September 29, 2017 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #331

Jafar’s Song. From the New York Times November 8, 1992: The soundtrack of Jafar’s song “Why Me?”, a campy and dramatic exploration of the character’s past failures, was running with scenes only roughly amimated almost derailed Disney’s animated feature Aladdin (1992).

“My problem,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg “is that you literally stop the movie to say ‘O.K. we’re going to do a song.” Over the next four months the question of Jafar’s song became a major concern.

“Why Me?” was Alan Menken and Tim Rice’s second attempt to write a song for this particular scene. The first song that they had written for Jafar entitled “Humiliate the Boy” hadn’t worked either. Over the next month, new lyrics for “Why Me?” were offered and discarded. The scene was tried in front of an audience without music. “It worked great,” said animation president Peter Schneider after the screening, “except you sort of miss a song there.”

Yet another song was ordered with a suggestion to consider just doing a reprise of an existing song “Prince Ali” with new lyrics. “It’s June 10th,” said Schneider. “We’re supposed to be finished animating.” Instead the problems with Jafar’s song had delayed completing that sequence. Rather than artists animating to the soundtrack, Menken and Rice were trying to write a song to fit the animation. After several more speedbumps, the reprise of “Prince Ali” won out. The problems with the four-and-a-half minute segment put the movie dangerously close to missing its November deadline.

Joe Barbera. In the Collector’s Advantage magazine for Winter 1992, animation producer Joe Barbera said, “ There’s a strong demand for the classic cartoon characters, together with a demand to meet the people who created them. In Berlin, where we premiered a Tom and Jerry feature, the reception was gigantic – 3,000 people giving a standing ovation. Just because they love Tom and Jerry, and all the other stuff we’ve done. So I keep doing these trips and I find out what they would like to see. Someone recently asked, ‘Why can’t we see more Magilla Gorilla?’ I can give you more Magilla Gorilla. Another one asked about Jonny Quest. They keep asking for these cartoon characters so what I’m doing right now is developing material based on those characters.”

The Simpsons. In the October 10-23, 2016 issue of TV Guide magazine The Simpsons show runner Al Jean said, “Jim Brooks has always been adamant that we take all points of view and never talk down to anybody. The idea that a Republican candidate for president would talk about the size of his penis during a televsion debate is beyond anything we would have come up with in the writers’ room.”

June Foray Meets Jay Ward. In an interview with June Foray by Shel Dorf in Comics Buyer’s Guide #323 (January 25, 1980), she said:

“I was very well established doing voices for animation in 1958. My agent called and said, ‘Have you ever heard of a guy named Jay Ward?’ and I said I had never heard of him in my life. ‘I haven’t either,’ said my agent. ‘He has an idea for a show and he wants to hire you. But he wants to do a demo to sell the show and he wants to take you to lunch.’ So Jay Ward called me and we went to lunch at Tail of the Cock on La Cienega Boulevard. I’m not used to drinking heavily and especially at noon.

June Foray and San Diego Comic Con co-founder Shel Dorf at Chuck Jones studio in Los Angeles, 1978. Photo by Alan Light.

“Well, before lunch, he said, ‘Oh, have a martini’. So we had a martini and then we had two martinis. By this time I was absolutely smashed and I said, ‘Jay, anything you want is fine with me’. He was such a charming guy and the ideas sounded neat. So Paul Frees, Bill Scott and I went into the smallest little recording studio at Capitol Records and we did a demo.

“We didn’t hear from Jay Ward for about a year and it absolutely was obliterated from my mind. I was so busy working I didn’t even think of Jay Ward. And then, about a year later, my agent called and said, ‘You know this fellow Jay Ward for whom you did a demo? Well, they’re ready to go on the series. We’re going to be at Glen Glenn (recording studio) Friday night at five o’clock.’

The Wisdom of Chuck Jones. In the New York Times August 9, 1992, animator and director Chuck Jones said, “You can’t write down to children which we wouldn’t have done at Warners even if we had known how. We didn’t know who we were making (the cartoons) for so we more or less made them to amuse ouselves. In that sense, they were absolutely made for adults who were watching them in theaters with films like I Was a Fugitive from a Chain Gang and Little Caesar. The quality of today’s animation constitutes a terrible disservice to children. If a child is raised to believe that evil is always big and ugly and good is always small and cute, then what do they as adults do with The Hunchback of Notre Dame or with The Elephant Man?”

What Killed Kricfalusi’s Beany and Cecil? In the Los Angeles Times Calendar section for August 9, 1992 animator Bob Camp recalled one of the reasons that Kricfalusi’s version of an animated Beany and Cecil television series (The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil, 1998) was cancelled suddenly after just five episodes aired. Basically, Kricfalusi and his crew, that included Camp, tried to slip in things that hadn’t been previously approved by ABC.

At the end of one episode, Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent was singing and Beany boy came floating by in a big washtub. Cecil leaned down and sniffed real hard, and Beany shot up his nose. Then Cecil turns and blows Beany’s clothes out and they float down the river.

“I was standing in the editing room when the ABC people saw (that scene) for the first time,” said Camp. “Nobody expected it, including me. That was wonderful to see the looks on the faces of the ABC executives when they saw it. They screamed and their eyes bugged out. ‘What is that? What was that? That’s not in the storyboard!’”

In case you missed it, here’s a sample of the show:


  • New Adventures with Beany and Cecil apparently had a scrapped episode called “D.J Goes Ape”, which the highlight would have been D.J being impregnated by Ping Pong the gorilla. Sounds like an…..intriguing gag for an John K.™ production (lord knows why they scrapped it….)..

    • Yeah, I doubt a national network at the time would approve of that (unless it was really snuck under their nose.

  • I remember reading that L A Times article and how the Censors of ABC (American Broadcasting Company) wasn’t too kind to John K’s/DiC’s reboot on Beany and Cecil. Guess those ABC censors didn’t had a sense of humor over a “funny cartoon”.

    • Now I wonder what did they replace B&C with since the show was yanked pretty quickly? Hopefully it wasn’t reruns of The Little Clowns of Happytown!

  • Remember that, at this time, “broadcast” television was still pretty strait-laced.
    The various departments of Standards and Practices at the major networks worked like demons to keep a weather-eye out for any deviation from “accepted norms” in regards language and content.
    These people would remember the troubles CBS had with “Mighty Mouse The New Adventures” a few years earlier. They had to walk a fine line between conservative religious types on the one hand, and pro-Socialist “mothers'” groups on the other.
    What’s more, the Children’s Television Act had become law. And while that measure didn’t have any immediate effect, it has, combined with changing economic factors, resulted in the virtual death of children’s programming, both at the local level and on the broadcast networks.

    Kricfallusi came from cable television. This was a medium with looser standards than the broadcast medium. He could get away with more on cable than he could on he networks–as he found out with “The New Adventures of Beany And Cecil”.

    • Kricfalusi didn’t start in cable TV actually, he pretty much started out in Saturday morning like everyone else. Ren & Stimpy wasn’t for another couple years unless he was doing something for a Pay TV channel I don’t remember (plus working on Mighty Mouse for Bakshi intended for CBS).

    • The straight-laceness of it all certainly was what John would rail against all the time back then, I’m sure it continued through to Nickelodeon as well.

  • I heard, based on Thad’s “Ren & Stimpy” book, that ABC hated Bakshi’s “Mighty Mouse” that aired on CBS, which John K. worked on. And since they loved “A Pup Named Scooby-Doo,” which took several cues from “Mighty,” their problem wasn’t the show, but who was making it.

    • I’m sure he was blacklisted from all the Big Three by then (unless NBC thought differently, and I’m not counting Fox here either).

    • ABC loved A Pup Named Scooby Doo?!? OMG that show should have been considered as one of the worst animated tv shows that aired on the alphabet channel along with fellow train wrecks C.O.W-Boys of Moo Mesa, Rubik the Amazing Cube, Fonz and The Happy Days Gang, Wolfrock TV, Turbo Teen, Rickety Rocket, The Flintstone Kids, Hammerman and the prime time animated series Capital Critters.

  • Did Joe Barbara seriously say the Tom & Jerry movie got a standing ovation?

    That quote from Chuck Jones in 1992 is interesting. I wonder if he ever saw Disney’s Hunchback film.

    • It could be just a cultural difference Brandon, the way characters are sometimes favored over what we have seen to be a pretty lame film back home. It wouldn’t surprise me if this tickled Joe greatly that someone out there enjoyed he and his partner’s work over the decades.

      That quote from Chuck Jones in 1992 is interesting. I wonder if he ever saw Disney’s Hunchback film.

      That’s a good question, I suppose we’ll never know unless he happened to have said something to a colleague or friend about it and they can recall for us.

  • While I agree with Chuck that you can’t always make the good guys pretty and the bad guys ugly, I really wonder which exact cartoons from 1992 he’s talking about. I mean, Ninja Turtles were still big at that time and they were no pretty boys! I think that the “good is pretty , bad is ugly” trope in fiction goes back waaaay farther than whatever cartoons Chuck happened to be not digging at that moment. Like , to antiquity. Beowulf comes to mind.

  • Thanks, Jim, for answering the question (which I wondered about at the time) of why the new BEANY & CECIL was so short-lived. Frankly, if I never saw a foot of animation featuring Kricfalusi’s puerile and juvenile attempts at humor, or his grotesque approach to character design (and especially) re-design (both trends which were mainstreamed in all of Fox’s primetime animation and most of today’s kids shows) then maybe I would then be able to generate any interest in watching most modern cartoons. I have no sympathy for his having been censored, and in fact, I think it was shamefully selfish of him that his disregard for following the rules in favor of spotlighting his great “wit” cost his entire staff of workers to lose their jobs. For me, he damaged far more than he ever contributed.

  • It’s interesting how everyone has different reasons as to why John. K’s ‘Beany and Cecil’ didn’t work out – inappropriate material, missing deadlines, creative problems behind the scenes. Personally, I’d have put it down to the pacing. Having seen most of the episodes available online, it was as though they were played in slow motion. Bob Clampett’s B&C was full of rapid-fire gags, visually and verbally, zingers all the way. But for me everything in John. K’s just felt extremely dragged out and slow. Even the 15-minute episodes suffered from this, as if they spent so long working on the animation they forgot to put in any jokes.

    However, having said that, nowadays most animated shows suffer with their pacing being too *fast* than too slow…

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