ANIMATION ANECDOTES
March 10, 2017 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #304

ferngully_the_last_rainforest_ver2Disney Interferes. Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992) co-producer Wayne Young claimed in an interview in the Sunday Telegraph June 28, 1992, that Disney tried to stall and undercut the making of the animated feature film. When they tried to house their key production staff in a Los Angeles building, Disney rented it from under them. That happened no fewer than three times.

Disney also stated that any animator who left Disney to join the Ferngully production would not ever be welcomed back.

“I don’t think Disney is easily intimidated by a few of us from Australia coming in and making a film,” said co-producer Peter Faiman. “but it was one they took seriously and correctly so, because Ferngully does show that an animated movie of high quality and box-office appeal can be made outside the Disney kingdom.

“The people at Disney are extremely impressed by what was achieved. (Director) Bill Kroyer was contacted by a number of senior Disney executives and congratulated. They were very impressed.”

Faiman flew many of the animators who drew the over one million drawings for the film to Lamington National Park on the NSW-Queensland border so they could get a better look at what they were drawing.


Familie Feuerstein: I Yabba-Dabba-Do!Pebbles Gets Married. I Yabba Dabba Do! (1993) was a TV movie special where The Flintstones characters Pebbles and Bam-Bam get married. Animated caricatures of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera appear at the bar at the wedding at the end. The film was inspired by the success of the Steve Martin remake of the film Father of the Bride (1991). Actress Megan Mullally was the voice of the grown up Pebbles and Jerry Houser spoke for Bamm-Bamm.

As part of the promotion, famous designer Oscar de la Renta was brought in to design the wedding gown. De la Renta said a “nice check” went off to an orphanage he sponsored in the Dominician Republic. “It was a great treat,” laughed the designer to USA Today. “I thought ‘I’ve finally made it’.”


Early Tales of Wilhite. Tom Wilhite (who was then the twenty-nine year old vice president of motion pictures at Disney) in the June 11, 1982 issue of the Cedar Rapids Gazette newspaper pointed out he got his start when “I once met Groucho Marx through a Marx Brothers film festival. I arranged to have him come to Iowa State (University) as part of the film festival. Groucho helped me get my first job in a public relations agency (Rogers & Cowan).”

Tom Wilhite in 2002

Tom Wilhite in 2002

In 1977, Wilhite moved to Disney where he was director of creative affairs. Six months later he was made vice-president of creative development and then promoted a year later.

At the time, he was excited about Tron (1982) that was to come out that summer. “Tron is the first feature film to use computer generated graphics. It’s going to eventually revolutionize all the special effects movies. We are also conscious of the traditional image of the company, one of fantasy, escapism and optimism. We’re beginning to go back to the basics, to taking chances, to doing innovative new projects.

“Of course, not all our films are going to be first-of-a-kind pictures — it’s impossible to do a series of films and have all of them be different. But within that framework, we want to build up the Disney reputation as not just children’s films that parents are dragged along to see. We want to have a wide variety — appeal on a number of levels to a wide audience. Traditionally, that’s what the company has meant.”

Wilhite revealed that for CBS television, Disney was developing a series of specials that would adapt the other Mary Poppins stories and “Fast Forward” about a family thirty years in the future. He also mentioned that the upcoming Disney Channel was specifically designed to be a “comprehensive channel with children programming during the day and adult programs at night. The whole package is aimed at a wide viewing audience.”


Don-Hahn_headshotHahn Talks Katzenberg. In the Wall Street Journal for May 16,1994, animation producer Don Hahn said, “If someone from another part of the company comes in and tries to make us do something that doesn’t put the movie first, (Jeffrey Katzenberg) turns venomous. Even we are not safe. He keeps hammering away on the theme. It’s always ‘What’s this about?’ I’ve never seen someone so seduced by animation.”


mel-blanc-500Freleng Tribute to Mel Blanc. In Daily Variety for August 10, 1989, animator and director Friz Freleng remembered voice artist Mel Blanc who had passed away in July: “Mel had the ability to give each character a distinct and separate personality. Mel was not just a voice actor; he was a fine actor. I often wonder if we had used any other actor than Mel would those characters have been as successful? He will never die. He will live on through his voices of these characters for eternity. He will be missed by his widow Estelle and his son Noel, but the world will still have him.”


chuck100Chuck Jones Speaks. Chuck Jones, interviewed in Business Screen magazine (Aug/Sept 1982) said, “When we finished a picture at Warner Brothers, we would always run it as a pencil test to see if it worked without sound, music, color or anything else. Then you could see the beauty of the movement. All of our stuff was ‘block-booked’. This was an advantage because the pictures were sold before they went out. We had the chance to experiment with different characters. It was an enormous advantage – and it developed stars.”


alf-flag_libertyJust One Frame. In the August 12, 1989 issue of TV Guide an article was devoted to an episode of the Saturday morning animated series ALF where a viewer had discovered a one frame image of the Statue of Liberty in front of an America flag during a battle sequence of two spaceships. With the help of a TV Guide reporter, viewer Ken Sobel followed up the mystery and discovered that Studio Korumi in Tokyo that was doing the work for DIC had added it as way to liven up a boring workday and as a tribute to a famous Japanese animator who was widely known for “throwing joke frames into his cartoons”.

17 Comments

  • Again I ask, why didn’t Sally Struthers (the original voice of Pebbles Flintstone) and Jay North (the Original voice of Bamm Bamm Rubble) reprise their roles or get a cameo voice over role on I Yabba Dabba Do?

    And on Friz Freleing’s tribute to the late Mel Blanc: it’s true Mel may be gone but the vo-sfx that he did still lives on – including his famous “Chicken Scream” (first used in the Looney Toons short Each Dawn I Crow) which was used in Disney’s Mulan and most recently in Moana, where HeiHei the Rooster screamed.

  • Not being overly familiar with the Alf series, does anybody know which specific episode they’re talking about with the Statue of Liberty frame?

    • I think it was the episode where Gordon and his pals enlisted in the Melmac Orbit Guard, to battle the renegade Larson Petty’s attempt to conquer the planet.

    • I think that was the very first episode of the series (called “The Phantom Pilot”).

  • Before I became a cartoon writer/producer, I started out in the post-production editorial departments of both Ruby-Spears and subsequently Hanna-Barbera circa 1980-82. Keep in mind that, back then, everything was done on 35mm film. One of my jobs was to assemble the animation film footage shot overseas into full cartoons and synching the footage up with the soundtrack which had been recorded and transferred to mag film nine months earlier. I had to remove what we called “flash frames” (frames where the cameraman had made and error and covered over the error with a double exposed error slate) and other anomalies like characters missing mouths or limbs for a frame or two, that sort of thing. Overseas animation studios were ALWAYS inserting joke frames into the footage and my job was to remove them as well. Sometimes they would animate entire joke sequences. In one “Kwicky Koala” cartoon, they animated the wolf catching Kwicky and biting his head off. In one “Popeye” cartoon (from “The All New Popeye Hour” – Hanna-Barbera 1979-80) , Bluto pulled down Popeye’s pants to reveal a rather huge male organ with an anchor tattooed on it. It lasted about 30 frames. They were ALWAYS doing stuff like that, and my job was to catch it and remove it before it ended up in the final print. The frame left in Alf was simply something that got past a tired (or lazy) film editor working on a tight deadline, and he missed seeing it and removing it. No subversive, subliminal message. No real point. Just overseas animators goofing around to relieve their boredom, just as they always did .

    • Does this “Flash Footage” still exist anywhere? Sounds like some stuff worth seeing!

    • I’m sure someone, somewhere had to have saved those.
      Animators relieving their boredom…reminds me of the story (probably an urban legend) about some Disney animators producing on their off hours a scene of Mickey and Minnie doing the nasty – and Walt, after seeing it and having a bit of a chuckle, fired those responsible.
      The one instance I saw an “error slate” pop up in a cartoon was in one of those color-retraced Looney Tunes (“Daffy Duckaroo”): one frame read “3 cm N.G.”

    • Didn’t Congrove/Hall do stuff like that in their cartoons “for no particular reason” (being a British studio and all)?

    • Reminds me of the big flap some years ago when they found a naked woman on the background of one scene in The Rescuers. Don’t know why they didn’t find it earlier since the movie was 20 years old at that point.

    • The one instance I saw an “error slate” pop up in a cartoon was in one of those color-retraced Looney Tunes (“Daffy Duckaroo”): one frame read “3 cm N.G.”

      I remember one very well from U.S. Acres installment in a second season Garfield & Friends episode that just showed a slate that says “Cut/Out” featuring a strip of film with a pair of scissors cutting it in half. It was easy to spot it since I had taped that episode when it was on (and a local station just had to stick their ID bug right on the bottom right of the screen at the same time)!
      http://imgur.com/UIyDZRZ

      Reminds me of the big flap some years ago when they found a naked woman on the background of one scene in The Rescuers. Don’t know why they didn’t find it earlier since the movie was 20 years old at that point.

      The studio was slipping at that point I feel! Definitely shot the sales of that tape through the roof though!

  • That naked lady in The Rescuers went undetected for 20 years because the film could only be seen in movie theaters where the image zipped by without anybody in the audience noticing. The VCR technology that allowed home viewers to pause and scrutinize films frame-by-frame didn’t exist yet.

  • Re: One frame gags: I can’t believe nobody’s made a Fight Club referenced yet. Oh well, one’s been made now. “Nobody knows that they saw it… but they did.”

    Also funny in hindsight how threatened Disney was of Fern Gully. That movie didn’t exactly clean up at the box office.

  • With the help of a TV Guide reporter, viewer Ken Sobel followed up the mystery and discovered that Studio Korumi in Tokyo that was doing the work for DIC had added it as way to liven up a boring workday and as a tribute to a famous Japanese animator who was widely known for “throwing joke frames into his cartoons”.

    I do sorta wonder which animator that was. Anyone familiar in anime may recall the famous Budweiser beer cans popping up in Macross: Do You Remember Love?

  • So great to see Ferngully in Animation Anecdote. It’s one of my nostalgic memories that’s rare to find in the Scandinavian market with the Danish dub I’m used to hear. Of course, Preben Kristensen is the same dubbing voice actor for Robin Williams as in Aladdin (1992) and other animated features with the same connection

  • There’s a Japanese cartoon called Machine Robo: Revenge of Chronos that had little single-frame gags like this. It was based on the toyline that was the basis for the GoBots in America (but is otherwise unrelated to the Hanna-Barbera cartoon). One gag I remember was that you see the bottom of a robot’s foot in one frame, and it says stuff like (C) Bandai, Made in Japan just like the toy does.

    • Now that’s clever!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *