Animated Shorts - ATHF Creators on the Ascendance of Carl

AS - ATHF Creators Talk Carl

When it comes to putting out a DVD, it’s hard as heck to beat Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis, better known as the creative duo behind Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The recently released sixth volume of the subversive animated series comes not only with the last nine episodes aired, but four bonus episodes, a short live action film entitled “Terror Phone” and the interstitials from the recent video game.

Still, the coup de grace is no less than a Carl Brutananadilewski sports commentary segment under the title of “I’m Pissed.” Couple this with the recently announced recruitment drive for a live-action version of Carl, and we could be seeing the ascendancy of the ultimate Jersey boy from underground cult hero to mainstream media star.

So we had to sit down and talk this out with Willis and Maiellaro. Here’s what they had to say:

Newsarama: For starters, how do you think Carl is reacting over the Giants?

Dave Willis: [In Carl’s voice] They dropped the balls on them Eagles! That’s what you gotta do when you get to the post-season! You gotta have that sense of urgency.

NRAMA: So do you think Carl is getting the kind of attention a guy from New Jersey ought to get?

DW: [Still in Carl’s voice] Oh yeah! We had to overcome a lot with that gay governor. I’m trying to put a positive face on the Garden State.

NRAMA: What part of Jersey does ATHF happen? Is there any particular area?

DW: [Back to his own voice] It’s a New Jersey of the mind. It’s certainly not a New Jersey we’ve ever been to.

Matt Maiellaro: It’s called Hamburger, New Jersey.

NRAMA: I don’t know. I spent two months of my life in New Jersey. That’s how long it took me to find a place to move to.

MM: You obviously didn’t live over there by the cliffs, did you?

NRAMA: No. It was a wonderful town called Lindenwold…

MM: Sounds kind of like a disease or something.

NRAMA: Kinda. It was between a bunch of toxic waste dumps and shopping malls.

DW: We don’t like New Jersey. It’s just dirty and gross. We’ve never been there, but that’s just our take on it. I’ve been on the turnpike. I’ve seen enough to know. I extrapolated from the Turnpike that was all I needed to know.

NRAMA: Now getting back to Carl, have you gotten the technical problems fixed? Are you starting to get good audition tapes for the live action ATHF?

DW: Yeah! Some great ones. It took the people a couple of weeks to figure out the Internet but there have been some awesome ones. We had one guy’s who’s Mexican and can’t speak English that well. He did it all phonetically. In fact, he said “I don’t need no instructions to know how to rock”…through his English-speaking son. He’s in the running.

NRAMA: When do you think you’ll make an announcement as to who got the job?

MM: I think it won’t be until the beginning of January.

DW: Yeah. After the holidays. We got like 50 auditions up already. They say there’s like 200 but I only count about 50.

NRAMA: So they’re using transcendental math like in Dr. Who?

DW: Yeah!

MM: We’re schooled in space.

DW: What’s interesting is some guys who look perfectly like Carl aren’t the best actors. We’re looking for the complete package.

NRAMA: So you want someone who can act like Carl as well. Isn’t that a tall order for a lot of fans?

DW: Well, they will be asked to act. This is professional.

NRAMA: So you don’t think Danny DeVito or Jason Alexander can’t quite pull off Carl, huh?

MM: But Meryl Streep would.

NRAMA: She’d use her method.

DW: Or Ashley Judd.

NRAMA: So will this be an actual live action 11-minute ATHF short?

DW: It’s an episode. It’s just in live action.

MM: Bookended by some animation.

NRAMA: The how will you do Meatwad, Shake, and Frylock?

DW: Did you ever see the Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas? Something like that. Also something like Time Cop.

MM: Sort of a mix of Viva Las Vegas and Time Cop. Let’s leave it a mystery.

DW: Shrouded in a secret.

NRAMA: Getting back to Carl. I loved the “I’m Pissed” segments on the DVD. Considering the possibilities of the Giants returning to the Super Bowl, have you thought about doing more of those?

DW: Maybe. We’ll see. I’ve been doing Carl’s Lock of the Century of the Week for Scott Van Pelt’s ESPN show. It’s kind of buried deep in their site, but Carl is 10-4 on his picks.

NRAMA: That’s better than any of ESPN’s football experts!

DW: I know! I started doing it at first as just a joke. Then I started winning. Now that I’ve taken a little pride in it and, unfortunately, I’ve gotten too dogmatic. I picked the Giants even though I kind of felt the Eagles were going to make a run. Check it out. It’s somewhere on Van Pelt’s part of the site.

NRAMA: So do you see Carl sitting next to Terry Bradshaw, John Madden, or Chris Berman?

DW: As long as they let him sit on his easy chair. He can make the weekend of it.

NRAMA: One thing I admire is of the original four shows that started on Adult Swim, you are the ones that are still around. How does that feel?

DW: We feel like we’re the best. It feels good to still have a job, in this economy especially.

NRAMA: Still, did you think you’d still be around doing new episodes seven years later?

MM: We feel like we’ll be doing this 17 years later. We’re merely at the half-way point.

NRAMA: Cool.

MM: No, no. Not Cool. By that time people will be talking about how we should be cancelled.

DW: But we’ll keep going. It’s vindicating in a way. When we started it seemed like a show that no one really wanted to make.

MM: I don’t know. We’re still stunned right now. We’re glad that fans are there. We’re glad that fans watch the show. When we go to conventions, we’re glad to ask any question they ask and spend as much time with them as possible.

NRAMA: Now the new DVD has four episodes that never aired. Which ones are they?

MM: The ones with the actual characters are the new ones. That’s “Gene E,” “Shake Like Me,” “She Creature” and “Chick Magnet.” They are four of the ten we are airing this season.

DW: We like ’em.

NRAMA: Were they planned for the previous season and are just coming out now?

MM: It wasn’t by plan. When we were putting together the DVDs they said something like ‘we got nine episodes and the plan is we need 13 for a two-disk box set.’ We also thought that would be a bit of a cheat, you know? So they allowed us to tack on the four. So we had to work pretty fast. We had to work pretty fast to get them done.

NRAMA: So when will they are on Adult Swim?

DW: Starting around May. We also have “Terror Phone” on the DVD. It was a short we did. Did you see that?

NRAMA: Yes. I was both exceedingly admiring and repulsed at that gigantic boil you put and Dana Snyder and Carey Means’ faces.

DW: Yeah. We shot that thing in eight hours. We wrote it in eight minutes.

MM: We had a little extra money on the DVD budget. So we thought we’d shoot something fun. Then there’s all the stuff on the video game involving killing people. They are all the interstitial bits.

NRAMA: Who did the animation on those? They look different. Did you guys?

MM: It was people in Russia.

DW: Some Russian CGI troop. We did all the editing. We wrote it. We produced it. It was totally different from how we usually do things. We are proud of it. It was kind of a drag that you have to master that game to get to all of them.

NRAMA: So when does the new season start?

DW: April ’09 I believe. Or May, I’m not exactly sure. It will be ten new episodes including that live action one we talked about. It will feature America’s Choice for Carl.


Big Vision Entertainment and Chambers Bros. Entertainment announced an exclusive deal with music mogul Lou Adler for the animated movie rights to the classic Cheech and Chong library of recorded comedy content.

The agreement includes all theatrical, television, home video and digital rights to create an animated movie based on the “pot culture” comics’ most famous comedy bits. Eric and Branden Chambers are directing the animation. The project will be produced by Houston Curtis of Big Vision, along with Keith, Branden and Eric Chambers of Chambers Bros. Entertainment, who created the concept. In addition, Adler, Curtis and the Chambers Bros. will serve as executive producers. It will be completely financed by Big Vision Entertainment.

“Big Vision is thrilled to be working with Lou Adler, the Chambers Brothers, and of course, Cheech and Chong,” said Houston Curtis, Founder and CEO of Big Vision Entertainment. “While our expertise in both the television and home video space give us supreme confidence that Cheech and Chong’s Smokin’ Animated Movie will be a huge success in those markets, we are also excited about exploring the possibilities of a theatrical release.”

 “We feel that Cheech and Chong’s special brand of comedy appeals to multiple generations,” said Eric Chambers, partner of Chambers Bros. Entertainment. “By lending a unique animation style to these classic and timeless bits, we are able to transform the comedy into something fresh, exciting and even more hilarious than ever before.”

"It's great to be doing a movie where Cheech and I never have to get out of bed or be on-camera,” said Tommy Chong. "The fans have already shown us they love the material, and the animated bits play funnier by being able to see the character reactions. I highly suggest watching it while smoking a big fattie!"

“During this age of feature animation everywhere, it's about time that we got animated because we've been doing animation without the animation for years” said Cheech Marin, “Whether you watch it smokin’ a fattie or stone cold sober, it’s just plain funny!”

Recording industry legend Lou Adler added, “With Cheech and Chong reunited and selling out venues worldwide, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for this unique, one-of-a-kind animated feature.”

Updates and info about the project will be available for fans and press at


VIZ Media, LLC (Viz) and Warner Home Video (WHV) have reached an agreement for the home entertainment distribution in the United States and Mexico of new and catalog DVD releases from Viz. The announcement was jointly made by Hidemi Fukuhara, President and CEO of VIZ Media and Jeff Brown, WHV Executive Vice President and General Manager, TV, Family and Animation.

Effective April 1, 2009, WHV will be the exclusive home entertainment distributor for new and catalog DVD content based on well-known franchises such as Naruto, Bleach, Death Note, Inuyasha as well as the Pokemon animated television series and catalog features. The first new DVD releases from Viz and WHV are scheduled to be Naruto Uncut Box Set 13, Naruto Uncut Box Set 13 Special Edition and Hunter X Hunter Box Set Volume 2 on April 7, 2009.

Regarding the announcement, Mr. Fukuhara remarked, “We look forward to joining forces with Warner Home Video and are confident that in working with their strength in sales and distribution, we will continue to grow the anime category even more effectively than we have over the last several years. We’re very encouraged by Warner Home Video’s enthusiasm for this category and our properties and look forward to our titles reaching an even wider audience as a result of this relationship.”

Brown added, “The association between Warner Home Video and Viz Media demonstrates our continued commitment to the growing sector of anime. Adding to our previous success with The Animatrix and Appleseed: Ex Machina, we are looking forward to a successful relationship with Viz Media, one of the top players in the anime genre and children’s animation.”

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