When we interviewed producer James Tucker, it seemed pretty obvious that Warner Bros. and DC's latest animated effort Batman: The Brave & the Bold was going to be picked up for a second season. Actually, all everyone was waiting for was Cartoon Network’s announcement.
CN did that yesterday, and as soon as the announcement was made Diedrich Bader, the voice of this latest interpretation of the Caped Crusader, reported to work. It was time to start recording his dialogue on this new season of episodes.
Then again, Bader was ready. He felt this was always going to be the case even before the show made its debut last year.
“I didn’t know until last July, when I saw the animation for the first time at San Diego Comic-Con,” the noted improv comic admits. “That’s when I realized that maybe we really had something here. The colors were so different, the animation style was so unique, I couldn’t help but think ‘Wow!’ After all, animation is such a visual medium. It’s really not about the voice actors. When I saw this I knew.”
Then again, as any fan of animation knows, the whole production process really doesn’t get going until the voice actor does his job. If the show is a hit, some credit must be given to Bader.
“I guess that’s true,” Bader says humbly, “but we do have some really talented people working on the show. So credit must also be given to them.”
But Bader earns his own stripes with some of his reads, especially when done with a straight face. Some are so hoary they’d make Adam West blush.
“I guess my favorite is still the Hammers of Justice,” Bader admits. “What’s fun is they always toss in at least one alliteration, and I’m always happy to say them. I also like to display a little drier humor for Batman. That’s something they’ve only started to spike up in the last few episodes.”
Bader feels this upcoming series of episodes will be the best yet.
“You hear so much about everybody discovering each other and learning how to work together during the first season. You know, it’s funny, but it really is true. What I think is so great about being renewed is now we have this chemistry and have the opportunity to really let the show become what it is.”
It sure does sound like the show is turning into something. One future episode will feature the latest incarnation of Bat-Mite, with Paul Ruebens voicing the role.
“He’s hilarious,” says Bader. “He’s so perfect as Bat-Mite. The fanboys of the show are just going to go out of their minds because we mess with reality in a way that just hasn’t been seen on our show. Both the script and the animation goes completely out there.”
According to informed sources, this episode features many other appearances by major players in the DC Animated Universe. As to who? The joke’s too good to waste. Suffice that they are names you will automatically recognize though.
Another episode to look forward to, at least according to Bader, already has a personal favorite. It will see the return of Will Friedle as Blue Beetle. It will also feature the introduction of Tara Strong as Huntress, Armin Shimmerman as The Calculator, Grey Delisle as Black Canary, and Ellen Greene as a newly created character called Mrs. Manface.
“Blue Beetle and Batman have a real repartee together, as does Will Friedle and I,” says Bader. “We also work on The Secret Saturdays, so we know each other really well. Will does such a great job on the show. In that one with Huntress he’s real funny and sweet and captures everything we want in the character.”
Yet Bader is having one particularly sweet perk with the role, and that’s the total adoration he gets from his son.
“He thinks it’s a total blast,” says Bader. “He really loves the show. Talks about it all the time. I mean, his dad is Batman. What can possibly be greater for him? He’s incredibly excited about it. Also, because the show is skewed younger, it’s really good for parents like myself. It’s great as both an actor and a parent to have something to share with my kid. As for my son, he gets to show me off. I mean, when you’re on the playground, what more do you have to say?”
Not much. As it was Bader had to get back in the recording booth. It sounds like we’ll be hearing a lot more of his as Batman for some time to come.
BONES TO CROSS WITH FAMILY GUY
File under the category of so weird it has to be true.
Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello reports Family Guy’s Stewie is going to appear as a hallucination in David Boreanaz’s head in the series Bones.
“David Boreanaz' Bones alter ego [Booth] will suffer a life-threatening health crisis this May that will cause him to hallucinate,” reports Ausiello.
“This is going to sound odd, but it is a completely believable event given [Booth's condition],” executive producer Stephen Nathan to EW. “It's not just a fantasy of ours. There's medical research to back up what's going on with Booth. There are conditions where you can see cartoon characters.”
The cartoon cameo will be limited to Boreanaz. “We were never going to have Stewie just walk into the lab and start talking to everybody -- that would be a bald and shameless crossover,” said Nathan. “It was always conceived to be a realistic hallucination... one that would lead us to what we wanted to do with Booth and Brennan.”
All one can add is this must be one of the reasons Fox signed Seth MacFarlane to that $10 million contract.
TELLTALE DOING WALLACE & GROMIT GAMES
Telltale Games, those wonderful people who keep Sam & Max alive, added another couple of animated stars to their itinerary, Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit.
Entitled Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, the new game series debuts at http://www.telltalegames.com. "Fright of the Bumblebees," the first of four digitally-distributed games starring the popular Plasticine duo, is available now. Subsequent installments will be delivered in May, June, and July.
In this game, players alternate between the roles of both Wallace and Gromit. They will banter with a charismatic cast of characters and tinker with Wallace's creative contraptions. Given the franchise's global appeal, Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures includes subtitles in German, French, Italian, and Spanish.
In the debut episode, "Fright of the Bumblebees," Wallace attempts to save his bumbling honey business through the growth of supersized flowers. When these giant flowers lead to an unintended consequence, giant bees, Gromit must step in to save the town from the angry swarm.
Sean Clarke, Head of Aardman Rights said: "The partnership with Telltale was a natural one. Their talent for crafting engaging adventures with humor and charm fits well with the Wallace & Gromit style, and the four games of Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures make excellent new additions to the series."
FUNIMATION STRIKES BROACAST DEAL WITH GONZO
FUNimation Entertainment and Japanese producer GDH, the parent company of Studio Gonzo, have entered into an agreement to broadcast GDH’s current and future hit series via online media distribution and to collaborate on each series DVD launch in the US.
The strategic alliance began Friday, March 20 with the action fantasy anime series The Tower of Druaga and the action horror series Blassreiter.
The collaboration will showcase English subtitled versions of GDH properties streamed via FUNimation’s website (www.funimation.com) as well as through GDH’s key video-sharing partners.
In addition, FUNimation will offer a download-to-own option for these episodes through www.funimation.com and other sites at $1.99 per episode.
“Our eventual goal is to simulcast these series online in tandem with the Japanese broadcast debut,” said Gen Fukunaga, president and CEO of FUNimation Entertainment. “We will also be working much more closely with GDH on the U.S. DVD release of the dubbed series. This coordination will enhance the success of these series in the U.S.”
”We are very excited about this strategic alliance, which enables us to deliver GDH content to US audiences much more effectively in multiple media platforms such as growing online media and traditional packaged media,” said Shinichiro Ishikawa, Executive Vice President of GDH.
CN ENTERS PRODUCTION DEAL WITH NBA
Cartoon Network announced a multifaceted partnership with the NBA to develop long- and short-form basketball-themed content across a wide variety of platforms, including online, mobile, VOD and on-air. Through this partnership and the network’s alignment with Turner Sports, this announcement continues a long-standing relationship the NBA has had with Turner Broadcasting for over 25 years.
“We’re thrilled to be teaming up with one of the world’s most preeminent sports brands,” said Stuart Snyder, president and COO of Turner Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media. “This partnership with the NBA is part of the ongoing sports strategy at Cartoon Network and is a perfect extension of our brand that will allow us to continue to create even more relevant and compelling content that speaks directly to our audience.”
“Cartoon Network represents the best in entertainment for kids and families, and new shows like My Dad’s a Pro demonstrate the kind of innovative programming we hope to produce in this new partnership,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Adam Silver.
"This collaboration is a further extension of the strong business relationship and long-term partnership we have developed with the NBA,” said David Levy, president of Turner Sports and Turner Broadcasting Sales, Inc. “The expansion of our partnership with the league speaks to the strength of our company. Whether it’s sports, kids’ entertainment or news programming, Turner delivers strong content on a multitude of platforms.”
To coincide with the NBA season tip-off in fall 2009, Cartoon Network is developing the short-form series, My Dad’s a Pro, the first of several programming initiatives to come out of the Cartoon Network/NBA partnership. The short-form series follows the children of NBA players, and explores the day to day thrills and challenges that go along with such an exciting lifestyle. The first of these episodes will premiere this fall. Also this fall, a sustained and robust basketball section will launch on CartoonNetwork.com. The customized branded environment will allow sports fans to share their passion for the game throughout the year with a mix of basketball-themed multimedia content.
EASTER BEAGLE RETURNS THIS APRIL
The classic, Emmy-nominated springtime special, It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, along with Charlie Brown All Stars are back on network television for the first time since 1982. They will air as a one-hour Peanuts special, Tuesday, April 7, 8:00-9:00 p.m., eastern, on the ABC Television Network.
In “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown,” a holiday is coming up for the Peanuts pals, and that means there’s a lot to do. Charlie, Sally, Lucy and Marcie get ready for the big day by making several unsuccessful attempts to prepare eggs for coloring -- by frying, waffle-ironing, toasting, roasting and finally making soup out of them -- while Linus insists no preparation is necessary. Not to worry, the Easter Beagle steps in to take care of everything!
In “Charlie Brown All Stars,” Charlie Brown’s team walks out on him after losing their 999th game in a row, but hope arrives in the form of an offer for a team sponsor and an opportunity to be in a real league with real uniforms. Unfortunately he learns that his sandlot crew can’t play in the real league because his players include a dog and several girls. Rather than breaking the news, he hopes that if they can win just one game, he’ll be back in business and the team won’t care about uniforms. For a while it looks as though Charlie’s Brown’s team might tie the score in the last of the ninth and go on to win. But when he tries to steal home, as Snoopy successfully did before him, he snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. To make things worse, he has to tell the gang that they aren’t going to get uniforms after all. But when the gang learns why Charlie Brown couldn’t get them their uniforms, they use Linus’ blanket to make one for him, and he winds up the hero after all.
The cast of It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown includes Todd Barbee as Charlie Brown, Melanie Kohn as Lucy, Stephen Shea as Linus, Linda Ercoli as Peppermint Patty, Lynn Mortensen as Sally and James Ahrens as Marcie. The special was created and written by Charles M. Schulz, executive-produced by Lee Mendelson and directed by Phil Roman. The music was composed and performed by Vince Guaraldi.
Charlie Brown All Stars stars Peter Robbins as Charlie Brown, Sally Dryer as Lucy, Chris Shea as Linus, Anne Altieri as Frieda, Kip DeFaria as Shermy and the umpire, Glenn Mendelson as Schroeder, Karen Mendelson as Violet, Jeff Ornstein as Pigpen, Cathy Steinberg as Sally and Lynn Vanderlip as Patty. Lee Mendelson was executive-producer and Bill Melendez was the director. The original score was composed and conducted by Vince Guaraldi.
Over the past four decades, the library of Peanuts animation has received five Emmy and two Peabody Awards. It has also received one Academy Award nomination, three Grammy nominations and 15 additional Emmy nominations.