Matthew Hunter's Unofficial Looney Tunes Page Presents:
The New Looney Tunes
An interview with Producer Larry Doyle
This interview was originally published on the Toon Zone news site, as the first in-depth discussion of the upcoming Warner Brothers theatrical shorts published on the internet. The original interview is reprinted here, just as originally published. Thanks to the Toon Zone News editor and copyeditors, particularly Matthew Williams and Rand.
Larry Doyle is producer of the upcoming theatrical shorts, co-writer of the upcoming movie, Looney Tunes: Back In Action, and a writer for the popular animated comedy, The Simpsons.
Doyle Talks Looney Tunes
Reported By Matthew Hunter on Tue 21 Jan 2003, 12:32 PM
As previously reported, Warner Bros is in the process of creating new Looney Tunes shorts – in the tradition of the classic series of 1930-1969 – for theatrical release. Toon Zone got the chance to ask producer Larry Doyle about these new films, and how they will compare to the originals. Special thanks to Mr. Doyle for his time and in-depth responses, and Jack Tatay and the gang at Toon Zone's Termite Terrace Trading Post for their help and suggestions.
Larry Doyle: First, some general information:
We have completed or nearly completed eight six-minute shorts. Warner Brothers, as is their wont, is testing these to death before deciding where and when they will be shown, or if there will be more. In addition to the eight completed, we have three others that have completed animation and are awaiting ink, paint, music, etc. Beyond that, we will have twelve new storyboard animatics ready by the end of this month, should WB decide to continue. The guiding principle behind the shorts is to do them as if Warner Brothers had never stopped making them (the character models are based on the Robert McKimson models of the late 40s). The shorts exist in the current world, but not gratuitously so, just as they used to reflect their times. The characters and humor are the same as they were, though the targets have changed.
Toon Zone: Are there Merrie Melodies as well as Looney Tunes being made?
LD: There are no Merrie Melodies in the first eight; we do have one in the second set, featuring an original character.
TZ:. Who is doing the music, and are they going to try doing things that are in the same vien as the Carl Stalling and Franklyn scores of the classics?
LD: Walter Murphy is doing the music, using a full orchestra, in the Stalling vein. The music will mix original, classical, standard and contemporary melodies (much as the original Looney Tunes did) in a cohesive wall-to-wall score.
TZ: Who does the voices for the characters? Will usual voices like Joe Alaskey, Bob Bergen, and Billy West do their usual characters?
LD: Billy West (who, by the way, has done extensive work on his Bugs since you've last heard it) will be voicing Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd and Tweety in the shorts. Jeff Bennett is doing Daffy, Sylvester, Pepe, Sam and Foghorn. Granny is, of course, June Foray. Tress MacNeille is Petunia. By the way, we have returned to recording the voices as Mel Blanc used to, recording Porky, Daffy and Tweety in a lower register and then speeding them up. We have found that this has resulted in a much truer version of the voice. We auditioned more than 300 people from both coasts and in between for these voices, including all of the people who have done the voices previously, and believe we have chosen the actors who can best give these characters life.
TZ: Are there going to be a lot of sequels to older shorts?
LD: Not really. We're trying to not be too self-reflexive (something I think Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Space Jam and many of the recent shorts all suffered from). That said, we are doing a new Duck Dodgers.
TZ: Is the Space Jam creation Lola Bunny going to be used at all?
TZ: Is Daffy Duck going to be given his old, silly, carefree personality back, or is he more in the later 1950’s/1960’s meaner vein?
LD: Daffy is certainly a much fuller character, as he was in the late forties. He is not, however, the screwy duck of the early forties.
TZ: Are you only using the major characters, or are you going to use minor and one-shot characters like Hubie and Bertie or Michigan Frog?
LD: We've talked about bringing back some minor characters, but feel we have to service the major characters first. We would also like to eventually introduce some new characters.
TZ: Without revealing too many spoilers, what will the gags be like? Is there a particular style of humor you have been going for?
LD: It's Looney Tunes. Wise-cracking and fun visuals, not jokey and sitcommy. Obviously, morals have changes since the late forties and consequently there will be some sorts of jokes you won't see (characters blowing their brains out; characters getting charred black and doing Rochester impressions) and some they might not have done that you will see. Nevertheless, the intention is to be true to the Looney Tunes spirit and not try to turn them into the Simpsons or South Park .
TZ: Is there any particular director you wish to nod to or emulate?
Different directors used different designs. Bob Clampett’s Daffy Duck was much different from the Chuck Jones one, etc. Will the cartoons take on an already established style, or create some type of amalgam?
LD: My stock answer for this is that we will be doing Rich Moore, Dan Povenmire, Peter Shin and Bill Kopp cartoons. Each has their favorite director and influences, which they will be bringing to their shorts.
TZ: Is the production set up like the original Studio, with three or four directors working on different cartoons simultaneously, or is there one main director for several projects?
LD: We've tried to set this up much like the old Termite Terrace. The writers and directors come up with a bunch of ideas for shorts. The directors pick which ones they'd like to do. Then, in rotation, the writer comes in and pitches the story (on rough boards) to a room of writers and directors. Everyone pitches in ideas and gags and then the director and writer go off and shape a full storyboard. Only after the storyboard is completed does the writer script the actual dialogue (which is again primped by the director and other writers). This is recorded and animated to. By the way, our "writing" staff does not consist solely of Simpsons writers. Doug "Mr." Lawrence is a former animator and Kyle Baker is a well-known comic book artist.
TZ: Will the cartoons be animated mostly overseas, as some rumors suggest? If so, is this done to save time and/or money?
LD: The cartoons are being animated here, then being in-betweened, inked, and painted in Korea, and then composited back here. Yes, it was an expense issue. Nevertheless, the animation of one of these six minute shorts is costing more than the animation for a whole half-hour of the Simpsons!
TZ: Is political correctness an obstacle in creating modern cartoons with these characters? There has been a lot of controversy surrounding several of the classics in many years, including Toon Zone's own successful campaign to return Speedy Gonzales to television. Do you have total creative freedom, or do you have to get things through a board of censors?
LD: Warner Brothers has certainly not given us free reign, but neither have they completely stepped on our necks. They have recognized that not all of these cartoons can be completely child-friendly (Yosemite Sam keeps his guns in one) and that some will not be able to be shown on movies aimed at very small children. Nevertheless, the shorts all fall squarely in the G or PG territory, as they should.
TZ: Speaking of Speedy, will the fastest mouse in all Mexico make any appearances?
LD: If we make more cartoons, yes.
TZ: The original series was very topical. Will these cartoons comment on politics, culture, and war like their predecessors?
LD: Yes. However, since we live in a comedy-saturated culture, we probably will choose our targets carefully so we don't get embarrassed by our lag-time. I also have an aversion to doing direct parodies of something (like that on-line Survivor parody) and would rather create something new that will send up a whole genre. Like the old cartoons, folks should be able to enjoy them even if they don't know the original reference.
TZ: What do you think of the modern cartoons done in the past few decades? Some of them have been regarded as failures, some wonderful. Will your cartoons be better than, say, Space Jam or the Chuck Jones Film Production cartoons?
LD: I'm hoping our shorts will be better than any you've seen since the fifties, but that's not for me to say. I can, however, say that neither these shorts nor the new movie will be as bad as Space Jam, which was ****ing awful.
TZ: The media has informed us (the public) that some of the plots of your stories are spoofs. What types of spoofs have been considered? Are you considering any original plot outlines as well?
LD: The only straight spoof we're doing is Duck Dodgers, which incorporates elements of Star Wars, The Matrix, Men in Black and Duck Soup. Many of the others incorporate pop culture satire with original stories.
TZ: Will there be more of these cartoons if the original batch is a success?
TZ: If possible, may we have a list of titles and characters starring in them? Any plot information would be greatly appreciated also.
LD: The First Eight (SOME TITLES NOT FINAL)
WIZARD OF OW
Wile E. Coyote finds an old magic book, which proves not to be very helpful.
HARE AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS
Bugs can't seem to lose at Sam's casino. Then Sam realizes that Bugs has been cheating -- he has rabbit's feet.
DUCK DODGERS in ATTACK OF THE DRONES
Duck Dodgers creates a group of robot replicas to destroy a space menace; then he lets the hero robots loose. Bad things happen.
A genetically engineered superchicken threatens to take over Foghorn Leghorn's roost.
MY GENERATION G-G-G-AP
Porky drops his daughter off at a rock concert and then discovers it's inappropriate for a y-y-young lady.
MUSEUM SCREUM (Definitely tentative title)
Sylvester breaks into a children's museum to eat the prize exhibit: a Tweety Bird.
THE PIG STAYS IN THE PICTURE
Porky takes his family to a megaplex, hoping to find a movie "the whole family can enjoy." It doesn't work out that way.
A VERY DAFFY CHRISTMAS
Flying south for the winter, Daffy hits the North Pole. He's taken in by two of Santa's elves, not knowing they have very special Christmas Eve dinner plans.
SOME OF THE SHORTS IN DEVELOPMENT (These may or may not be done; most of these titles are just production placeholders)
Sylvester breaks into the White House to get the president's bird, and is aided by ghosts of the presidential dogs Checkers, Liberty and Buddy.
WHAT'S HIP, DOC?
Bugs is saved from Elmer by a supermodel (voiced by Jenna Elfman) whose anti-fur stance is not set in stone.
FULL METAL JACKASS
Coyote is accidentally sent ACME's military catalog.
Two mobsters stuff Daffy down the wrong rabbit hole.
Porky is tortured by his cubicle mate, Daffy.
Porky takes his family to a very odd American History amusement park.
Bugs is harassed by a beach dude (voiced by Brendan Fraser).
MEAT ME IN CHICAGO
A cow comes to 1930s Chicago to make it big in this singing, dancing Merry Melody, featuring a celebrity voice so secret I don't even know it yet.
DEEP SEA BUGS
500 years ago, a pirate Bugs and Sam sank a galleon full of treasure while fighting over it. Their ancestors have returned, determined to cooperate in order to retrieve the treasure.
A minor league baseball team imports a new mascot to compete with the other team's popular monkey mascot.
A chipmunk with a bad cold falls for Pepe on the dance floor, then one of her girlfriends gives her some Claritan.
Porky hires Daffy to fix a leaky sink, which, as you might imagine, is a bad idea.
Granny goes shopping, followed by a tall gentleman with a black cloak.
Daffy gets superpowers, wants to be good, but evil pays better.
GUESS WHO'S COMING TO MEET THE PARENTS
Bugs brings a squirrel home to dinner. His mother disapproves.
Article © 2003 Matthew Hunter. Any information, including the statements of Mr. Doyle, may be reprinted only with my permission or the permission of the staff of news.toonzone.net.
esn't seem so tacked-on after Doyle's; deleted extra spaces; "mores" to "morals" (not sure if that was Doyle's intent, but it's the best I can figure); fixed many spacing / capitalization botches; commas outside italics; "to be not" to "not to be"; misc. others -->