Janine, 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.”
J. 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.”
Her 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.”
Backward 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.
The 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.
“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!”