Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Animaniacs" Recording Session: April 11, 1995

I doodled the faces of Yakko, Wakko and Dot during the voice recording (and singing) session for "The Big Wrap Party" segment of Animaniacs at Monterey Post in Burbank, California, back on April 11, 1995.  Hard to believe it was 20 years ago!   

I tend to draw during almost every recording session, so these sketches aren't unusual.  What's unique about this set of doodles is that I had everyone at the session sign it.  

So, scattered around these notepad drawings of Yakko, Wakko and Dot are the signatures of just a few of the people who gave voice and sound to the "Animaniacs" series:  engineers Harry Andronis and Patrick Rodman; recording assistant Kelly Foley; casting director Leslie Lamers;  voice director Andrea Romano;  series composer and music director Richard Stone; and the voices of Yakko, Wakko and Dot, namely Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell and Tress MacNeille.  What a group!  I feel very fortunate to have worked with these great talents, and so glad to continue working with Rob, Jess and Tress, among others, on Disney's "The 7D." 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


This is a BIG deal!  So big that it's taken 20 years to get the planning just right!
Along with Paul Rugg and John McCann, I'm proud to announce the following event:
Coming in 2015! 

That's right, 2015 will mark the 20th anniversary of the premier of Steven Spielberg presents FREAKAZOID, and what better way to mark the occasion than an entire weekend of Freakazoid  workshops, panel discussions, screenings, performances and one-of-a-kind events.

Yes!  Paul Rugg -- Freakazoid himself -- John McCann and I will be welcoming a slew of special guests, and we'd like you to take part in this weekend of non-stop activities -- the kind only Freakazoid and his friends could possibly bring you. 
Details and schedules are coming soon.  We hope you will plan on joining us in 2015 for this entertaining and IMMERSIVE weekend!

A bear WILL ride a motorcycle!

Pull the string!

And stay tuned!!!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"THE 7D": The Voice Actors, Part 4

Here's Kevin Michael Ricardson (the voice of Happy) with The 7D series' casting director, Abigail (Abbie) D'Andrea.

Among other casting coups for the show, Abbie booked Jimmy Weldon, the voice of "Yakky Doodle" from The Yogi Bear Show (1961), to voice the role of Whoopty Doopty Schmoodily Duck in the upcoming 7D episode entitled "Bing Bong Beans."   Jimmy, pictured below, turned 90 last December and is going stronger than ever!


Abbie also brought in two of our very favorite voice stars to perform in various 7D episodes:  Tress MacNeille (Duck Tales, The Simpsons, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs) and Rob Paulsen (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain).  

These are just a few of the great casting choices made by Abbie during the first season of  The 7D.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"THE 7D": The Voice Actors, Part 3

And now, the bad guys of Jollywood...the comic villains in The 7D:
Jess Harnell (Grim Gloom) and Kelly Osbourne (Hildy Gloom)

Calamities in Jollywood are created by The Glooms, a pair of witch and warlock hipster newlyweds who spend their days and nights hatching and executing plots to overthrow the queen, take over the kingdom, defeat the 7D, and steal all the magic jewels in the 7D's mine.   

Dim-but-doting husband Grim Gloom is played by the always-rocking Jess Harnell.   Wakko Warner on Animaniacs is just one of his previous standout roles.  

And Grim's fiery and spirited bride is played by the fiery and spirited star of Fashion Police herself, Kelly Osbourne, in her first animated role.   (She nails it.)

A new pair of Disney villains are born!

Look out, 7D -- these two are trouble.  (And they're funny, too!)

"THE 7D": The Voice Actors, Part 2

Just a few days to the Disney XD premiere of The 7D.  

But first, meet Queen Delightful and Lord Starchbottom!

Left to right:  Tom Ruegger, Leigh-Allyn Baker (Queen Delightful), Voice Director Kelly Ward, Paul Rugg (Starchbottom)

Here are two more stars in the cast:   

Leigh-Allyn Baker, star of Good Luck Charlie,  plays the beloved and whimsical ruler of Jollywood, Queen Delightful.  

Her aide-de-camp and right hand man is the panicky bureaucrat Lord Starchbottom, played by Freakazoid himself, Paul Rugg.  Paul is also one of the writers on the show.

Next up...the heavies on The 7D.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

"THE 7D": The Voice Actors, Part 1

The 7D cast back when we did the pilot a couple of years ago.  That's Sleepy (Stephen Stanton), Doc (Bill Farmer), Bashful (Billy West), Grumpy (Maurice LaMarche), Happy (Kevin Michael Richardson) and Sneezy (Scott Menville).  That's me in the middle crashing the lower photo.  For the series, Dee Bradley Baker joined the cast as Dopey.  (Dee is on the far right, below.)     

Scott Menville, Maurice LaMarche, Kevin Michael Richardson, Billy West, Stephen Stanton, Billy Farmer, Dee Bradley Baker

In front, on the left, that's the best voice director in the business, Kelly Ward.  We're lucky to have him directing The 7D.  That's Kevin Michael Richardson next to Kelly.  In back:  Dee Bradley Baker, Scott Menville, Billy West, Stephen Stanton and me.

Additional members of our cast will be featured in the next post. 

"THE 7D": The 3 Directors

Here are the three brilliant directors on Disney's THE 7D series:  Alfred Gimeno, Charles Visser and Jeff Gordon, out in front of the Empire offices in Burbank, where Alfred is happily waiting for a streetcar that, much to his dismay, will never arrive.  

"THE 7D": The 7 Writers

Here's a 2013 photo of the seven in-house writers for Disney's "THE 7D."  Front and center, that's our story editor, Sherri Stoner.    She is flanked by associate story editor Deanna Oliver on the left and series writer Shea Fontana on the right.  Back row, left to right:  series writers Paul Rugg, Randy Rogel, me and Roger Eschbacher.  

"The 7D" premieres on Disney XD on July 7, 2014.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

The People Who Made "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs" -- Part Four

Above, left to right:  Colin Wells, who provides the voice of Colin, the kid who tells us about Randy Beaman on Animaniacs; the Executive Producer of Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, and Pinky & the Brain, Steven Spielberg;  and Nate Ruegger, the voice of Baby Plucky on Tiny Toons, Skippy Squirrel on Animaniacs, and Froggo on Histeria!   (Photo circa 1994)

On the right, Paul Strickland, Tiny Toon Adventures' Production Manager, with his wife Robin Carmichael Strickland, on the left.  Paul, Robin and I worked together at Hanna-Barbera in the 80's.  (Circa 1993)

Above, our fearless Executive Producer, Steven Spielberg, center, at one of our yearly wrap parties.  Behind him, standing, is Luke Ruegger, the voice of "The Flame," Bumpo the bassett and "The Brave Little Trailer" on Animaniacs and the voice of Big Fat Baby and Billy the Kid on Histeria!  Flanking Steven are two of Luke's closest childhood pals, Wesley and Ryan Hasting. (Circa 1995)

From 1996:  Charles Visser went from storyboard artist to series director on Animaniacs and Pinky & the Brain.  Today, along with Alfred Gimeno and Jeff Gordon, Charles is a director of Disney's  new animated series, The 7D.

Visiting the Animanics/Pinky and the Brain/Histeria composers at the Warner Bros. Studio Clint Eastwood Sound Stage.  Left to right:  that's me next to series composer The Great Stonini, Richard Stone, and two of his closest and most talented musical collaborators, composers Julie and Steve Bernstein.  

Above, four more stars from Warner Bros. Animation, circa 1997.   Top left:  Bob Doucette -- designer, artist (Animaniacs, Tiny Toons),  show creator (Detention), director and producer (Road Rovers and Histeria).  Top right:  Harry Andronis --  the brilliant and beloved recording engineer of Animaniacs, Pinky & the Brain, Batman: the Animated Series, Histeria and most other series produced by Warner Bros. Animation in the 90's.  In the center:  the one and only Tress MacNeille -- the voice of Babs Bunny, Dot Warner, Hello Nurse and countless other characters at Warner Brothers animation, at Disney, on The Simpson and everywhere in the cartoon universe.  And standing in front:  Cody Ruegger, the inspiration for all the Baby Plucky cartoons ("Water go down the hole"), the voice of The Little Bluebird on Animaniacs, and the voice of Loud Kiddington on Histeria!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The People Who Made "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs" -- Part Three

Pictured below with Yakko:  the lead film editor of both Tiny Toons and Animaniacs, Joe Gall;  and the legendary and unflappable production supervisor Kathy Page Cowan, who went on to become a producer at Warner Bros and the Hub.   I'm the one crowding the frame on the right.  Circa 1995. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Greetings from "The 7D"

This promotional image for "The 7D" animated television series appeared on the cover of Kidscreen Magazine in September 2013.  To my knowledge, this cover art is the only preview image of the 7D characters released by Disney at this time.   This is a sneak peek of the actual new, revised and updated character designs that we're using in the "The 7D" series for the Seven Dwarfs.

This piece of character art was designed and drawn by series director and designer Alfred Gimeno.  The background was designed and painted by series art director Frank Montagna.

"The 7D" is deep in production and is being made at Disney Television Animation.  Disney Junior's Nancy Kanter and Emily Hart are the creative execs guiding "The 7D."   An earlier posting here indicated a premiere date, but that was incorrect.  The series premier date has not yet been announced. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Write Funny Scripts for Disney's "The 7D"

In our never-ending goal to demonstrate the art of animation production, Cartoonatics is proud to present a step-by-step analysis of the script-writing process used for the upcoming animated television series, Disney's "The 7D."

Step One

To create stories for "The 7D," assemble a team of top-notch animation writers.  Since your budget is limited, offer these writers relatively low salaries but throw in attractive perqs like free bowls of breakfast cereal and unlimited elevator rides to and from the workplace lobby.

Back row:  Paul Rugg, Randy Rogel, Tom Ruegger, Roger Eschbacher.  Front row:  Sherri Stoner, Deanna Oliver, Shea Fontana


Step Two

Once you have hired seven writers, one for each of the lead 7D characters, gather those writers together into a "think tank" (AKA "cubicle").

Each work day, the writers meet to think up funny story ideas.   This process could take quite a bit of time, anything from a few minutes to more than 26 months, depending on various factors, including budget, burned-out brain cells and distracting YouTube videos.   


Step Three 

Once a writer comes up with an idea, he shares it with the writing team.  Whether the idea is brilliant or lame, the rest of the team is supportive and embraces the idea with enthusiasm. 


Step Four

The story editor quietly informs the writer that the proposed story idea is unfeasible, hackneyed, unfunny, already-been-done and rejected months ago by the network.  Other than that, it's a keeper.


Step Five 

The writers resume the process of thinking up funny story ideas. 


Step Six

11 am:  Lunch Time!


Step Seven 

2 pm:  The arduous story-breaking process resumes.  


Step Eight  

Inspiration strikes!  

Unable to come up with an original idea, the team decides to do a parody of a  popular TV show or movie...but with a "7D twist!"


Step Nine

The writers decide that each story will be character-driven and will feature the unique, charming, lovable, funny and friendly personalities of our seven stars:   the 7D.  


Step Ten   

It's the job of the writers to make sure every story includes not only comedy and adventure, but also a warm, gentle moment that will touch the hearts of our audience. 


Step Eleven

And if the script comes in short -- add a song.   A peppy song. 

If it's really short -- add two songs! 


Step Twelve   

After an exhausting day of profound pondering and crafting fairy tales for the 21st century,  it's quitting time!  


And that's just a peek at the fast-paced process of writing cartoon comedy for the new animated TV series, Disney's "The 7D!"

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Disney's "The 7D" -- Some of the Crew Members -- Part 1

For the past year or so, I've been working with an incredible team of artists, directors, writers, actors, musicians, producers and creative network execs on a new animated series called "The 7D," which will premier on Disney Junior sometime in 2014.   Here are just a few of the characters who have come together to help make this show happen...

Above:  an afternoon stroll by some of the crew, including (left to right) Paul Rugg (writer and the voice of Lord Starchbottom), Randy Rogel (series writer), Charles Visser (series director), Roger Eschbacher (writer), Deanna Oliver (series writer), Carson Kugler (storyboard artist), Kevin Frank (storyboard artist), Alfred Gimeno (series director), David Shair (storyboard revisions), Sherri Stoner (story editor and writer), Barry Caldwell (storyboard artist) and Roger Dondis (storyboard supervisor).

Lunch at the Sonora campus commissary with Kevin Michael Richardson , series composer Parry Gripp, and Emily Hart, who is the network executive on the series.  In addition to her creative input on The 7D, Emily is also Disney Junior's Executive Director of Programming. 

Series art director Frank Montagna and background designer Brad Gake.  

Writer Paul Rugg is given brilliant script notes by a visiting Amish woman.