LOS ANGELES TIMES | ENTERTAINMENT: “Addams Family Values,” How did they do that? Featuring Tony Gardner and Alterian Inc.

The Sleight of Hand in 'Addams' : Movies: How did they do that? Tony Gardner's Alterian Studios was responsible for much of the special effects in 'Values.' It's all a matter of 'illusion,' he says.


Wednesday Addams is standing against the wall at Alterian Studios. As soon as her wig comes back from the production company, Wednesday will join Darkman, the Tommyknocker and a life-size hippo on permanent display of Alterian's most beloved children.

Much of the special-effects work that Tony Gardner's Alterian Studios did for "Addams Family Values" ended up as "blink and you'll miss it" moments in the film, but if you don't blink, you'll go home wondering, "How did they do that?"

And that's just the reaction Gardner hopes for.

"I think it all goes back to starting as a magician," Gardner said. "The whole thing was the illusion and being able to fool somebody."

Gardner, now 30, got his start apprenticing with three Academy Award-winning special effects artists--Rick Baker, Stan Winston and Greg Cannon (who won for his work on "Bram Stoker's Dracula"). Two particular illusions Gardner created with his studio stand out in "Addams Family Values": Wednesday's blending into the woodwork--literally--and Baby What, Cousin Itt's new offspring.

For the scene in which Wednesday (Christina Ricci) camouflages herself as part of a wall to spy on the sinister new nanny, Debbie (Joan Cusack), Gardner and his crew had to make a full body cast of Ricci and manufacture a stand-in dummy. Instead of needing two hours to be put into full makeup, Ricci could simply lean into the dummy's fake neck, leaving only her face needing to be made up.

Gardner didn't have to worry about dealing with a potentially prickly actor with Baby What: the tyke is entirely mechanical. There were other challenges, though. The guidelines he received from director Barry Sonnenfeld and visual effects supervisor Alan Munro: "Here's a ball of fur: make it cute, make it happy, make kids want to relate to it, make adults think it's precious and want to hold it, and . . . good luck."

The resulting Baby What gets one of the biggest laughs in the movie, but more rewarding to Gardner was the reaction of the film's crew. "I think the reward," he says, "really comes from going on set and taking something that's a bunch of motors and foam wrapped over fiberglass, creating something that's alive and watching a film crew--probably your most jaded audience in existence, because they've seen it all--get excited about it, whether there's a person in it or not."

Gardner's studios also built the miniatures that stand in for the Addams house and Uncle Fester's new house ("We called it Debbie's Dream House" for the nanny character played by Cusack, who plots to wed Fester). The Addams house is in many shots, but Debbie's Dream House was built for one main purpose--to blow up.

"It was designed to explode and obliterate itself instantaneously, like a Looney Tunes cartoon," Gardner said.

Though called a miniature, the exploding house was actually 16 feet tall and 28 feet long, taking up a large chunk of the warehouse where Alterian is situated, in Irwindale.

"Everyone had to work around it and walk around it," Gardner said. "(Then) all this stuff drives out to the set one day on a Friday and they come back on Monday with two milk crates"--all that was left of Debbie's Dream House. Even the tables the house was built on were destroyed.

The house wasn't hard to build, Gardner says, because "we'd done a lot of exploding bodies in the past and we were able to use a lot of the existing technologies for it," and there was a certain amount of professional satisfaction in those two milk crates.

As a child, Gardner might have had a premonition about the line of work he would eventually end up in. He was fascinated by the magic set his grandparents bought him when he was 6.

"I picked up this box where you put a card in and it's got a fake bottom and (the card) falls. Well, I picked it up without reading the instructions, put a card in it, closed it and opened it and the card was gone. . . . Then I turned it over and I shook it and the card fell out from the fake bottom. Then I got it. I was like, 'It's fake! It's not real!'--and I was hooked."

LOS ANGELES TIMES | ENTERTAINMENT: “Born to Be Wild,” movie review featuring Alterian Inc.

MOVIE REVIEW : The Gorilla's the Prize in 'Born to Be Wild'

It's a shame that the makers of "Born to Be Wild" went to such great lengths to create an absolutely convincing gorilla via technical wizardry only to waste their efforts on such a trite, predictable comedy-adventure. Both Katie the Gorilla--the creation of special animatronics effects expert Tony Gardner--and young Wil Horneff, who are the film's endearing stars, and its serious animal-rights theme, deserve much better....

Original Article


LOS ANGELES TIMES | ENTERTAINMENT: “A Dirty Shame,” featuring Alterian, Inc. & Tony Gardner

One of the tops in the trade

For Tony Gardner, a 21-year veteran of movie makeup and special effects prosthetics, the request was hardly unusual. "We want you to put some massive fake breasts on Selma Blair," he recalls John Waters telling him by phone. "Boobs that toe the line of decency and physical plausibility."

When Gardner stopped laughing, he took the job on "A Dirty Shame," the raunch-friendly director's NC-17-rated sex farce that came out on Friday. The prosthetic designer's primary directive: Transform the gamine Blair into an exhibitionistic exotic dancer whose stage name, Ursula Udders, bespeaks her monumental physique. "John said he wanted to get these as large as we can -- but not just be boobs on legs," Gardner says.

After experimenting with the size and shape of her appendages -- initially, kickballs were used as stand-ins -- he faced the difficulty of his appointed task. "We figured out the plane in between the boobs , as well as the mass and angle they would lie at," he says. "Plus, I learned the relationship between the fullness, circumference and cup size.

"All of a sudden, there were all of these technical aspects. That's when the fear factor set in."

But it wasn't the first time he had been enlisted to grossly distort female anatomy. The designer's more notable professional achievements include the shriveled geriatric breasts shown to hilarious effect in "There's Something About Mary" and Gwyneth Paltrow's "fat suit," which simulated her appearance as a 375-pound woman in "Shallow Hal." More of his work will be featured later this year in "The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie" and "Seed of Chucky."

To help facilitate Gardner's work on "Shame," Waters' office faxed him pages from breast fetish magazines and e-mailed him websites where he could research the sex performer Zena Fulsom. "She's this English porn star with breasts bigger than her head," explains Waters.


Dirty Shame 1 - edited



NEW YORK POST | ENTERTAINMENT: “Marion Cotillard shows you her boobs"

Marion Cotillard shows you her boobs

Whether it's her classy role in "La Vie en Rose," her elegant role in "Nine" or her perfectly put together image on the red carpet, we've always admired how refined Marion Cotillard seems. Yet, we can't deny how much joy it gave us to learn that she's got a funny side as big as the boobs on her forehead.

Yes, you heard us right -- "Forehead Boobs." That's the latest video from the fellas at Funny Or Die, who Tweeted this picture of the Oscar winner on set with Taraji P. Henson and Lesley Ann Warren (who will always be Miss. Scarlett to us!)