ANIMATION ANECDOTES
January 25, 2019 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #399

Termite Terrace. The Hollywood Reporter for July 23rd, 1991 announced the upcoming feature film Termite Terrace, loosely based on the autobiography Chuck Amuck by Chuck Jones about Warner Bros. legendary animation crew during the Golden Age. It would be a live-action comedy from a screenplay by Charlie Haas and directed by Joe Dante. Mike Finnell would be producer for Warner Brothers. Chuck Jones was to oversee the original animated sequences.

You can attempt to read the full script if you sign up for a free trial of SCRIBD – click image below.


Lambie. From the October 15, 1941 issue of PM (the New York City daily): “Television and Botany Wrinkle-Proof Ties and young Douglas Leigh, the dapper animated sign designer have done something very amusing. The first sample of their handiwork was telecast over WNBT, the NBC television station last night at nine and will go on nightly at the same time.

“Botany’s lamb (which is really the Botany trademark animated) last night gamboled into an 80 second sketch that showed a robber holding up the lamb, out for a stroll in the park. But the only one of Lambie’s possessions that the footpad wants is his nice Botany tie. All of this, last night, was a rather non-sequiturish prelude to what followed which was Lambie’s weather predication for today: Cloudy.

“All told, there are 14 of these sketches. This is a first venture into television for 31-year old, southern-born Douglas Leigh who has long ago made his mark on Broadway. Leigh, a diffident little pioneer who wears bow ties (not Botany yet) is the creator of the Wilson Whiskey animated electric sign on Broadway and 46th St. Another Leigh sign familiar to all Broadway rubber-neckers is the Coca-Cola weather annunicator at Columbus Circle.

“A typical Leigh-Botany lamb sketch starts off with Lambie hanging his tie on the washline (to show it’s washable) only to see it blown away in a rain storm. A dog picks it up on the ground, worries it and then gets into a tug of war with another pooch. Prognosis: Rain.

“In these sketches, Lambie has just the treble voice you’d expect. It took some searching to find the idea voice for the part but Leigh and Botany finally came up with Charita Bauer, a teen-age actress recently on Broadway in The Women as Margalo Gilmore’s daughter. She was one of the few characters in the play you liked.”

For more about this article and “Lambie” – see Don Yowp’s Tralfaz blog.


Simpsons Score. From The Hollywood Reporter November 6, 1997, composer Alf Clausen of The Simpsons stated: “I’m always thinking that there’s no style of music that we haven’t touched. Until we go into the next spotting session. Then it’s ‘D’oh! Forgot about that one’.

“A bandleader friend of mine once said, ‘You can’t vaudeville vaudeville’ meaning in the case of The Simpsons when you’ve got a setup that’s incredibly funny to begin with, music won’t comment effectively if it’s played funny. But if it’s played seriously, you pull in the audience and end up hitting them with an even bigger punch line.”


Wisdom of Groening. In a 1991 issue of TV Guide, The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening said, “I’m always amazed that more people haven’t made that connection between Homer Simpson and Archie Bunker.”

“We can be as realistic as we want to be and then go careening off into long extended fantasies and people will buy it. The Simpsons is spared from being burned in effigy because we take on everybody. To me, normality is the struggle to be normal. The Simpsons fail miserably every time. That’s what makes them funny.”


Nick Park. In December 1995 with the release of A Close Shave, animator Nick Park told U.K. reporter Caroline Westbrook, “We thought it would be really good to have some romance in it for once because there haven’t been any women in the cartoons so far. We’ve only ever had three characters, and two of them have been a dog and a penguin.

“When people ask why they are so successful that’s something I find very, very difficult to answer because I’m so close to it all. I think it has a lot to do with characters and the depth of the character. There is a lot of merchandise like Wallace and Gromit boxer shorts, fridge magnets, t-shirts, watches, notepads and such. I do mind and I do have the right of veto on all the items but it’s very hard to make films without it. They are very expensive and I don’t want to worry about the money.

“It would be nice to be nominated (for an Oscar) but when you win, you’re so nervous that you’d rather be anywhere else at that time, because when you go up there, you know that every face you’ve ever seen in Hollywood will be watching you. Last time, I didn’t even write a speech before hand. I waited until I got there and wrote it on the back of the ticket.”


Nightmare Ned. From The Hollywood Reporter November 6th, 1997, composer Steve Bartek who had worked steadily as composer Danny Elfman’s orchestrator was working on his first animated cartoon score for the television series Nightmare Ned (1997) said: “It’s tough work, sometimes painful work. Working with Danny on film scores, you work hard to get something done, and then it’s over. In TV, you work hard to get something done, then you immediately start over again.

“For Ned I’m getting to write more music and more types of music than I’ve written in years and at each recording session I have the privilege of having twelve to fifteen of the best musicians in town playing my stuff. That’s a hugely satisfying payoff.”


John Musker. In Cinemagic #33 (1986), co-director of The Great Mouse Detective (1986) John Musker said, “Other studios pour all their creativity into story, layout and design. The animation is just ‘move it around a little’. Stylistically, this film is much broader than the last few films I’ve worked on. It’s more cartoony than Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron and even Rescuers. It’s closer to the flavor of Wind in the Willows and Song of the South as far as the feeling of caricature. It’s simpler. Our attempt was to create characters who were easier to draw and construct, and who could afford more caricature in their expression.”


Angry Beavers. In 1997, producer Mitch Schauer of Angry Beavers (1997) said, “You really have to think about the beavers as human beings in beaver suits. They are angry because cartoons are typically soft – everyone’s happy. I just went in the opposite direction.”

8 Comments

  • Termite Terrace would have worked wonders today as an indie project (ala’ Walt before Mickey).

  • Charita Bauer (voice of Lambie) later starred in “Guiding Light” on radio and TV for some 35 years.

  • Botany? As in “Monty Hall’s wardrobe provided by Botany 500”?

    • I’m thinking that too!

  • Termite Terrace NEEDS to be dusted off by Netflix or Amazon. I would totally watch it.

    • I agree! I(But given that it’s Chuck, it may have a skewed story..)

  • Steve Bartek spent time in the famous psychedelic band, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and wrote some of their songs.

    • Coincidentally, The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s most famous hit, “Incense And Peppermints”, was featured in an episode of The Simpsons, where we see Homer experiencing his first post-60’s acid trip.

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