MGM trees 'Bunyan' toon

John Goodman, Kelsey Grammer lead voice cast

MGM has picked up North American distribution rights to "Bunyan & Babe," an animated feature from Exodus Film Group.

The movie is inspired by the classic folk tale about the mighty lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox, Babe. In this modern take, the folklore icons join with two children to save their town from an unscrupulous property developer.

John Goodman and Kelsey Grammer lead the voice cast.

Michael Nickles and Julia Wall wrote the screenplay for the film, which was co-directed by Tony Bancroft ("Mulan") and Oscar winner Jim Rygiel, visual effects supervisor on "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Exodus CEO John Eraklis and president Max Howard are producing.

" 'Bunyan & Babe' will bring to life this classic American character and introduce him to a whole new generation of moviegoers in a unique and original way," Eraklis said. "MGM demonstrated themselves to be a good partner on our last feature release (2008's 'Igor'), and we are happy to be working alongside them again on this film."

Exodus reps are heading to this month's Festival de Cannes to sell foreign territories.

The company has "The Hero of Color City" in postproduction with Magnolia Pictures and is developing a series of animated DVDs featuring Tyler Perry's Madea character.

Jay A. Fernandez reported from Los Angeles; Steven Zeitchik reported from New York.
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