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Jan. 27, 2009

MSU alumnus, film producer back in town, available for media interviews

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University alumnus Bill Mechanic will be back in town for a prescreening of his latest movie, “Coraline,” the first stop-motion – a frame by-frame animation technique – film to be shot in 3-D and scheduled for release Feb. 6.


“Like many alums, I have always felt a debt and a loyalty to MSU for getting me started in the world at large,” said Mechanic, executive producer of the film. “With ‘Coraline,’ the connection was very direct. ‘Coraline’ is the story of a family that moves from Michigan to Oregon.


“Coraline” is based on Neil Gaiman’s best-selling children’s book of the same name. Henry Selick, who directed “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” is the movie’s director. In the movie, Dakota Fanning plays the voice of Coraline and Teri Hatcher plays The Mother and The Other Mother.


While making the movie, Mechanic made sure that his alma mater was not overlooked even in the smallest of details.


“While we were in the preproduction phase, the costume designer was showing me the key outfits for the principal characters,” he said. “Everything was great until we got to The Father who, to my chagrin, was wearing a U of M sweatshirt. I said:  ‘Not on any movie I produce!’  And so, at no small expense, a specialist had to knit a new miniature MSU sweatshirt The Father now wears in the movie.”


In cooperation with MSU Athletics, the MSU College of Arts and Letters is hosting an invite-only, sold-out, prerelease and reception on Feb. 1 at Celebration Cinema’s IMAX Theatre lobby, 200 E. Edgewood Blvd., Lansing. However, Mechanic will be available for interviews from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Media should check in at the registration desk located near the IMAX Theatre lobby.


MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo and football coach Mark Dantonio are scheduled to attend the events with their families.


Mechanic, who owns California-based Pandemonium Films, earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of Arts and Letters in 1973. He is the former chairperson and CEO of 20th Century Fox, which under his supervision produced award-winning movies such as “Titanic” and “Braveheart.”


For more information about MSU’s College of Arts and Letters, visit www.cal.msu.edu. To listen to a podcast with Bill Mechanic, visit http://spartanpodcast.com/?p=488. For more information about “Coraline,” and to watch a trailer of the movie, visit www.coraline.com.