they had to walk on their toes. You could fake a little heel and toe with the hoof but with that anatomy it looked odd. The challenge is always to get the illusion of weight on a large character like that. Because it's a 3D world, they look more rounded and dimensional so when you cheat the weight to do cartoony stuff, you have to sort of sneak that in. You're allowed a lot of leeway in comedy - you can break the laws of physics but you have to do it carefully."

Visually, many of the characters underwent transformations over the course of the production. Some of these involved simply tweaking the characteristics that were already in place. Others required total overhauls. On his journey from a statue in an art gallery to a living, breathing character on film, Otis was altered in many but subtle ways.

"Otis had to be right," says David Andrews, "so he took a little while to come out of the pipe. Does he have a crest on the top of his skull or does he have a flattop? Are his nostrils sunken in or are they flush with the tip of the nose? What does the contour of the side of his body from his ribs to his hips look like? It's a gentle S-curve and it's gotta be the right S-curve."

Dimitri Joannides, Head of Look Development, Texture Department and Marketing Art, adds, "There's just so many versions of everything. If you look at the spots on Otis, you go ‘Oh, it's Otis,' but we experimented with thirty to forty different patterns. I remember sitting with Steve on a palette table very late at night just putting out all these different possibilities. And there's a little flower designed cow spot on Daisy that I worked on. I could show you many different versions. Finally, the right one is just obvious."

"Sometimes you've got to rework it a few times, just to get the right feel out of it," says TJ Sullivan. "There's something you can't put your finger on. You try a few things, brainstorm with the guys, and figure it out."

The other challenging character was Wild Mike. "Steve had a clear picture in his head of what he wanted, and it was just trying to find the right look," says Sullivan.

"Wild Mike is kind of our Yoda," says Dimitri Joannides. "I've studied a lot of designs, and ‘Star Wars' went through thirty or forty versions of Yoda. I'd say we've given them a run for their money. It started with little sketches Steve did... I've kept them all. From start to final model, there were so many different ways it could have gone - his body, his skin, looking amphibian, covered in hair. He's been great, because I think in the end he's designed the way he should be. He's crazy."

Todd Grimes adds, "Steve wanted the film to show that there are many animals that live on a farm. He didn't want scenes that were sparse in terms of characters." As a result, some 180 characters are seen in the film.

Indeed, as David Andrews points out, it's a rare scene that features only one or two animals. "Sidekicks are in a lot of shots," he says. "For example, Pip, the mouse, rides around on Otis's shoulder. It makes it a lot of fun because you always see them together. Otis's friends are also around often." And there are some scenes, such as the "nightclub" in the barn, in which nearly all the characters in the film are onscreen at the same time.

Sounds simple enough - but in practice, the technical team had to be on top of their game to achieve these artistic demands. According to Jason Barlow, Lead Technical Supervisor, his team was astounded by "the sheer number of characters that we had to maintain on any given day - support, rebuild, fix. Not to mention the hair/fur requirement - we had over 120 characters with hair or fur of some sort: tails, manes, pretty much every instance of hair that you could think of."

As animation is completed, one of the final stages is to add lighting. It might be assumed that the lighting effects are simply a part of the artistic process, as it is in painting or conventional 2D animation. But Connon Carey, the lead lighting and digital intermediate supervisor, points out that lighting 3D animation is just like lighting a live action film. He says, "You have a virtual set and it's lit just like a real place. The same principles that apply in real world lighting apply in computer animation lighting. Lighting something from the front is going to make it appear flatter than lighting something from ¾ to the side. We'll cheat the lighting, placing it in certain areas so the characters will pop a little, be more prominent. We force the viewer's attention to where we want it to be with the lights. You don't want characters blending into the background - our job in any given sequence is to make sure the lighting and the shadows fit the mood of what the director's intention is."

And once the movie looks right, it's time to pay special attention to the way it sounds. In addition to the musical score by John Debney, the many songs that pepper the soundtrack were carefully chosen by Oedekerk early on in the process. "It's such a great, eclectic use of music," says executive producer Aaron Parry. "From Aerosmith to the North Mississippi All-stars to Peter Gabriel. It's rare that a song score truly supports what's up on the screen and really helps plunge you deep into the world of the movie. Plus, we want the audience to feel like they're going to a party. I think kids really get into it."

One song performance that the kids' parents will find intriguing is a rendition of "Won't Back Down" (written by Tom Petty and Jeffrey Lynne), performed by Sam Elliott. "We knew we wanted that song, as it really exemplified Ben's character. I mentioned I wanted to have Sam sing the song himself and remember being immediately asked, ‘Do you think he'd do it? Does he sing?' and I said, ‘I hope so, let's ask him.' Then Sam came in and really blew everyone away, it's like he'd been hiding this secret singing career on the side."

"Music is very foundational in the barnyard," says Oedekerk. "It's not a musical per se, but I did want animals to be playing music and performing. For me, it's a throwback to the classic Merrie Melodies and Silly Symphony cartoons. I always loved those and this is kind of my tribute to them."

About the cast

Kevin James (Otis) stars in and serves as executive producer on the hit CBS/Sony television series, "The King of Queens", which is now entering its ninth season and is seen daily in syndication across the country.

A successful stand-up comedian, Kevin James was inspired in part by comedic idols such as Robert Klein and Jerry Seinfeld, both fellow New Yorkers. James made the transition to television after being discovered at the 1996 Montreal Comedy Festival, where he signed a development deal to create his own show.

James starred in "Sweat the Small Stuff", a one-hour comedy special for Comedy Central. Recently, Kevin James and Ray Romano Executive Produced and starred in the HBO Sports Special "Making the Cut: Kevin James & Ray Romano." The documentary, which was about attempting to make the cut at the annual Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Tournament, was nominated for a Sports Emmy.

James broke into the film world in the Columbia Pictures box-office hit feature film, "Hitch," starring opposite Will Smith and Eva Mendes. He has also provided the voice for Officer Landers in the upcoming film "Monster House," which will be released in July 2006.

Courteney Cox (Daisy) is best known for her standout performance as Monica on the hit series "Friends," which won a 2002 Emmy Award for Best Comedy. Courteney moved to Los Angeles in 1985 and grabbed her first big break when she was cast in "Family Ties" as Michael J. Fox's girlfriend, Lauren Miller.

Cox most recently starred in the Sony Classics film "November" as LA photographer Sophie Jacobs. In 2004, Cox and husband David Arquette formed their own production company, Coquette. As part of Coquette, Courteney's first project was an interior design show for cable's WE (Women's Entertainment) Network called "Mix It Up." Courteney served as a creator and producer of the show, which profiled couples and roommates whose styles are at odds. Coquette has several other projects in development including a drama that has been sold to HBO called "The Fall and Rise of Taylor Kennedy."

Courteney's standout performance as Gail Weathers in Wes Craven's horror/comedy film "Scream" in 1996 led to a continued role in the two follow-up films. She starred opposite such talent as Neve Campbell, Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy and David Arquette.

She starred opposite Jim Carrey in 1994's breakout hit "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," directed by Tom Shadyac. It was for this role that she received an American Comedy Award nomination.

Courteney's other film credits include "3000 Miles to Graceland," starring opposite Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner, Lions Gate Films' "Get Well Soon" directed by Justin McCarthy, "Mr Destiny" and "Cocoon: The Return" among others.

Courteney lives in California with her husband, daughter, and dogs.

Sam Elliott (Ben) has distinguished himself as a premier actor by the variety of roles he has brought to life on the film and television. A native of Sacramento, California, Elliott has fond childhood memories of hiking and fishing trips with his father, a background which eminently prepared him for the many outdoor, action-packed roles he has played.

Elliott's first professional acting feature credit was in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Additional film credits include "Thank You for Smoking," a comedic satire; "The Hulk"; "Off the Map"; "We Were Soldiers"; "The Contender"; "Top Secret"; "Tombstone"; and "Gettysburg." On television, Elliott most recently starred in TNT's "Avenger." He was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role in "Buffalo Girls" and was also seen in "Fail-Safe," a two-hour television movie based on the 1962 novel about the Cold War and nuclear weapons, opposite Brian Dennehy, Harvey Keitel and Noah Wyle. He co-produced and starred in TNT's "You Know My Name," which won the first Golden Boot Best of the West Award.

Elliott made his debut as executive producer on TNT's acclaimed adaptation of Louis L'Amour's "Conagher." He is married to actress Katherine Ross and has one daughter, Cleo Rose.

Danny Glover (Miles) has been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 25 years. His film credits range from the blockbuster "Lethal Weapon" franchise to smaller independent features, some of which Glover also produced. Recently, he starred in the cult horror hit "Saw" and had a recurring role on the hit NBC drama series "ER" during the 2005 season.

Most recently, Glover completed filming the highly-anticipated feature "Dreamgirls" for director Bill Condon, co-starring Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles and Eddie Murphy. The film, based on the Tony Award-winning musical, is set for a Holiday 2006 release from DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures. Also for Paramount, he has signed on to "Shooter" for director Antoine Fuqua, starring opposite Mark Wahlberg and Michael Peña.

A native of San Francisco, California, Glover earned a degree in Economics from San Francisco State University and also trained at the Black Actors' Workshop of the American Conservatory Theatre. He started his acting career on the stage, appearing in numerous plays, including Athol Fugard's "The Island" and "Sizwe Banzi is Dead." However, it was Glover's Broadway debut in Fugard's "Master Harold...and the Boys" that first brought the actor national recognition.

It was after seeing his performance in "Master Harold...and the Boys" that film director Robert Benton cast Glover in his first leading role in 1984's Oscar nominee for Best Picture, "Places in the Heart." The following year, Glover starred in two more Best Picture nominees: Peter Weir's "Witness" and Steven Spielberg's "The Colour Purple."

In 1987, Glover partnered with Mel Gibson in the first "Lethal Weapon" film, earning an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actor. He went on to star in three hugely successful "Lethal Weapon" sequels. Glover has also invested his talents in more personal projects, including the award-winning "To Sleep With Anger," which he executive produced and for which he won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor; "Bopha!"; "Manderlay"; "Missing in America"; and the film version of Athol Fugard's play "Boesman and Lena." Glover's many film credits also include "The Royal Tenenbaums"; "Beloved," for which he won an Image Award for Best Actor; "The Rainmaker"; "Angels in the Outfield"; and Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon" and "Silverado." Glover has also lent his distinctive voice to such animated films as "Antz" and "The Prince of Egypt."

On the small screen, Glover won an Image Award and a Cable ACE Award and earned an Emmy nomination for his performance in the title role of the HBO movie "Mandela." He has received three more Emmy nominations for his work in the acclaimed miniseries "Lonesome Dove," "Fallen Angels," and the telefilm "Freedom Song," the last of which Glover also executive produced and for which he garnered another Image Award, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. In addition, he won an Image Award for his work in the miniseries "Alex Haley's Queen," and received Image Award nominations for his roles in "Buffalo Soldiers" and "Good Fences," which he also produced. Behind the camera, Glover executive produced and hosted the Fox Family Channel series "Courage," and executive produced and starred in the Showtime movie "3 AM" As a director, he earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for Showtime's "Just a Dream."

In 2003, Glover made a triumphant return to Broadway in a revival of "Master Harold... and the Boys," winning applause from both critics and audiences.

In 2004, Glover co-founded Louverture Films, LLC, dedicated to the development and production of films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity. He has also gained respect for his wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts. Glover currently serves as a UNICEF Ambassador and, in recognition of his dedication to public service, has been honoured with the 2002 Marian Anderson Award, the 2003 NAACP Chairman's Award, and the 2004 BET Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wanda Sykes (Bessy) has been called "one of the funniest stand-up comics" by her peers and ranks among Entertainment Weekly's 25 Funniest People in America. Her witty stand-up has driven her career to the small and large screens.

Sykes currently lends her voice to the animated feature "Over the Hedge" for DreamWorks Animation. She was last seen in the New Line feature "Monster-in-Law," starring opposite Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda. Later this summer, Sykes will co-star with Luke Wilson and Uma Thurman in the romantic comedy "My Super Ex-Girlfriend." She is currently filming the comedy "Evan Almighty," the sequel to "Bruce Almighty," in which she co-stars with Steve Carell. She also recently guest starred on "The New Adventures Old Christine" and on NBC's "Will & Grace." She was also seen on Comedy Central's "Wanda Does It," where she tried her hand at various non-showbiz jobs. Her first book, titled Yeah, I Said It, published by Simon and Schuster, hit bookstores in September, 2004. Yeah, I Said It is a hilarious collection of essays touching on life, family, and current events.

In the fall of 2003, Sykes wrote, produced, and starred in Fox's "Wanda at Large." She also starred in a one-hour Comedy Central special called "Wanda Sykes: Tongue Untied." In addition, she can be seen on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and heard on Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers" as the voice of Gladys Murphy.

Sykes was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, and raised in Maryland. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Hampton University. Her stand-up career began at a Coors Light Super Talent Showcase in Washington, DC, where she performed for the first time in front of a live audience.

She spent five years as part of the HBO's critically acclaimed "Chris Rock Show." As a performer and writer on the show, she was nominated for three Emmy Awards, winning in 1999 for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Special. In 2001, she won the American Comedy Award for Outstanding Female Stand-Up Comic. She won two more Emmys, one in 2002 and one in 2004, for her work on "Inside the NFL." In 2003, Wanda earned a Comedy Central Commie Award for "Funniest TV Actress." Other writing credits include the MTV 1999 Music Video Awards, The MTV Movie Awards, the 74th Annual Academy Awards, and The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show.

Sykes also appeared in the feature films: "Pootie Tang," "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," and "Down to Earth."

Andie MacDowell (Etta) has established herself as an accomplished actress in a career that shows no signs of slowing down - her undeniable charm and talent have resulted in worldwide recognition. She recently completed filming the ensemble dark comedy "Funny Farm" alongside Colm Feore, Jennifer Tilly and Rupert Graves. The film takes place during a family program week at an exclusive rehab clinic in New Mexico. MacDowell was last seen in the MGM feature "Beauty Shop" with Queen Latifah and the CBS telepic "Riding the Bus with My Sister," directed by Anjelica Huston.

Previous film credits include "Tara Road," "Crush" and "Harrison's Flowers" with Adrien Brody. MacDowell earned praise for her performance in the Emmy-nominated HBO original film, "Dinner with Friends." Daily Variety called her portrayal "arguably MacDowell's best work yet" and USA Today says the film was "blessed by an on-the-mark performance by MacDowell."

Additional dramatic performances include "End of Violence," directed by Wim Wenders, which was selected to screen at the opening of the 50th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival in 1998; Robert Altman's "The Player" and "Short Cuts," for which the cast earned a special Golden Globe for Best Ensemble; "Unstrung Heroes," directed by Diane Keaton and the ever-popular "St Elmo's Fire."

MacDowell earned the title of #1 female box-office draw worldwide with her performances in the smash hit romantic comedy "Four Weddings and a Funeral" for which she received a Golden Globe nomination and the western "Bad Girls" with Drew Barrymore. She also starred in the holiday classic "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray. In other comedies MacDowell continued to partner with top leading men including Gérard Depardieu in "Green Card," for which she again earned a Golden Globe nomination, Michael Keaton in "Multiplicity," and John Travolta in "Michael."

She first received critical acclaim and accolades for her performance as a repressed young wife in Steven Soderbergh's "sex, lies and videotape." The film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and garnered MacDowell the Independent Spirit Award and the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Actress as well as her first Golden Globe nomination. Additionally, she was presented with the coveted César d'Honneur for her body of work and the Golden Kamera Award from Germany's Horzu Publications.

Jeff Garcia (Pip) was sixteen when he landed his first television comedy spot on HBO's "Loco Slam." Since then the Latin-American comic has made numerous appearances, including spots on NBC's "Friday Night Videos," "Vibe with Sinbad" and Galavision's "Funny is Funny." Garcia has toured the country to appear in comedy clubs, colleges and events such as the Latino Laugh Festival in San Antonio, Texas, and constantly shows his versatility as a performer with his hard edge comedy, wide range of characters and his street-smart stories. In front of the camera, Garcia has appeared in the feature films "Cursed Part 3" and "LiteWeight," and on the small screen, he plays the voice of "Sheen" on Nickelodeon's hit animated series "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" and has guest-starred on the television series "Dangerous Minds."

About the filmmakers

Steve Oedekerk (Director/Writer/Producer), the Academy Award-nominated multi-hyphenate, has built an extraordinary career, experiencing vast success in writing, directing, producing, acting, stand-up comedy and computer generated animation.

He has written and directed films that have grossed over $1.6 billion in worldwide box office, including such blockbusters as "Bruce Almighty," the "Ace Ventura" franchise, "The Nutty Professor," and "Patch Adams." He received an Academy Award nomination for his producing and creative leadership role on "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius." He has just completed the screenplay for "Evan Almighty," the sequel to "Bruce Almighty."

Also excelling in the coveted youth demographic, Oedekerk has created cult franchise properties whose audience continues to grow with each passing year. From his initial indie feature film "High Strung" and THUMB filmettes to writing, directing and starring in the wild retro-martial arts comedy "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist," Oedekerk has a steadily growing base of Oedefans who religiously await, track down, and tune in to the more right-brained creations from Steve.

Further expanding the "Jimmy Neutron" franchise for Nickelodeon Television, Steve executive produced 60 episodes of "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron." Current "Jimmy Neutron" TV movies and hour specials such as "Jet Fusion" and "The Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour" continue to land at the top of the children's TV ratings. The "Jimmy" TV series initially released with $100 million dollars of sponsor support. Oedekerk also starred in his own television special for NBC, produced an animated Christmas special for ABC as well as a "Thumb Wars" comedy special for UPN. Current TV projects include the CG Animated Series "Adventures in the Barnyard" based on the "Barnyard" feature film. The series premieres on Nickelodeon, Spring 2007.

Always in pursuit of the next appealing entertainment venue, Steve is now focused on the burgeoning "digital handheld media" market such as the Video iPod and Sony PSP. "Dirk Derby Wonder Jockey" will be the first broadcast length comedy series released exclusively to the digital media arena. Available only online through digital download, "Dirk Derby" is O Entertainment's pilot project with "World Thumb Wrestling" and "Oedebattle" on deck. The first six episodes of Dirk Derby will release worldwide, Fall 2006.

Oedekerk, O Entertainment and Omation not only create original programming but also support them with groundbreaking technology. In the recent popular resurgence of stereoscopic feature films, Oedekerk and O Entertainment led the way with the first IMAX 3D animated film, "Santa vs. the Snowman" - first released November 2002, then doubling its number of IMAX screens and taking the top box office position Christmas 2003. "Santa" expanded again Christmas 2004 along with a DVD release by Universal Home Video and a picture book published by Penguin/Putnam. Oedekerk also created "Thumbmation" the technology behind the series of Thumb Parody projects distributed worldwide on DVD and video by Image Entertainment. Kicking off the series was "Thumb Wars," followed by "Thumbtanic," "The Blair Thumb," "Bat Thumb," "Frankenthumb" and "The Godthumb." The ALL THUMB six box DVD set is currently available in retail and online outlets. In the arena of feature film visual effects, "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist" remains the only low budget feature under $10M to tally over 2000 visual effects shots.

From the age of six years old, Steve Oedekerk knew he wanted to perform comedy and make movies. "I didn't know what it meant at the time. I would see comedians on TV and watch comedy films; and it just looked fun to me." Attending Catholic school for 12 years, Oedekerk sites the positive effect on his comedy career: "I was pretty much always in trouble. Nothing bad, just disrupting a lot... a whole lot, I guess. Now I get paid for basically doing the same thing, which is fascinating, so I still contend if people aren't happy with your behaviour, perhaps you just need to seek out a different venue."

Beginning his career as a stand-up comic, by age 23 Steve was headlining comedy clubs across America. "My act was sort of unique and off-balance, so I quickly developed a following of comedy aficionados. My very favourite jokes and routines were ones that made people laugh even though they didn't know exactly why."

Breaking into independent filmmaking, Oedekerk wrote and starred in "High Strung," with original VHS copies still being sold as collectibles on eBay. Hollywood taking notice, Oedekerk sold his original screenplay "Nothing to Lose" in a studio bidding war. Suddenly in demand as a screenwriter, Oedekerk went on to pen some of the most successful movies in recent history. While writing on the Fox series "In Living Colour," Oedekerk collaborated with Jim Carrey on the surprise hit comedy "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." When that film became a breakout success, Oedekerk was asked to write and direct its sequel, "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls," which proved to be one of those rare sequels that far surpassed the box office gross of the original. Following the success of the "Ace Ventura" franchise, Oedekerk co-wrote Universal's "The Nutty Professor," which became one of the highest-grossing films of 1996. He then directed and appeared (in a scene-stealing cameo) in Touchstone Pictures' "Nothing To Lose," starring Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence. He went on to write the box office smash and Golden Globe nominated "Patch Adams" starring Robin Williams. From there, Steve went on to produce "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," wrote, directed, and starred in "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist" and co-wrote the screenplay for "Bruce Almighty," starring Jim Carrey, for Universal which earned 85 million dollars on its opening weekend and went on to be an international smash hit.

Steve has just completed the screenplay for "Evan Almighty" the sequel to "Bruce Almighty" starring Steve Carell and is currently writing his next live action comedy feature "Ted Hur."

Oedekerk resides in Southern California with his wife, two children and a badger, pound for pound known to be the most vicious mammal on the planet.

Paul Marshal (Producer) is a long-time collaborator with Steve Oedekerk. For film, Marshal is credited as producer on "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist" and the IMAX film "Santa vs. the Snowman 3D." He was co-producer of "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius."

For television, Marshal's credits as a producer include the series "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" and "Weird TV" (2003), the shorts "Thumbtanic," "The Blair Thumb," "Thumb Wars," and "Santa vs. the Snowman," and the telefilms "Jimmy Neutron: Win, Lose and Kaboom" and "The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour." He also served as coordinating producer and editor of the telefilm "" and directed "Weird TV" in its original form in 1994.

Julia Pistor (Executive Producer) is Executive Vice President of Nickelodeon Movies, a position she has held since 1994. In this capacity, she oversees development and production for Nickelodeon's feature films based at Paramount Pictures. Most recently, she served as producer of "Nacho Libre," a comedy starring Jack Black and directed by Jared Hess ("Napoleon Dynamite"), which has become a box-office hit. She also served as executive producer of "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" and producer of "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie," both family hits in 2004. She was executive producer of two Academy Award-nominated films, "The Wild Thornberrys Movie" in 2002 and "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" in 2001, as well as for "Rugrats Go Wild" in 2003.

Pistor is currently serving as executive producer of "Charlotte's Web," a live-action adaptation of the best-selling children's paperback of all time, starring Dakota Fanning and the voices of Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey, Cedric the Entertainer, Kathy Bates, Reba McEntire, Robert Redford, Thomas Haden Church, and André Benjamin. The film, a Paramount Pictures/Walden Media presentation of a Kerner Entertainment Company/Nickelodeon Movies production, will be released December 20.

Pistor served as executive producer for Paramount Pictures' and Nickelodeon's "Rugrats in Paris: The Movie," which grossed more than $100 million worldwide, and was a producer for Nick's sci-fi adventure "Clockstoppers" and the live-action hit "Snow Day." Additionally, she co-produced the company's first animated feature in 1998, "The Rugrats Movie," which grossed more than $150 million worldwide.

Pistor was integral to the early success of Nick Movies, having served as executive producer of the 1997 Nickelodeon movie "Good Burger," starring Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, and as associate producer of the company's first feature in 1996, "Harriet the Spy," starring Rosie O'Donnell and Michelle Trachtenberg.

Originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Aaron Parry (Executive Producer) was inspired from an early age by his mother's passion for creating and teaching art in her private studio. Painting from the age of 8 and winning many local contests fortified Aaron's creative path toward arts. Having completed degrees in both Vocal Performance and Music Composition along with his love of art, the animated musicals of the 1990s gave Aaron a clear direction for his talents. With this, Aaron came to Los Angeles to continue his education in film arts at the University of Southern California. Soon after, a fast paced animation career was off and running. Starting in 1994 at Walt Disney Feature Animation and continuing to Warner Bros. Feature Animation until 2002, Aaron worked on such films as "The Iron Giant," "Osmosis Jones," and "Scooby-Doo." Aaron's producing career has focused on the art of mixing live-action, traditional animation, and CGI animation. The next opportunity for Aaron was the multi-media film production "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie." Upon completion of that film, Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies offered Aaron the opportunity to executive produce Steve Oedekerk's CGI Feature, "Barnyard," their most challenging animated feature to date.

Billy Weber (Editor) most recently served as editor of the family hit "Nacho Libre." Prior to that, he earned an Academy Award nomination for his editing work on "The Thin Red Line" for director Terrence Malick, with whom he previously collaborated on "Days of Heaven." Earlier in his career, Weber earned an Academy Award nomination for "Top Gun."

Among his numerous feature film editing credits are "Iceman," "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Beverly Hills Cop 2," "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," "Midnight Run," "Days of Thunder," "Pure Luck," "Grumpier Old Men," "Murder at 1600," "Miss Congeniality," "Showtime," and "Gigli." Additionally, Weber contributed to a number of films as additional editor, among them "The Warriors," "48 Hours," "Extreme Prejudice," "The Cowboy Way," and "Bulworth."

Weber was born and raised in Los Angeles. While working at UCLA as a researcher, he met film editor Sid Levin, who introduced him to the craft. Beginning his film industry career in 1966 in the print shop at MCA, it was not long before Weber found his way to the editing room as an apprentice on the television series "Name of the Game." He wrote two scripts before his next editing job as an assistant on "The Candidate." An introduction to editor Bob Estrin then led to Weber being hired as an assistant on Terrence Malick's acclaimed "Badlands."

Paul D Calder (Editor) has served as editor on numerous animated television series, including "Futurama," "Toonsylvania," "Extreme Ghostbusters," and "Casper." He also edited the special "Olive, the Other Reindeer."

John Debney (Music By) is one of the most sought-after composers in Hollywood, and was honoured earlier this year with an Academy Award nomination for his score for Mel Gibson's epic historical drama, "The Passion of the Christ."

His distinguished career includes writing music for motion pictures and television. Among his most recent feature credits are the scores for "Zathura," "The Princess Diaries" and the sequel "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," "Raising Helen," and "Sin City." Debney has also written music for such diverse films as "Elf," "Bruce Almighty," "The Whole Ten Yards," "Welcome to Mooseport," "Spy Kids," "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams," "Cats and Dogs," "The Tuxedo," "Swimfan," "The Scorpion King," "Dragonfly," "The Emperor's New Groove," "Heartbreakers," "See Spot Run," "I Know What You Did Last Summer," "Liar, Liar," "End of Days," "Inspector Gadget," "Paulie," "Relic," "My Favourite Martian," "Dick," "Sudden Death," "Cutthroat Island," "Hocus Pocus," "The Replacements," and "Michael Jordan to the Max."

A three-time Emmy Award winner for "The Young Riders," "SeaQuest," and "The Cape," his other television credits include "Sisters" and "Cagney & Lacey." Debney combines extensive classical training with a strong knowledge of contemporary sounds to create a wide range of musical styles.

The talented composer's scores will also be heard in such upcoming films as "I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer."

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