June 10, 2016 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #266


janine-225Janine, You’ve Changed. In 1987, third-rated ABC turned to the Q5 Corp in developing Saturday morning animated series. Q5 was a consulting company made up of Ph.D.s in psychology as well as marketing, advertising and research professionals and had done some work with ABC’s prime-time offerings as well.

Jennie Trias, vice president of ABC’s children programs, stated to the Los Angeles Times on September 3, 1987, “They are a product testing group, and programs are basically a product that we want the public to buy. If it works, hopefully, we’ll succeed in getting good numbers.”

janine-title-cardJ. Michael Stracyznski who was a story editor for the animated series The Real Ghostbusters series stated, “I think that they are evil. They wanted us to knock off all the corners. Janine was a strong, vibrant character. They wanted her to be more feminine, more maternal, more nurturing, like every other female on television. It is a truly insidious organization. A lot of their research and theories are strictly from voodoo. I think they reinforce stereotypes – sexist and racist. I think they are not helping television. They are diminishing it.”

The L.A. Times article pointed out that due to input from Q5, “Last season, Janine, the secretary of The Real Ghostbusters produced for ABC by DIC Enterprises was a sharp-edged, miniskirted wisercracker with pointed glasses, dangling braclets and a fountain of spiky hair. As a result of Q5 input, she will have softer features, smoother hair, big round glasses and no jewelry. ABC will complete the package with a demure knee-length skirt.”

Janine-thru-seasonsHer voice was also softened with Kath Soucie taking over the voice role from Laura Summer. The notes on one of the new character drawings from DIC contained the notes: “generally less harsh and slutty, has a warmer, more nuturing relationship with Slimer, her face and expressions are prettier”.

“The change of Janine was not done on anyone’s gut feelings about what’s creative and what’s not creative or what’s sexist and what’s not sexist,” stated Q5’s President Thomas J. Heinz. “It’s back to how we can involve more girls when we have primarily men characters. The female was not working for the female target and we’re sorry she’s not the way she was originally designed but she’s not.”

rite_wdl500Backward Masterpiece. Igor Stravinsky was the only living composer whose work was represented in the Disney feature film Fantasia (1940). Curious about how his “Rite of Spring” composition was being handled by the Disney artists, Stravinsky visited the Disney Studio.

Walt was excited to tour the composer through the studio especially since his artists were working on that very sequence at that time. When Walt took Stravinksy to the animation department where they poked their heads through the doorway to get a candid glimpse of the work in process, they were taken aback by what they saw.

Disney Legend Woolie Reitherman who was then an animator working on the sequence recalled, “We were all taking a break. None of us was at his desk doing work. We were standing around laughing, talking, eating and drinking soda pop and generally blowing off steam. Generally, we were cutting up to Stravinsky’s music which we were playing backwards on the Moviola.”

Walt was annoyed until Stravinsky said, “Doesn’t sound bad backwards, either.”


More Secrets of The Simpsons. In TV Guide magazine (November 23-December 6, 2015), the following information was shared:

“When we started out, Jim Brooks said, ‘Let’s make this funny for the whole family’,” cartoonist Matt Groening said. “We do jokes for kids, for teen, for grown-ups. And this is shocking: There are even jokes for grown-ups who read books.”

Series regular voice artists Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner and Yeardley Smith who threatened to strike in 2004 if their paychecks weren’t doubled now earn $300,000 per episode. “To hear the same voices season after season is gratifying and comforting to our audience,” said executive producer Al Jean. “These actors are perfect in their parts, and it doesn’t matter to me what they make. If the show’s making money and we can afford what they’re asking for, great! It’s a capitalist system.”

The Simpsons air in over one hundred international markets, including Japan, Turkey and Russia to an audience of 190 million. “Dysfunctional families are universal,” said executive producer James L. Brooks.

“I think people around the world look at the Simpsons as typical Americans, so they’re actually laughing at us. But, hey, when it comes to viewers, we’ll take what we can get,” said executive producer Al Jean.

FirestarMs-Lion2The Creation of Ms. Lion. As Dennis Marks, the story editor of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends remembered it in a 2002 interview, “I heard that Marvel was starting up, and Al Brodax recommended they try me out. I wrote a couple of presentations for them and they offered me the job of Story Editor for the series they were trying to sell to NBC: “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.” I was NEVER a Spider-Man fan. I was a DC guy as a kid, mostly because my mother was a friend of Harry Donnenfeld (the D in DC!) who sent me every DC publication for a couple of years when I was 10 or 11.

Ms._Lion_1“We went to NYC for a meeting with NBC VP of Children’s Broadcasting, Mickey Dwyer, for her comments on my presentation for the show. She wanted a dog for Firestar. (I had given Firestar her name, by the way: Angelica Jones, based on an Angelica I had dated when I was a teen.) My wife had had a Llhasa Apso, a rather new breed in the States at the time. I told Mickey Dwyer about the Llhasa being the Temple Lion Dog of Tibet, and, because this was right in the middle of the feminist revolution, I said we could call the dog “Ms. Lion.”

“She smiled and said: “Perfect.” We left the meeting, my first with a network VP, and I asked David DePatie, “You think it went well?” and he replied with a very big smile, “That’s about as well as it can get, Dennis.” We had just sold the show. And it was that damn little feminist dog that sold it. Without a drawing. Without an image…for a cartoon show!”


  • I recall the feud that Filmation and DiC/Columbia Pictures had on the Ghostbusters name. Filmation wanted to a animated version of thier hit live action series The Ghost Busters from the 1970’s which starred Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch but Columbia wanted to do a animated version of the 1984 blockbuster film Ghostbusters. So Columbia (along with Toei animation of Japan and DiC) decided to rename the series The Real Ghostbusters and as we all know The Real Ghostbusters became a mega hit and Filmation’s was a flop and caused the studio to shut down and go out of the animation business.

    • Actually the Ghostbuster cartoon did ok for Filmation, as it was sold straight into syndication and they made 64 episodes! They knocked out 64 episodes of Bravestar after it.

      What killed Filmation was L’Oreal. Filmation’s owner, Westinghouse, sold the animation studio to L’Oreal, but L’Oreal wasn’t interested in making cartoons, they only wanted Filmation’s library. So once they owned it (within seconds actually to avoid a new labor law) the fired everyone and shutdown the company.

      FYI the current owner of the Filmation library is Universal Studios / Comcast.

  • Those first and last anecdotes are borderline depressing in what they reveal about the production of television animation in the ’80s.

    • Oh, they are. We forget how rather sleazy and backstabbing it all was.

  • Apparently,Mickey Dwyer,vs. Q5 Corp. would have been a heck of a battle to watch, in terms of which could force their ideas down the throats of the nation’s kiddos in the 1980s.

  • I rememebr reading that Ghostbusters article when it was published…:) 9/16/87. It mentioned a whole bunch of watered down shows for ABC…..I didn’t like it, not that I cared for the newer shows (and oddly, of course, after a second version of Pound Puppes in 1987-88, we now have – like My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake (who ironically NEVER had her own show….thank the Lord), a THIRD design as the Puppies are revived…) The response in the L.,A.Times letterrs seciton was not very flattering…..with one person (, NOT ME!!) pointing out that this change only made the already-terrible sanitiziating even worse. (The originals of the more girls based shows were showing what kind of direction from what some thought was so terrible about cartoons to the proverbial, let’s just say, opposite side…)

    • 1987 would also give us ABC’s most forgotten cartoon of all, The Little Clowns of Happytown. We all should be glad that didn’t last more than a season, though it’s tiny 10 second bad joke ditties continued to be used for a couple more years.

    • I remember the “first generation” of My Little Pony that also had the filler episodes with The Potato Head Kids (this was the only one on a famous character who ventures into parenthood by not a existing cartoon character like The Pink Panther & Popeye) and (ugh) The Glo Friends ( with the villains looking like refugees from ALF’s home planet of Melmac wearing clothing from the Medieval period and those “pushy little weenies” The Glo Wees) and replacing The Glo Friends in season 2 (Thank God) The Moondreamers.

      Strawberry Shortcake had a series of specials which included Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City which included a character named Tamale Mole who was a mole dressed in a stereotypical Mexican Bandido outfit. Strawberry Shortcake didn’t had her own series until 20 years later when DiC bought the animation and broadcast rights for Strawberry Shortcake (as well as giving her a major makeover) as well as plug in celebrating her 20th Anniversary during the 2003 Rose Parade.

      I like The original design of the Pound Puppies in the pilot episode of Pound Puppies until Hanna Barbera decided to give them a “makeover” deep sixed several characters like Scronger and Cooler’s girlfriend Gloria Vanderbuck and replaced them with Katrina her daughter Bratina adding on a new character Whopper the Pound Puppies along with having Howler speaking instead of having as a mute character making VO sound effect and turning The Nose into Nose Marie who sound a Z grade ham actress drama queen doing the WORST Scarlett O’Hara in history!

      Now The Hub (now Discover Family Channel) now brought newer versions of My Little Pony (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) Strawberry Shortcake (Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures) and a totally retooled Pound Puppies (which the characters are more realistic that the original toy line and the crew consist of a Border Collie, a Boxer, a Old English Sheepdog, a Dachshund and a Chihuahua) for a new generation of viewers to watch.

    • @Chris, even the people making The Little Clowns of Happytown were getting annoyed with the meddling of Q5.

      “They aren’t merely researching trends; they’re trying to engage in social engineering,” fumed a former story editor for ABC’s “Little Clowns of Happytown,” who asked that his name not be used. “There’s absolutely no passion with these people.

  • “Generally less harsh and slutty”? So that means that this horrific organization believes that a girl who pretty much has her own fashion statement and thinks for herself is “harsh and slutty”. I’m unfamiliar with the character, here, but why does every cartoon show have to mirror every other cartoon show? Don’t they realize that, on one hand, if a certain premise or character design is popular, that means that, eventually, it will get boring, because *EVERYONE* is dressing that way or looking that way. Only *THEN* is it time to change the character designs or premise. Micro-managing is the *ONE* and only thing that killed Saturday morning in front of the TV; no more humor, no more ground-breaking story lines, and, definitely, *NO* individuality, whatsoever!! Ah, but this sort of thing has been going on for as long as there was a Hays Code. Other filmmaking types were able to break the Code and keep their vision, but animation is still hog-tied almost to the point of suffication!

    • That was my concern too, it’s replaced individuality with this generic standard that everyone has to abide to without question. Groups like Q5 were obviously trying to undermine creativity through perceived demographics assumptions. This is the same attitude as what Mark Evanier once wrote about the problems with showing characters with different opinions or wants from the group that were being denied because a group mentality was seen as the ultimate goal.

    • Back in the day I’d catch Ghostbusters when I could; it had a pre-work time slot for a while. I recall the Janine was very briefly modeled to match Annie Potts’s look from “Ghostbusters 2”; the Rick Moranis character was also fleetingly present.

      Remember the “Janine You’ve Changed” episode. By that time I hadn’t been following closely enough to notice the evolution, but I noticed when it was pointed out in the episode.The episode explained Janine’s changes as a pathetic, anti-feminist attempt to please Egon, encouraged by an evil spirit Wonder if ABC or Q5 caught the subtext.

  • J. Michael Straczynski is an idiot if he thinks making a female character more feminine, more maternal, and more nurturing is reinforcing a stereotype. It isn’t sexist either – it’s natural law, something these egghead eunuchs in pop media will never be able to overcome, regardless of how many 30 minute toy commercials they make.

    • You’re kidding? It absolutely is.

      • I don’t have the energy to rant you out on this, but i just have to wonder, how did your comment even pass moderation?

        I know it was almost 6 years ago, but the things you were spouting were wrong then and they’re wrong now.

        And i hope you’ve changed aswell.

  • BTW
    It wasn’t uncommon for Stravinsky to write backwards, so he probably was having a private little joke on the Disney staff.

  • Here’s the article referenced in the Ghostbusters segment:

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