Archive for the ‘Genre: Animation’ Category

Ay Caramba! “The Simpsons” start Season 23 and Bart’s still 10

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Though Bart remains 10 years old, The Simpsons begins its 23rd season Sunday, September 25th on FOX. Not just the longest-running animated program in American television history, The Simpsons is also the longest-running American sitcom, and beat out Gunsmoke to become the longest-running primetime, scripted series.

The brainchild of Matt Groening, The Simpsons originally appeared as a series of animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. Executive Producer James L. Brooks liked the popular shorts, which were then developed into a stand-alone, half-hour program and debuted as such on December 17, 1989. Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith), Maggie, Marge (Julie Kavner) and Homer (Dan Castellaneta) hit the big-time that night and have reigned on FOX ever since.

The show at times stirs up controversy for its portrayal of a dysfunctional, but loving family, and not only cemented the phrase “D’oh!” into the minds of millions, but also launched dozens of other catchphrases. From “Don’t have a cow, man!”, “Ay Carumba!”, “Eat my shorts!” and “Cowabunga!” The Simpsons has its own vernacular that continues to penetrate pop culture. Nancy Cartwright’s interview (she voices Bart Simpson, Ralph Wiggum, Nelson Muntz, Todd Flanders, Kearney, and Database) is now available online. As Mr. Burns would say as he craftily twiddles his fingers, “Excellent.”

Cartwright was originally going to audition for the role of Lisa, but when she saw Bart Simpson described as “Ten years old, school-hating underachiever and proud of it”-  she knew that was the role she wanted:

On Bart Simpsons’ memorable catchphrases:

On how she differentiates between similar characters (“Nelson” v. “Kearney” and “Ralph” v “Todd Flanders”):

On how people who criticize the show respond when they find out she plays Bart:

On The Simpsons‘ place in American pop culture:

About this interview:

In her Archive interview, Nancy Cartwright describes how she got her start as a voiceover artist. Active in speech club in high school, she discovered her talent with voices and pursued Communications in college, first at Ohio University, then at UCLA, to be closer to the industry. She recalls training with acclaimed voiceover artist Daws Butler, her first professional job on Richie Rich, and her on-camera work as a guest actor on Cheers and as the lead in the television movie, Marian Rose White. Cartwright then details her work on The Simpsons, originally a series of sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show. She recalls going in to audition for the part of “Lisa Simpson” and walking out with the role of “Bart Simpson.” Cartwright outlines the recording schedule of the show, other characters she voices, expanding the show to a half hour program, her Emmy win for Outstanding Voiceover Actor, and her favorite episodes.  She also comments on other shows to which she’s contributed (Rugrats, Kim Possible) and speaks of her extensive charity work. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on March 17, 2011 in Northridge, CA.

Will June Foray have another shot at Betty Rubble?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

With Seth McFarlane set to reboot The Flintstones, perhaps he should take a second look at voiceover legend June Foray (best known as the voice behind Rocket J. Squirrel and Natasha Nogoodnik of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame). Foray voiced Betty Rubble for the 1960 series’ pilot presentation, but then was unceremoniously dumped! Here’s a clip from June’s Archive interview where she talks about Hanna-Barbera’s rejection of her for the original Flintstones cartoon series:

Here’s TV Squad’s take on the projected 2012 Flintstones series.

Clip of the Day: The origin of Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!”

Monday, March 28th, 2011

For the full quote, see our interview with Dan Castellaneta here.

Yabba Dabba Dooo! Joseph Barbera centennial today

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Joseph Barbera (1911-2006)

Television Animation Creator/ Producer

“I just hope they remember I was the creator of some very warm and loving, funny characters that made everybody happy and smile.”

See Joseph Barbera’s 1997 Archive Interview here.

60th Anniversary of “Crusader Rabbit”— TV’s First Animated Series

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

TV historians will tell you that “Felix the Cat” was one of the first images ever broadcast on television (when RCA broadcast a Felix doll in 1928 on experimental station W2XBS)— but it wasn’t until the late ’40s  that the first animated character was created expressly for TV.

In the late 1940s, Alex Anderson and Rocky and Bullwinkle creator Jay Ward originated Crusader Rabbit, which was test marketed in the late 1940s and appeared for the very first time on KNBH (Los Angeles) on August 1, 1950.  The cartoon series aired during the 1950-51 season on several NBC-owned and operated stations.  Crusader Rabbit featured the Don Quixote-like title character, aided by his friend Ragland T. “Rags” Tiger as they pursued adventures in serial (i.e. cliffhanger) installments.

Crusader Rabbit was voiced by Lucille Bliss, who later voiced The Smurfs‘ “Smurfette.”  The Archive of American Television interviewed both Alex Anderson and Lucille Bliss on this pioneering show.

Watch the first episode of Crusader Rabbit and listen to Anderson and Bliss discuss the show on the Archive’s show page for Crusader Rabbit.

Bugs Bunny at 70

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

The first “official” Bugs Bunny cartoon was released by Warner Bros. on July 27, 1940— “A Wild Hare,” featuring Elmer Fudd’s hopeless pursuit of Bugs.  Bugs’ first line in this cartoon?  “Eh, What’s up Doc?”  The classic theatrical shorts were produced through 1964.

In TV terms, Warner Bros. released its Looney Tunes cartoon shorts to the new medium in 1955 and they were shown on local stations in evening slots.  From 1960-62, The Bugs Bunny Show aired on ABC in prime time (where it found itself opposite CBS’ Marshal Dillon and NBC’s Laramie!).  Departing for Saturday mornings under such titles as The Bugs Bunny—Road Runner Show, the Saturday morning version became, according to Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh’s The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, the longest continuously running Saturday morning children’s program in the history of network television.

Animator Chuck Jones directed many of the classic Bugs Bunny theatrical shorts, including— “Rabbit of Seville,” and “What’s Opera, Doc?”  He was interviewed by the Archive of American Television on June 17, 1998.

“What’s up, Doc?’ is now known as a funny line.  It wasn’t funny. It’s only funny because of the situation.  You put it in human terms:  you walk up to the front room, the door is partly open, there’s some guy shooting into your living room.  So what do you do?  You run if you have any sense.  The least you do is call the cops.  But what if what you do, you come up and tap him on the shoulder and look over and say, ‘What’s up, Doc?”  You’re interested in what he’s doing.  It’s ridiculous.  That’s not what you say at a time like that.  So, that’s why it’s funny I think.  In other words, it’s asking a perfectly legitimate question, in a perfectly illogical situation.”

— Chuck Jones

Peanuts Animator Bill Melendez Has Died

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Bill Melendez, who was the animator for the classic Peanuts television specials, including A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, has died at the age of 91. In his early career, he worked on numerous Walt Disney animated features from the 1940s.

His Archive interview will be online soon and can be seen at Academy headquarters.

Interview Description:

Bill Melendez spoke about his early years at Walt Disney Studios and later at Warner Bros., where he animated cartoons featuring popular characters including Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. He also discussed his work for United Productions of America and John Sutherland Productions. Next, Mr. Melendez described his early collaboration with comic strip artist Charles M. Schulz on commercials featuring the Peanuts characters, and explained how that became a career-long partnership on over fifty animated Peanuts television specials. He discussed in detail some of those projects, including A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. He also touched on the various Peanuts feature films and television series, including the animated miniseries This is America, Charlie Brown. Finally, Mr. Melendez spoke of other projects he has produced through his production company, including the animated The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, as well as animated specials featuring comic strip characters Garfield and Cathy.

MSN Entertainment Celebrates 60 Years Of Emmy

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

MSN and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences are presenting classic clips from 60 years of the Primetime Emmy Awards. Additionally, Emmy winners who have been interviewed by the Archive of American Television share their stories about their Emmy-winning work and their experiences on Emmy night.

Click here to access dozens of clips posted on MSN.

Below are three of the video pieces: Doris Roberts discusses her work on Everybody Loves Raymond and her Emmy acceptance speeches, Joseph Barbera talks about pitching Huckleberry Hound and what winning the Emmy meant to him, and Tim Conway & Harvey Korman talk about their work together and comedic Emmy appearances.

Emmy Archive: Doris Roberts
Emmy Archive: Doris Roberts

Emmy Archive: Joseph Barbera
Emmy Archive: Joseph Barbera

Emmy Archive: 'The Carol Burnett Show'
Emmy Archive: 'The Carol Burnett Show'

"The Jetsons" Turns 45!

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

On September 23, 1962, following the success of The Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera’s animated sitcom The Jetsons premiered as one of the first color television programs on ABC. Hard to believe, but only 24 “classic” episodes were made at that time — another 50+ episodes were later created in the 1980s.


The Creation of “The Jetsons” – From Part 5 of Joseph Barbera’s 7-part interview

When the network came in and said, “You want to do another show.” It’s not particularly brainy to say, “Well, with stone age [The Flintstones] here, let’s go into the future there.” So we started on that basis. And what I did was I created a living quarters that were based actually on the remnants of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. And there’s still a couple of those buildings left on the way in from the airport. Circular buildings up on a taff. So I converted those to apartments with hydraulic lifts in case the smog was up there, you would just lift the apartment above. What I was doing looking into the future. This is what we can do in the future. Now the same thing applied to parking. Parking that’s a problem of the future. A problem right now. So in that particular show, what we did in parking for The Jetsons, when he came into a stop, and pressed button, his vehicle became a briefcase that he carried. Later on I converted where it became a box like a shoe box that fitted into a slot like a lsafety deposit box. Here’s my parking space right here. So the idea was to make life easier and smoother and more interesting. His job was to simply go in in the morning and sit down and press one button. Anything easier than that? … That’s future living — parking, and buying clothes. Like the way I had it in The Jetsons is you stand behind the board, and you flash the clothes on the screen below you. Well you can see your dress before you buy it or your suit, or something like that. And you don’t have to try it on even or put it on. I had the sky crowded with vehicles just like it is today, except there was long lines. And they pick up on this because there’s a highway with no crowd on it, and you cut over there and in two seconds, they gridlock again. So that’s about the way I handled that stuff.


Full interview description:

Joseph Barbera discussed his start as a young animator at the Van Beuren Studios in New York, before his move to California and MGM’s cartoon studio. He recalled working for executive Fred Quimby, and his eventual partnership with William Hanna at MGM. This collaboration with Hanna ultimately led to their own cartoon production company, and Barbera shared many stories about the creation of some of their more memorable characters and shows including: Tom and Jerry, Quick Draw McGraw, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Top Cat, The Jetsons, and The Smurfs. The Archive of American Television interview was conducted in 1997 by Leonard Maltin and Sunny Parich.

Click here to access the entire 7-part interview.

"The Simpsons" Hits the Big Screen

Thursday, July 26th, 2007


After years and years of gossip and teasers about a Simpsons feature film, the time has come! This weekend marks the opening of The Simpsons Movie — marking the iconic television series’ transition to the big screen.


In 2003, the Archive of American Television interviewed James L. Brooks, the executive producer of The Simpsons. In the interview parts 9 and 10, he speaks in-depth about the creation of The Simpsons.

Click here to access James L. Brooks 11-part interview.

Interview description:
James L. Brooks was interviewed for five-and-a-half hours (in two sessions) in Bel-Air, CA. Mr. Brooks spoke of his early days as a page at CBS – working his way up to the newsroom. After working in documentaries, Brooks turned to comedy, where he wrote scripts for Hey Landlord, The Andy Griffith Show and My Three Sons before co-creating (with Gene Reynolds) Room 222. In 1970, MTM Productions teamed Brooks with Allen Burns, where they created and produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show. They were also producers on the spin-off series Rhoda, Phyllis and Lou Grant. After leaving MTM, Brooks produced Taxi, The Associates, and The Tracy Ullman Show. Mr. Brooks also talked about the craft of writing and producing for television and his continuing work as executive producer on The Simpsons. The two-part interview was conducted by Karen Herman on January 17 and February 12, 2003.

Also available, is a full interview with Phil Roman, the founder of Film Roman, which currently oversees the animation of The Simpsons.