Friday, April 22, 2011

The Cartoon Shows that Never Were #2 -- "Mixed Nutz" (2008) -- Part 1

Back in 2008, I proposed an animated TV series to the powers-that-be at Warner Bros.   

The basic concept of the show:  cartoon universes collide, resulting in Looney Tunes characters and Hanna-Barbera characters appearing in cartoons with each other.  

Bugs Bunny and Yogi Bear in the logo from "Mixed Nutz," an animated TV series I pitched to Warner Bros. back in 2008

I called the show "Mixed Nutz" and pitched it to Brad Globe, head of Warner Bros. global licensing.   Brad loved the concept and my pitch.  In fact, at my first meeting with him, three minutes into the pitch, after he had seen a few pieces of the art, he looked at me and, with a huge smile, said:  "We're making this show.  I've been waiting for someone to walk in with a concept like this for at least three years.  And now you've done it.  We're going to make this show."

Bugs Bunny makes a wrong turn in Albuquerque and arrives in Bedrock where he drives Fred Flintstone nuts in this segment from "Mixed Nutz," a TV series pitched to Warner Bros. by Tom Ruegger in 2008.

Pitches normally don't go this well.     

I was on cloud nine.  

A week or so later, there was a follow-up pitch with Brad, Warner Bros. Television Animation President Peter Roth, and the President of the Warner Bros. Television Group Bruce Rosenblum, and once again, "Mixed Nutz" received a very enthusiastic response, so much so that in the room that day, the three execs committed to making a pilot for the series.  Hand shakes all around.  

A very happy day.  

Daffy subs for Shaggy in this Scooby Doo segment from "Mixed Nutz," an animated TV series pitched by Tom Ruegger to Warner Bros. back in 2008. 

Over the next couple of weeks, I continued developing segments and story ideas for the show, I kept drawing and pulling artwork together, and I started to make calls in hopes of lining up some of the brilliant folks who helped make "Animaniacs" a success, funny people like Sherri Stoner, Deanna Oliver, Paul Rugg, John McCann, Alfred Gimeno, John McClenahan, Joey Banaskiewicz and others.  

Then, about a month after the initial pitch,  Sam Register was hired by Warner Bros. to be the executive in charge of Warner Bros. Television Animation, where he would be reporting directly to division prez Peter Roth.  Sam had his own plans for the Looney Tunes characters.  Soon after he arrived on the scene, my green-lit pilot became un-green-lit.  

Elmer has the title role and Quick Draw McGraw plays his equine sidekick in this movie parody from "Mixed Nutz," an animated TV series pitched to Warner Bros. by Tom Ruegger back in 2008.

"Mixed Nutz" was canceled before it could even get started.  

And I never heard another word from anyone at Warner Bros. 

Anyway, this post, and the subsequent posts about "Mixed Nutz," can be filed under the category "The Cartoon Shows that Never Were #2."  

Snagglepuss, Daffy, Yogi and Bugs in a spoof of "South Park" from "Mixed Nutz" (2008), an animated TV series pitched to Warner Bros. by Tom Ruegger.  


  1. To think that this idea was just recent, and that we're being/going to be bombarded by unnecessary CGI/live-action movies (and sequels) of Yogi, Tom and Jerry, Bugs, Pepe le Pew, Speedy Gonzales and God-knows who really sums up one thing about Warner Bros. at this moment in time:

    This Sam, and whoever else was hired round the same time, is a complete and utter 100% SCHMUCK. A Dullard, a Simpleton, a Moron, an Ignoramus, an Imbecile, a Half-wit, a Nitwit, a Dimwit...

    In short a full-blown *idiot* to turn down such a wonderfully fun and hopeful idea such as this.

    Tom, if it could be made possible, I'd vote for you to go Independent and set up your own company. At this rate, I doubt that WB would be worth anymore effort if they throw back the good fish and wind up over-exploiting the simple Paedocypris...

  2. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Chris. I will keep plugging away...and hopefully help make some great cartoons with a studio that's ready to have some fun.

  3. Given Yogi's early con-man persona, it would have made sense for him to team up with Bugs Bunbny, especially with some of the same people at Warners writing for HB by 1959.

  4. It makes me sad, that this never was made...

    Were you going to let your Kenny substitute die?

    ...Poor Daffy...^^

  5. When I first saw the Yogi Bear live-action movie trailer, my FIRST thought was of one of the pictures you had done for this pitch: Yogi tied to a giant firework while Bugs lit the fuse.

    I said to myself, "Blowing him up is far more dignified..."

    True story.

  6. ...... I can NOT believe this didn't get made. This is like the perfect cartoon with the perfect guy to do it and I just... I just don't know anymore...

  7. My friend Kaleb had a similar concept, but, it was just a concept. This is a great idea! I could see this being funnier than what is premiering in 9 days thanks to Sam Register. (The Looney Tunes Show)

    Some of the preview clips were sort of funny, but, annoying. They aren't even utilyzing an orchestra. (though the website plays a really nice jazzy version of the Merry Go-Round broke down.

    By the way, great drawings.

  8. Adults would be a lot more excited than kids about seeing LT and HB characters together, but I can see this working. Would've been a much better comeback for Yogi Bear, that's for sure.

  9. Here's Register in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

    "As the studio, we have a lot of investment in making these characters stay relevant... The interest is waning."

    Wow. "Waning"? Rule No. 1 of marketing is—never diss your product's performance to the press. First of all, regardless of whether interest is actually waning or not, how good does this statement make the brand look to licensees?

    Second of al: what if someone points out the real reason "interest is waning," and it's your own fault? Like, say, the way Warner let CN spend six years badly mismanaging an exclusive Looney Tunes brand—even keeping it off the air to avoid the "embarrassment" of it out-rating their newly-produced product.

    We don't want evergreen properties... they might disprove the idea that newer is better! Well... short-term good, long-term bad.

  10. Thanks for the link to the article

    He also said:

    "We knew we had to tell bigger stories and longer stories to get more characters involved."


    The way to get more characters involved in a story is to make it longer and bigger?

    Where do we enroll in the story-writing class that came up with this new maxim?

    Can't there be a bigger longer story with just a few characters?


    You could get more characters involved by
    telling smaller shorter stories, but telling more of them.

    They probably should not have allowed the execs to open their mouths. Next time, let the cartoons and the characters speak for themselves.

    One of the angles I always had about Bugs and Daffy and crew is that they are so vivid that they are basically alive...let them handle their own press releases.

    If I had been in charge of press for a Looney Tunes show, Bugs and Daffy would be ripping on each other and they would be ridiculing the no-nothing execs who have been involved, not only downplaying the involvement of the execs but also forgetting and/or mispronouncing the names of the execs.

    1. In the looney tunes show, I wasn't a fan of the sitcom format especially with plots that have been done in other sitcoms before I also think the humor is pretty weak, there's no slapstick and when there is it's pretty downplayed and most of the jokes revolve around Daffy and Lola's stupidity (btw Daffy isn't stupid)

  11. Yeah, I can totally imagine Yosemite Sam getting all fired up at the audience, threatening them to watch, but then Porky coming along, excusing Sam and asking politely.

  12. It's so unfortunate that stupid executives with no concept of entertainment, art, or reality for that matter, can ruin such great ideas and run, not one, but two excellent franchises into the ground.

  13. Tom,

    This is a toon fanatic's dream come true. Unfortunately, as you noted, Sam "Cash" Register showed up, and, well, how in the blue hizell did he convince them to nix your idea?

    Don't give up. It may still work!

  14. Sweet Celestia! This is the best idea I ever heard! Why did Sam Register have to pull the plug on it? I don't see why he couldn't do this and the Looney Tunes show.

  15. The guy who nixed the project was probably worried about a) offending somebody, b) "religious reasons" or c) his image/position. To quote Ian Mcdiarmid: "beauracrats, the true rulers of the republic" I think your idea had real potential

  16. Funnily enough I used to remember having a VHS tape that contained a crossover where Yogi and Bugs met. Thus was when I was really little back in the early 90's but my parents told me the cartoon never happened

  17. The "Shrek" and "South Park" parody shots are pretty fascinating to see.

  18. Two things to say about this:
    1. Considering that Warners has held the rights to HB since 96, and considering you worked at both, WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG TO PITCH IT? This would have been a slam dunk for real.

    2: Hopefully someone can dust this off and get it rolling. Would be better than watching WBA pump out Scooby movie after Scooby movie. (By the way, there should be a bigger push for Scooby's 50th, but that just shows how badly Warner has been mismanaging the brand)