Frank Welker Cameo on ‘Futurama’

09.01.2010

The head of cartoon voice acting legend Frank Welker has been immortalized in a cameo appearance on Futurama.

Below is a screen capture from “Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences” (Season 6, episode 11 – production number 6ACV11) in a scene where Fry, Leela and Lrrr visit Orson Welles in the Head Museum. You can see Frank’s head in a jar on the upper shelf:

Frank Welker cameo on 'Futurama' along with (L to R, top shelf) Raquel Welch, Lawrence Welk, Paul Weller, (L to R, bottom shelf) Peter Weller, Orson Welles, Dawn Wells and H.G. Wells. Image courtesy of FOX and is used here for the purpose of commentary. 'Futurama TM and copyright FOX, its related entities and the Curiosity Company. All rights reserved.

Futurama‘s Season 6 finale airs Thursday, September 2nd at 10 pm (EST) on Comedy Central.

ComedyCentral.com also has web exclusive video interviews with Futurama cast members Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, John DiMaggio, Lauren Tom, David Herman, and two videos featuring Billy West here and here.

There is also a video clip from the San Diego Comic-Con 2010 Futurama panel with a teaser on the season finale which includes guest voices Coolio and Al Gore, and special musical guests Devo (<–click for a preview).

A very special thanks to Futurama fan “Bend-err” for posting this image at my request to the Planet Express Employee Lounge – The Futurama Message Board.

~ Craig “Voiceroy” Crumpton
Publisher: Voice Actors in the News


Michael Bell To Appear at 2010 NY Comic-Con

05.04.2010

The news item originally published here on 5.04 has been removed at the request of Hasbro.

Image courtesy of Michael Bell


Michael Bell has given Voice Actors in the News permission to be the first to announce that he will be a guest at the New York Comic-Con October 8-10, 2010. And he adds that he will be a guest for the UK’s Auto Assembly Transformers convention in 2011.

Bell revealed in December 2009 that he had auditioned for both the new Transformers and G.I. Joe series (previously reported here) being produced by the new Hasbro/Discovery joint cable network “The Hub” (previously reported here).

ForcesofGeek reported 5.01 that Hasbro officially announced the title of the series at JoeCon 2010 as G.I. Joe Renegades which Hasbro confirmed will also premiere will the new network launch on October 10, 2010.

FOG’s coverage of Hasbro’s JoeCon presentation also offers details on what fans can expect in the first season of Renegades:

- A 2-part pilot with a total of 26 episodes.
- Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow focus for episodes 7-8.
- Animation in traditional 2D, hand-drawn style “with extensive focus on light and shadow [and the] backgrounds appear to have a watercolor look.”

It was also announced that the new series is a relaunch with a “Year One” approach and “no continuity with prior classic series, Resolute or the film series.”

Ginny McSwain is serving as Renegades‘ voice director.

As as for an update on Bell being cast in any roles on The Hub’s new Transformers series (now officially confirmed as Transformers: Prime, he says, “So far no bites.”

Bell is also an avid supporter of animal rights, and would like to ask fans to spread the word and share their support for the following websites and organizations:

FoodIsPower.org
VeganMexicanFood.com
Girard-LifeSaver.org
PETA.org

Special thanks to Michael Bell for giving “Voice Actors in the News” the opportunity to share this news with the fans. And thanks to The Huntsman for the heads-up on the new TF series title via toonzone’s forums.

Related post: 12.11.2009 — Michael Bell Talks New Transformers, G.I. Joe Animated Series


May 2010 VAs on TV Highlights

05.01.2010

“VAs on TV” has long been a feature in this blog’s history, but I normally highlight more notable ones as individual posts.

I’ve been wanting to introduce this as a monthly, comprehensive feature rather than just the occasional post, but with the time and effort involved in maintaining it I make no promises about keeping it updated regularly.

All times listed are EST (Eastern Standard Time). Please be sure to check your local listings for showtimes in your area. And I will continue updating this page throughout the month of May, which will be posted via Facebook and Twitter.

Additionally, as new info on upcoming on-camera and voice “appearances” is released but the scheduled airing is not yet known, they will be added at the close of this article.

5.01William Shatner interviews Weird Al Yankovic on Shatner’s Raw Nerve at 9:30 AM (EST) on the Biography Channel.

5.02 — Guest voices on the 8:30 PM episode of The Cleveland Show (FOX):

- Jason Sudeikis as Holt and Terry
- Jamie Kennedy as Federline
- Kanye West as Kenny West
- Taraji P. Henson as Chanel
- Jason Alexander as Saul Friedman
- Bebe Neuwirth as Sarah Friedman
- Al Thompson as Walt
Also listen for Kevin Michael Richardson as Bea Arthur.

(Previously reported here.)

: On Adult Swim, The Boondocks returns with the season three premiere at 11:30 PM. It features the voice talents of Regina King (Southland) as Huey and Riley Freeman; John Witherspoon (Friday After Next) as Granddad; Gary Anthony Williams (Boston Legal) as Uncle Ruckus; Cedric Yarbrough (Reno 911) as Tom Dubois; Jill Talley (American Dad) as Sarah; and Gabby Soleil (Johnson Family Vacation) as Jazmine.

5.03 — The JEOPARDY! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational airs May 3-7 and features Harry Shearer, Neil Patrick Harris, Michael McKean and Cheech Marin competing in a trivia match for their favorite charities. More details and video on this event are available in my previous report. [Update 5.03 @ 10:00 PM: Unfortunately, Shearer lost to Jane Curtin in the first round of the tournament.]

: At 9:30 PM (EST) on CBS, Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa Simpson) guest stars on a repeat of The Big Bang Theory. [Thanks to Jon B. for the heads-up.]

: Discover why so many recent voiceover auditions ask for a “Morgan Freeman type” as Freeman guests on CBS’ Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.

5.04Brad Garrett (voices in Ratatouille, A Bug’s Life, Eek! The Cat, Schnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show) guest stars as “Doug” in a rerun of Rosanne (ep. # 3.25 “The Pied Piper of Lanford” @ 12:30 AM on TVLand. Repeats @ 11:30 PM).

: The Biography Channel profiles Adam West (voices on Family Guy, The Fairly Odd Parents, Meet the Robinsons) at 9:00 AM (EST). Includes interviews with Burt (“Robin”) Ward, Frank (“The Riddler”) Gorshin, and Julie (“Catwoman”) Newmar. Repeats at 3:00 PM; 5.05 @ 4:00 AM.

: Michael McKean (voices on Harvey Birdman, Justice League, Family Guy) competes on the second round of JEOPARDY! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational. More details and video on this event are available in my previous report. [Update: 5.04 @ 11:00 PM -- Winner: Michael McKean!]

: A new episode of WordGirl airs on PBS at 4:00 PM (EST) with guest stars John C. McGinley (Scrubs) as Whammer, animation voice actor Grey DeLisle (Scooby-Doo, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Wow Wow Wubzy) as Ms. Question and comedian/impressionist James Adomian as Joe the Guard.

It’s followed by another new episode at 4:30 PM (EST) guest starring Daran Norris (The Fairly OddParents) as Seymour Orlando Smooth and Grey DeLisle as Beatrice Bixby/Lady Redundant Woman.

: Samuel L. Jackson (Afro Samurai, The Boondocks) guests on The Ellen Degeneres Show (in syndication, check local listings).

: On Comedy Central at 10:00 PM (EST), the former FOX animated show Sit Down, Shut Up makes its cable network debut. It features the voices of Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Kristin Chenoweth, Will Forte, Nick Kroll, Kenan Thompson, Cheri Oteri and Henry Winkler.

: Impressionist Frank Caliendo (MAD TV) guests on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

5.05 — Look for Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob SquarePants) as Persky in a repeat episode of Just Shoot Me (ep. 2.13 “Pass the Salt”) on TBS @ 11:00 AM.

: Neil Patrick Harris (voices on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Penguins of Madagascar, Robot Chicken, Family Guy, Spider-Man) competes on the third round of JEOPARDY! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational. More details and video on this event are available in my previous report.

: “Pixar Movie Mission,” a repeat episode of Dinner Impossible (FOOD TV) airs @ 10:00 PM (EST) and features Pixar founder John Lasseter, director/writer/animator Brad Bird (voice of The Incredibles‘ Edna Mode), and Lou Romano (voice of Linguini in Ratatouille). Repeats: 5.06 @ 1:00 AM; 5.08 @ 4:00 PM.

: Dana Delaney (Superman: The Animated Series) guests on PBS’ Tavis Smiley.

: Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show) guests on CBS’ Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.

: Samuel L. Jackson guests on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

5.06Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead) has a cameo on Spy Kids (2001) airing on Showtime @ 8:00 AM. Repeats: 5.12 @ 9:30 AM; 5.16 @ 12:05 PM.

: John DiMaggio (Futurama, Gears of War series, Chowder) has a brief role as “Officer Ross” in a rerun of My Name is Earl (ep. 1.23 “BB”) @ 8:00 AM on MyNetworkTV.

: Tim Daly (Superman: The Animated Series) guests on ABC’s The View.

: Samuel L. Jackson (a busy man on the talk show circuit this month) guests on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

5.07 — On the 8:00 PM (EST) episode of Smallville (The CW), Michael McKean (voices on Harvey Birdman, Justice League, Family Guy) guest stars as Perry White.

: Comedian Steven Wright (voices in Babe: Pig in the City, Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist, The Swan Princess) guests on CBS’ Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.

5.08Jeff Dunham: Spark of Insanity airs on Comedy Central at 9:00 PM (EST).

5.09 — The Biography Channel profiles Bill Cosby at 12:00 PM (EST), followed by the two-hour special The Cosby Show… A Look Back at 1:00 PM.

: Phil LaMarr guest stars as “Kurt” on a rerun of According to Jim (ep. 6.17 “Any Man of Mine”) @ 1:00 PM on The CW.

: Guest voices on the 8:30 PM episode of The Cleveland Show (FOX):

- Jason Sudeikis as Holt
- Jamie Kennedy as Federline
- Connor Rayburn as Dylan
- Aseem Batra as Kendra
- Glenn Howerton as Ernie
- Alec Sulkin as Angus
- Alex Borstein as Mrs. Lowenstein
- John Viener as Gordy
Also listen for Kevin Michael Richardson as Uncle Thomas the Tank Engine and Flava Flav.

(Previously reported here.)

5.10Judy Greer (voices on Archer, Glen Martin DDS) guest stars on a repeat of The Big Bang Theory at 9:30 PM (EST) on CBS.

5.11William Shatner interviews Tim Allen (Toy Story series, Home Improvement) on Shatner’s Raw Nerve at 11:00 AM on the Biography Channel, followed by Shatner’s interview with Jason Alexander (Duckman, The Hunchback of Notre Dame) at 12:00 PM. (Repeats between 5-6 PM.) You can also watch Tim Allen’s interview online at Biography.com.

5.12
Johnny Depp narrates “The Doors” documentary When You’re Strange on American Masters @ 9:00 PM (EST) on PBS. A preview of the film is available on PBS.org.

: The SimpsonsHank Azaria and Matt Groening are guest judges on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters @ 10:00 PM.

5.14George Takei (Oh, my!) guest stars on a scifi fantasy episode (“Starship Tipton”) of The Suite Life on Deck @ 8:00 PM (EST) on the Disney Channel. Although famous for his role as Sulu in the Star Trek franchise, Takei has voiced many animated productions: Disney’s Mulan film series, The Super Hero Squad Show, Chowder, Transformers: Animated, Kim Possible, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

5.16Wilmer Valderama (voice of Handy Manny) and Handy himself team up for ABC’s season finale of Extreme Makeover Home Edition at 8:00 PM (EST).

And stay tuned to ABC at 9:00 PM for a guest appearance by Dan Gilvezan (original voice of Bumblebee on Transformers) on the season finale of Desperate Housewives. [Thanks to the official Dan Gilvezan Fan Page for the news!]

: On FOX at 8:00 PM (EST), Kelsey Grammer reprises his role as Sideshow Bob in an all-new episode of The Simpsons.

Immediately following @ 8:30 PM (EST) is a new episode of The Cleveland Show (FOX) guest starring Arianna Huffington, Aseem Batra and Ted Lange (The Love Boat).

Adult Swim premieres the first episode of Squidbillies‘ sixth season @ 12:00 AM guest starring rockers Widespread Panic and featuring the voices of Unknown Hinson as Early Cuyler, Daniel McDevitt as Rusty, Dana Snyder as Granny, Todd Hanson as Dan Halen, Patricia French as Aunt Lil, Scott Hilley as Reverend, Mary Kraft as Krystal, and Bobby F. Ellerbee as Sheriff.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes video from 2008 featuring Unknown Hinson and Dana Snyder:

5.20 — On the 8:00 PM (EST) two-hour season finale of Smallville (The CW), Phil Morris (The Secret Saturdays, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) guest stars as John Jones, and Britt Irvin (George of the Jungle, X-Men: Evolution, Sabrina: The Animated Series) as Star Girl.

: Lenoard Nimoy (Star Trek, Transformers: The Movie, Atlantis: The Lost Empire) guest stars on FOX’s Fringe at 9:00 PM (EST).

5.21James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Clone Wars says (via his official Facebook fan page) that he will be singing both The National Anthem and “God Bless America” for “Clone Wars Day” at the Los Angeles Dodgers’ home game against the Detroit Tigers and adds that “it will be televised.”

5.23 — The 8:00 PM (EST) season finale of The Simpsons (FOX) features American Idol judges Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson.

And stay tuned to FOX for the 8:30 PM episode of The Cleveland Show (FOX) with the following guest stars:

- Jason Sudeikis as Holt
- David Lynch as Gus
- Frances Callier as Cookie
- Craig Robinson as Freight Train
- Corey Holcomb as Robert
This episode also features a “special musical number by Earth, Wind & Fire” as well as cameos by Family Guy‘s Peter Griffin and Quagmire (voiced by Seth MacFarlane).

(Previously reported here.)

Additional notes and upcoming appearances:

- John Goodman (voices in The Princess and the Frog, Monsters, Inc., The Emperor’s New Groove film and TV series, The Jungle Book 2, Bee Movie, and the upcoming animated feature film Bunyan and Babe) is narrating the TLC series Best Food Ever. It premiered May 3rd and currently airs in regular rotation on the network. Visit TLC.Discover.com for the schedule.

- I’ve updated my feature article on Nick’s Big Time Rush with appearances by Tara Strong, Dee Bradley Baker, James Arnold Taylor, Phil LaMarr, Daran Norris, Carlos Alazraqui and Ahmed Best. Because these episodes are broadcast in regular rotation on Nick, I’ve decided not to list them in this feature. But if you’d like to see when they air, check Nick.com’s TV Schedule page. Some episodes from the first season are also available online @ Nick.com.

- NickandMore.com shares via Twitter that Tom Kenny has appeared twice on Nick’s True Jackson, VP in the episodes “Saving Snackleberry” and “True Royalty.” Check this page on IMDb.com for future airings.

- Phil LaMarr posted via his official Facebook fan page on 5.03 that he “Spent the AM @ Cartoon Network working on the very fun GENERATOR REX” and added later that he recorded with Grey Delisle, Carlos Alazraqui and Marion Ross (Happy Days).

Since making its debut on Cartoon Network, Generator Rex now airs regularly on the schedule and features the voices of Daryl Sabara as Rex, John DiMaggio as Bobo Haha and Skalamander, Fred Savage as Noah, Tara Strong as Alan, Grey DeLisle as Dr. Holiday, Wally Kurth as Agent Six, Troy Baker as Van Kleiss and Biowulf, J.K. Simmons as White Knight, Tom Kenny as Scorpio, and Hynden Walch as Breach.

Sources: TVGuide.com, Interbridge.com, TheFutonCritic.com, IMDb.com


Voice Cast Cavalcade: The Cleveland Show

04.26.2010

Next in my series of “Voice Cast Cavalcade” features…

I’ve noticed that I’m getting search hits almost daily from fans looking for “cleveland voice actor” or similar search terms.

I’m always willing to oblige my readers by providing more info on popular blog searches, but I’ve previously profiled Mike Henry, voice of Cleveland Brown and co-creator of The Cleveland Show. And I mentioned some of the celebrity guest voices in my February coverage.

Without getting into the debate over the show being “too derivative” of Family Guy (a common criticism which is also said of American Dad), as an animation fan (and critic) I have to say I am enjoying it much more than I ever did Family Guy. I didn’t think Cleveland was a strong enough character to carry the series as the lead, and wow was I proven wrong.

I feel The Cleveland Show also is better written and has stronger characterizations than Family Guy, mainly because Peter Griffin is the most inconsistent character in animated history (and one of the most obnoxious as well). Cleveland’s like the polar opposite of Peter, and he’s actually likable.

And supporting the solid writing are entertaining performances by the voice cast. But since I’ve mentioned the cast here previously, I thought I’d bypass the commentary and offer you the chance to see the cast in action.

So, following a little news on upcoming episodes of the show, you’ll find a series of behind-the-scenes videos and interviews I’ve been collecting in my backlogged bookmarks.

That said, TheFutonCritic.com has details (via FOX press release) on the guest voices for new episodes of The Cleveland Show airing May 2nd and 9th:

+ “Brotherly Love”, airing 5.02 at 8:30 PM (EST) on FOX:

Voice Cast:
- Mike Henry as Cleveland Brown and Rallo Tubbs
- Sanaa Lathan as Donna Tubbs
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Cleveland Jr., Lester, Julius and Bea Arthur
- Reagan Gomez as Roberta Tubbs
- Seth MacFarlane as Tim

Guest Voice Cast:
- Jason Sudeikis as Holt and Terry
- Jamie Kennedy as Federline
- Kanye West as Kenny West
- Taraji P. Henson as Chanel
- Jason Alexander as Saul Friedman
- Bebe Neuwirth as Sarah Friedman
- Al Thompson as Walt

+ “Brown History Month”, airing 5.09 at 8:30 PM (EST) on FOX:

Voice Cast:
- Mike Henry as Cleveland Brown and Rallo Tubbs
- Sanaa Lathan as Donna Tubbs
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Cleveland Jr., Lester, Uncle Thomas the Tank Engine and Flavor Flav
- Reagan Gomez as Roberta Tubbs
- Seth MacFarlane as Tim

Guest Voice Cast:
- Jason Sudeikis as Holt
- Jamie Kennedy as Federline
- Connor Rayburn as Dylan
- Aseem Batra as Kendra
- Glenn Howerton as Ernie
- Alec Sulkin as Angus
- Alex Borstein as Mrs. Lowenstein
- John Viener as Gordy

Additionally, FreakinSweetNews.com reports that the May 23rd episode will feature “a special musical number by Earth, Wind & Fire.”

Now, onto the videos…

In April 2010, Mike Henry was interviewed by BackStage Casting:

And these are all from the official FOX Broadcasting YouTube Channel and most of them from 2009:

And finally, from The Hollywood Reporter:

I’ll continue to update this page over time to add photos, videos and related interviews. And I’m still trying to find photos/videos from The Cleveland Show panel featuring cast members Mike Henry and Kevin Michael Richardson at the 2010 Chicago Entertainment and Comic Expo.


Shearer and Harris Compete for a Million on Jeopardy

04.26.2010

This article was originally published April 26th and has since been updated and expanded. Please scroll down for the latest updates.

Harry Shearer and Neil Patrick Harris are among the nine finalists competing on the JEOPARDY! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational May 3-7 (check your local listings for showtimes in your area).

Of the nine finalists, Shearer and Harris are by far the most prolific voiceoverists in animation.

Shearer, of Simpsons‘ fame, is the voice of many of the show’s popular characters: Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman and Principal Skinner (just to name a “few”).

And Harris has voiced lead and guest starring roles for a number of animated productions: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Penguins of Madagascar, Robot Chicken, Family Guy, Spider-Man, and even had a cameo as himself on The Simpsons. He’s also voicing Nightwing/Dick Grayson for the upcoming direct-to-video animated feature Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Other celebrity participants in this competition have also voiced animated productions such as Michael McKean (voices on Harvey Birdman, Justice League, Family Guy), Cheech Marin (Cars, The Lion King series, Oliver & Company), Jane Curtin (Antz, Hercules, Recess, Cyberchase), Charles Shaughnessey (Stanley, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, The Tale of Despereaux, Rugrats: All Grown Up), and Jane Kaczmarek (voice of Judge Constance Harm, a recurring character on The Simpsons).

Update: 5.08 — Congratulations to Michael McKean on winning the JEOPARDY! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational. Here’s the final results (via SonyPictures.com):

- Michael McKean: $11,200
15 correct answers / 2 incorrect

- Cheech Marin: $8,000
19 / 5

- Jane Curtin: $11,000
18 / 3

Thanks to McKean’s tournament win, his charity — the International Myeloma Foundation — earns $1,000,000. Jane Curtin’s charity — US Fund for UNICEF — gets $250,000, and Cheech Marin earned $100,000 for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

Update: 5.07 — Congrats to Michael McKean on his win for the first round of the finals. Here’s the results (via SonyPictures.com):

- Michael McKean: $21,600
24 correct answers / 0 incorrect

- Cheech Marin: $11,600
13 / 1

- Jane Curtin: $15,800
21 / 3

Update: 5.05Cheech Marin wins over Neil Patrick Harris and Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) in Round 3, which leaves Marin, McKean and Jane Curtin (3rd Rock from the Sun) as the finalists competing May 6-7.

Results from Round 3 (courtesy of SonyPictures.com):

- Neil Patrick Harris: $9,400
17 correct answers / 2 incorrect

- Jane Kaczmarek: $11,400
15 / 2

- Cheech Marin: $16,200
18 / 0

Update: 5.04 @ 11:30 PM — Michael McKean soundly beat his challengers Isaac Mizrahi and Charles Shaughnessey. Final results (courtesy of SonyPictures.com):

- Michael McKean: $18,800
25 correct / 2 incorrect

- Isaac Mizrahi: $9,600
16 / 1

- Charles Shaughnessey: $15,600
17 / 0

Update: 5.03 @ 10:00 PM (EST) — Although Shearer clearly has great knowledge of trivia, he was out-answered by Jane Curtin by 21 correct answers to Shearer’s 15. But he very nearly had a last-minute upset during Final Jeopardy, when she wagered a low amount while Shearer bet everything.

Final results (via SonyPictures.com):

- Pat Sajak: $4,800
12 correct answers, 5 incorrect

- Jane Curtin: $14,600
21 / 2

- Harry Shearer: $12,600
15 / 2

Ah, well…so much for my high hopes for a Spinal Tap cast face-off in the finals with Shearer against Michael McKean.

And courtesy of CBS’s official Jeopardy! YouTube Channel, following are highlights from the quarterfinals and interviews about the celebrities’ respective charities:

Source: Celebwall.com


Voice Cast Cavalcade: Word Up, WordGirl!

02.14.2010

This article was first published February 14, 2010 and has since been revised and updated with new information. Please scroll down for the most recent additions.

Although I have done previous voice cast features here on the blog, I’m introducing it as a series with a fancy-schmancy title — “Voice Cast Cavalcade” — where I will periodically spotlight the voice casts of TV shows, movies, films and video games which I think are worthy of mention.

WordGirl image courtesy of PBS.org

First up is the Emmy Award-winning PBS series, WordGirl [<-- official site link], one of my current favorite animated shows.

Yes, I know it’s a kids’ show. And no, I don’t have any kids. But as a writer I’ve always had a fascination with words and their meanings. I’m also involved in education as an acting coach for kids and teens, and I perform an “edutainment” reading program for children. So if I must justify why I watch WordGirl, there you go.

But I also watch the show because I just love cartoons. And as an animation critic, I can’t say the show’s animation is particularly striking or even outstanding. But that’s not worth criticizing because WordGirl is designed to have a functional, simplistic coloring book/comic book-esque look that’s easy on the eyes and works for the show’s format.

And it’s on PBS so it’s expected that WordGirl‘s focus is education, which it has in spades — it’s geared to help boost reading comprehension and vocabulary.

But quite surprisingly it also entertains…for all ages.

Most studios producing animated educational programming for kids unfortunately share a common problem: they often seem to forget to try making the show entertaining for adults too. (Many parents — good parents — do watch shows with their kids rather than letting the TV serve as a babysitter. I’m an uncle several times over and I love watching kids’ shows with my nieces and nephews because I find it interesting to observe what they react to.)

And because PBS shows are sponsored by companies who want parents to buy their products, I don’t understand why a production company would not attempt to make a kids’ show at least moderately entertaining for adults. Otherwise, the sponsors and advertisers seem more of an afterthought.

WordGirl is one of those rare kids’ shows that seems to have been intentionally crafted to be entertaining for all ages, and with a production studio like Soup2Nuts behind the series…well, that explains a LOT.

Soup2Nuts is the same studio that gave us Science Court, Home Movies and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. Home Movies and Dr. Katz — both skewed for adults — have developed a strong adult following through Adult Swim and Comedy Central (respectively). And Science Court was a kids’ show that thanks to clever writing and comedic voice performances had a broad audience appeal.

(And thankfully, WordGirl doesn’t use Soup2Nuts’ trademark “Squigglevision” from any of those series.)

And I’m not the only adult who has noticed WordGirl‘s entertainment value.

Popular animation fan site toonzone.net ranked WordGirl #19 on their Toons of the 2000s: Top 25 Animated Television Series, actually ranking WordGirl higher than such fan favorites as King of the Hill, Teen Titans, South Park and Chowder. Toonzone calls it “one of the smartest shows on television” thanks to the “humorous and fast-paced dialogue,” “unique villains,” “zany…secondary characters,” and the narrator’s commentary which “makes for some of the greatest highlights of the show.”

Toonzone calls it a “nominally…educational program,” and adds that there is “nothing nominal…about its entertainment value.”

PBS and Scholastic also seem deliberate in promoting the show to adults. In 2007, they enlisted PBS’ news anchor Jim Lehrer to do a “mock interview” with WordGirl for a show promo:

But what personally hooked me on the show were the cast performances and guest stars, which helped WordGirl to win the award for “Best Voice Talent” at the inaugural 2010 KidScreen Awards.

Danna Feinglass (photo courtesy UCBTheatre.com)

The show’s title character, WordGirl (aka Becky Botsford) is voiced by Dannah Feinglass (also credited as Dannah Phirman) who is also the voice of Penny, Bessie Higgenbottom’s sidekick on Nick’s popular animated series The Mighty B!. Furthermore, Feinglass voices Zaria and Linda the Sheep on Tak and the Power of Juju (also on Nickelodeon), and has voiced characters in the Mass Effect video game series. [FYI: Feinglass has also written episodes of WordGirl and The Mighty B!]

Feinglass is also an alumni of the Los Angeles’ comedy troupe, The Upright Citizens Brigade — which if you browse the Performers page on UCBTheatre.com you’ll discover this is a common connection with several other members of WordGirl’s voice cast: James Adomian, Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt, Matt Besser, Danielle Schneider, Ron Lynch and Nick Kroll.

WordGirl‘s voice cast is far too lengthy for me to include here in its entirety, so I’ll just list the principals, recurring roles and notable guest stars (note that these are all recurring characters featured in 3 or more episodes).

- Chris Parnell – Narrator, “The Exposition Guy”
- Maria Bamford – Mrs. Botsford, Violet Heaslip, Leslie the Assistant
- Ryan Raddatz – Mr. Botsford, Todd “Scoops” Ming
- Cree Summer – Granny May
- Tom Kenny – T.J. Botsford, Dr. Two Brains
- James Adomian – Curator, Security Guard, Robber
- Fred Stoller – Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy
- Patton Oswalt – Theodore “Tobey” McCalister III
- H. Jon Benjamin – Reginald, the Jewelry Store Clerk
- Ron Lynch – Mayor
- Larry Murphy – TV Reporter
- Grey DeLisle – Lady Redundant Woman
- Jeffrey Tambor – Mr. Big
- Jim Gaffigan – Mr. Dudley
- Pamela Adlon – The Birthday Girl
- John C. McGinley – The Whammer

Other notable guest stars include Kevin McDonald (Kids in the Hall, Invader ZIM), Ed Asner (Freakazoid!, The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Wayne Knight (Seinfeld, Toonsylvania), Kristin Schaal (Flight of the Conchords), Andy Dick (NewsRadio, Clone High), Judy Greer (Arrested Development), Peter Graves (Mission: Impossible, Airplane!), Elliot Gould (Friends, Kim Possible), and Brian Posehn (Transformers Animated, Mission Hill).

Here’s a segment from WordGirl introducing one of the series’ recurring villains “The Butcher” via PBS’ official YouTube Channel, featuring the voices of Dannah Feinglass (Becky, WordGirl), Chris Parnell (Narrator), Maria Bamford (Violet), Jack Ferraiolo (The Butcher), Jen Cohn (Bank Teller, Rich Old Lady), H. Jon Benjamin (Reginald), and Mike O’Connell (Grocery Store Manager).

For the show’s on-air credits, the cast is listed by name only which unfortunately makes it difficult to ID the voices, and I am unable to find an official source with a complete voice cast. The cast lists on IMDb.com and Wikipedia.org are useful but lack 100% accuracy.

I’ve contacted PBS Kids and Scholastic in hopes that they will be able to supply this information for the fans, and will update upon their reply.

DVD cover for 'WordGirl: Earth Day Girl' (via Scholastic press release)

And in very closely related news, PBS issued a press release (via toonzone.net) on Jan. 19th announcing WordGirl’s first-ever DVD release for March 30th: WordGirl: Earth Day Girl.

WordGirl: Earth Day Girl includes 8 episodes with bonus content that will both educate and entertain younger viewers, and I believe animation fans will find the show refreshingly entertaining too.

I personally hope it sells extremely well with parents and thus possibly help season box sets to be released in the future…for my future kids, naturally, but for me too.

Update: 5.04.2010
— I’ve given this article a complete overhaul and added images and video clips, and tried finding some other cast interviews via Google search:

- Found a mention on the official site for Ryan Raddatz (series writer and voice of WordGirl’s dad, Mr. Botsford) of a WordGirl live event (held in Los Angeles January 22, 2009) where Raddatz’s mentions that they had just wrapped production on “104 eleven-minute episodes” for WordGirl’s second season. (Barely half of Season 2′s new episodes have aired as of May 2010.)

And in a follow-up post, Raddatz shared several photos of the event featuring the voice cast.

In a more recent post, Raddatz blogged February 12th, 2010:

I’m currently writing my last script of season four (episode 155!) and we’ll be in the booth recording all next week. We should hear soon about more seasons….Fingers crossed!

- Series writer and voice talent Jack Ferraiolo was profiled in a June 2008 interview following his Daytime Emmy win.

- Animation World Network published an interview February 2009 with WordGirl executive producer Deborah Forte and series’ creator Dorothea Gillim.

- Two interviews with Maria Bamford:
womensradio.com
creativeloafing.com

- Starpulse.com February 2009 interview with Chris Parnell.


Kenny, Hines Talk ‘Superhero Squad’

02.11.2010

ComicBookResources.com has an interview with Tom Kenny detailing his work on The Superhero Squad Show as the voice Captain America, Iron Man, M.O.D.O.K., Juggernaut, Colossus and other characters on the show. Kenny also talks about his love for all things geeky and reveals some tidbits about the show’s season finale.

Here’s what Kenny has to say about voice acting as a career:

I messed around in rock and roll bands when I was a little kid, and I still do. Then I kind of stumbled my way into standup and sketch comedy. Eventually, I became employed in that while doing the occasional voiceover, but the whole time I was doing those things, I thought that voiceover was the thing I was best at. I wished that could be 98% of my pie instead of two percent. It’s kind of a tough nut to crack. I made a living as a standup for many years and eventually the voiceover thing was able to supplant a lot of that stuff. It turns out that I was right – voiceover is better. [Laughs] Voiceover is the best-kept secret in entertainment.

It’s a perfect job for what you would call the shy show-off, you know what I mean? The person who doesn’t exactly want to be famous and deal with all of the horrific stuff that being an on camera celebrity brings to your life, but you still want to make a living as an actor. If you’re not driven by wanting to see your face on the cover of “People Magazine,” then being a voice actor is the best. It’s all of the fun of being an actor without any of the mess.

CBR CBR also interviews Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Cheryl Hines who voices Stardust, herald of Galactus (voiced by George Takei), on the 2-part season finale of The Superhero Squad Show airing Feb. 13th and 20th at 7:30 PM on Cartoon Network.

Says Hines of her voice acting experience:

The first time you do this, it’s such a strange feeling, because you’re in this booth that has this big glass window and there are usually, I don’t know, five to eight people on the other side staring at you with their headphones on. You can’t really hear what they’re saying, unless they want you to hear what they’re saying, and then they push a little button and say something to you. Otherwise, you’ll do a take and see them all talking. “Oh no, what’s going on in there?” Then they’ll push the button and go, “That was good, but let’s just try it one more time.” [Laughs] They’re always super calm when they talk to you, because they don’t want you getting rattled.

I remember the first time I did it, I was sweating. You’re not sure if you’re doing it right. You don’t really know what you’re doing. After you do a few [takes], you realize that there’s actually no right or wrong. The people on the other side of the glass, they’re listening and they’re really good at imagining the world that you’re creating.

You are so exhausted at the end of recording something like this. It’s very draining. I mean, let’s be honest, I’m not digging ditches, but your whole body is all tense and you’re trying to get it right and you’re so in it and concentrating so hard for three or four hours at a time. When it’s over, it feels like you just ran a marathon. Plus, with everybody’s eyes all on you, everyone’s listening to every little swallow, and God help you if you have any other body noises. [Laughs] It can be very stressful! But it’s weird. It’s a different way of working.

Related post: 1.31.2010 — Tom Kenny Talks Handy Manny


Neil Patrick Harris Guests on Nick’s ‘Penguins’

02.11.2010

For Immediate Release

Neil Patrick Harris Takes on The Penguins of Madagascar in DreamWorks Animation’s Hit Comedy’s First Nickelodeon Special, ‘Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge,’ Feb. 15 at 8 p.m.

Harris Guest Stars as the Evil “Dr. Blowhole” in Primetime Presidents’ Day Special

January 20, 2010: 09:27 AM ET

BURBANK, Calif., Jan. 20 /PRNewswire/ — Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private face off against the malevolent dolphin, Dr. Blowhole, in The Penguins of Madagascar’s first Nickelodeon special, “Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge,” premiering Monday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) guest stars in the half-hour special as the penguins’ long-time nemesis out for revenge and to finally conquer the world. The DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) series, which regularly airs Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. (ET/PT), is currently TV’s number-two animated show with kids 2-11 and with total viewers on basic cable for the past year, behind only SpongeBob SquarePants. The show also holds the record as Nickelodeon’s most-watched series premiere in network history with 6.4 million total viewers.

“The Penguins of Madagascar has been a huge success in transferring from film to television,” said Brown Johnson, President, Animation, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. “We’re thrilled to give fans this fantastic TV special featuring the multi-talented Neil Patrick Harris as a hilariously disgruntled dolphin.”

Neil Patrick Harris Takes on The Penguins of Madagascar In DreamWorks Animation's Hit Comedy's First Nickelodeon Special, 'Dr. Blowhole's Revenge,' Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. (PRNewsFoto/Nickelodeon)

In “Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge,” Dr. Blowhole, tired of the penguins foiling his plans to rule land and sea, has returned to annihilate the band of brothers so he may take over the world once and for all. The first step in his plan is to kidnap King Julien, who Dr. Blowhole mistakenly thinks is Skipper’s best friend. The penguins set off to rescue their annoying lemur neighbor, only to find they have waddled right into a shocking double-cross. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private must escape the trap and save the planet before Dr. Blowhole succeeds in flooding the Earth’s surface in an effort to wipe out the existence of all land mammals.

Harris currently stars as Barney Stinson in the hit series “How I Met Your Mother.” His additional credits include the voice of Steve in the animated feature film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, host of the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, star of the popular internet series, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” and he has spoofed himself in the movie Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, as well its sequel.

From Feb. 8 through Feb. 15, leading up to the “Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge” on-air premiere, Nick.com will launch The Penguins of Madagascar The Rise of Blowhole – a convergent gaming event mirroring the on-air episode themes where fans can go on four missions with the daredevil Penguin crew as they battle their long-time nemesis, Dr. Blowhole. Fans who tune in to “Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge” on Nickelodeon will get a special code that unlocks the fourth and final gaming mission: The Zoo Is Not Enough.

The series follows the exploits of the beloved penguin brothers from DreamWorks Animation’s hit feature films Madagascar ($532 million worldwide gross) and Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa (nearly $579 million worldwide). Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private are a group of penguins who believe they are an elite strike force with top-tier commando skills that is headquartered at New York City’s Central Park Zoo. Their orderly world is disrupted by the arrival of the lemurs, who are led by the imperially deluded King Julien.

Andy Richter (Late Night with Conan O’ Brien) and Tom McGrath (co-created the penguin characters and directed both Madagascar films) reprise their roles as Mort and Skipper from the feature films. Nicole Sullivan (Rita Rocks) voices the role of Marlene the otter, Jeff Bennett (Enchanted) voices Kowalski, James Patrick Stuart (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) voices Private, John DiMaggio (Futurama) voices Rico and Danny Jacobs (Futurama) stars as Julien, King of the Lemurs. The Penguins of Madagascar is executive produced by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley, (Disney’s Kim Possible and Hercules, Sky High) and is produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif.

About DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation creates high-quality entertainment, including CG animated feature films, television specials and series, live entertainment properties and online virtual worlds, meant for audiences around the world. The Company has world-class creative talent, a strong and experienced management team and advanced filmmaking technology and techniques. All of DreamWorks Animation’s feature films are now being produced in 3D. The Company has theatrically released a total of 18 animated feature films, including the franchise properties, Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda.


Futurama Cast News Round-Up

02.11.2010

Some tidbits on the upcoming sixth season of Futurama collected from around the web:

- Previously reported here, but certainly worthy of mentioning first is that Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder won an Annie Award for “Best Home Entertainment Production.” Scroll down through my report and you’ll find a video which includes a very brief moment of footage showing the Futurama cast and crew receiving the award, with a shout-out from Bender (John DiMaggio).

- Via SLURMED.com (aka Futurama Point): The Kevin Pollack Chat Show interviews Billy West and John DiMaggio — fast-forward through Pollack’s opening commentary to the 17:45 mark to see the interview which is both long and wonderful:

- Season 6 3-minute preview from the October 2009 Florida Animation Supercon:

(with better video)

(with better audio)

- Also from the Florida Animation Supercon: John DiMaggio interviewed by plughitzlive.com (in two parts):

Honestly, you could waste away an hour or so watching all the panel footage and interviews that plughitzlive shot at the con, and most of it is full of Futurama goodness. Watch it all here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/PLuGHiTzLive

- On September 2nd, 2009, Maurice LaMarche revealed via a very brief video on Facebook that late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson will guest star in the upcoming season.

On January 8th, Moe announced that the cast was doing a table read for the landmark 100th episode of the series. Fellow cast members mentioned: Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal, Tress MacNeille, Phil LaMarr, Dave Herman and Lauren Tom.

On a related note, GotFuturama.com has a “teaser” from David X. Cohen on what the 100th episode and Holiday-themed episodes will include:

Episode 100 which was recorded the other day may serve as a mini-season finale depending on Comedy Central of course. Also, episode 101 is an Anthology of Interest-style episode with 3 stories based on Xmas, Robanukah, and Kwanzaa.

- Via RadioInk.com: Phil Hendrie, voice of various members of the Waterfall family on Futurama (as well as Tom Landry and Little John on King of the Hill), will be the keynote speaker at the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Luncheon on April 13 in Las Vegas.

- Via GotFuturama.com:

Billy West, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche and Phil LaMarr will be making an appearance at the Wizard World Comic Con in Anaheim, CA.

The convention runs from April 16th to April 18th and includes appearances from lots of stars including several Star Trek actors who also guested on Futurama.

- SciFiWire.com posted an interview with Katey Sagal in mid-January discussing details on what to expect in the upcoming season. “It is so funny,” Sagal said. “I can’t wait for people to see it. I’ve always thought the writing is amazing, but this year it’s hysterically funny.” The article also mentions that 12 of the 26 planned episodes have been recorded as of that posting.

- Newsarama.com has an interview with Phil LaMarr discussing Futurama which I covered in a separate post (which also includes a video of LaMarr at the Animation Supercon discussing Futurama).

And since what LaMarr says specifically pertains to this report, I’ll repeat it here:

“[T]he new episodes, in my opinion, are the best yet,” says LaMarr. “They’re really, really funny. Some of them are really, really thoughtful as well. The guys have come back to the show with renewed energy. The writers and producers. And they’re happy to be back, and know the world and the characters so well that they’re able to…it feels like they’re better at it. They’re able to do more with it than they were before.”

- Spike TV/Comedy Central press rep Melissa Sugiura tweeted Feb. 9th: “Heading to the set of #futurama. Looking forward to checking out my first voice recording session!”

…and afterwards posted a a couple follow-ups:

@kitchelfilms great meeting you today, so great to see it all in action. congrats on a very funny episode!

@gotfuturama @slurmed i had an awesome time! i can’t wait to see it all put together when we air it!”

- Thanks to Twitter-er @kitchelfilms (one of the Futurama writers, whose identity I don’t know at the moment), we have photos of the cast in-studio recording the episode “The Silence of the Clamps.”:

Phil LaMarr and Maurice LaMarche
John DiMaggio
Lauren Tom and Tress MacNeille
Katey Sagal
LaMarche and DiMaggio
David X. Cohen directing the cast
DiMaggio and Billy West

Finally, according to “kitchelfilms” (in response to my previous report that Futurama was “currently casting”), unfortunately Futurama “isn’t casting voice actors.”

To stay informed of future developments on Futurama’s sixth season, please visit TheInfosphere.org (The Futurama Wiki).

Additional Sources: Except where noted, most of the above news items are courtesy of the fans on the Futurama forum PEELIFIED.com — The Planet Express Employee Lounge. Nice work keeping fans updated, PEEL members!

Related post: 7.17.2010 — Futurama Cast Full Coverage


February Celebrity Voice Acting Round-Up

02.10.2010

I’ll continue to update this page throughout the month of February.

As always, readers can stay informed of all blog updates/additions via Twitter (@voiceroy) and Facebook. I also regularly post celebrity voice news items through Facebook and Twitter which I don’t publish on the blog.

Update: 2.19.2010

- Via Animated Views by Ben Price: Premiering on HBO Friday, Feb. 19th at 9PM is The Ricky Gervais Show, an animated version of the Guinness World Record-holder for “most downloaded podcast.” It features the voices of comedian/actor Ricky Gervais (popular BBC sitcom The Office), Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. You can watch the first full episode online at HBO.com.

- Via TVSquad.com: Gilbert Gottfried now has a new title to add to his credit: “TV pitchman,” as the spokesperson for “ShoeDini”:

- Via LA Times’ Hero Complex: Rockers Gene Simmons and David Lee Roth howled for “Wolfman” film vocal effects.

- Added two photos to the press release for Goodspeed Musicals gala event honoring Paul Williams.

- Via Zachary-Levi.com: Disney’s Rapunzel changes title (again) to “Tangled.” (Currently confirmed voice cast previously reported here.)

- Via DivineCaroline: “Name That Voice: 10 Celebrity Commercial Voice-Overs.”

- Via WalletPop: “The Celebrity Voices Behind the Commercials.”

- Via DailyFill.com: “15 Secret Celebrity Voice Overs.”

- Via toonzone.net: Archer‘s Aisha Tyler (The Boondocks, The Wild) and series creator Adam Reed (Frisky Dingo, Sealab 2021) discuss the show and the voice cast.

Update: 2.15.2010

The LA Times Hero Complex blog has an interview with Tim Burton discussing Barbara Windsor, who voices the Dormouse in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

In related news, there will be an Alice in Wonderland “fan event” in Hollywood on Feb. 19th with in-person appearances by Tim Burton and “some cast members” whose names have yet to be announced. Hero Complex has more details on the event.

The world premiere of Alice in Wonderland will take place in London on Feb. 25th. Expected to attend the red carpet event: Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Avril Lavigne, Alan Rickman, Anne Hathaway, Christopher Lee, Mia Wasikowska, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Timothy Spall, Paul Whitehouse, Barbara Windsor and Michael Sheen.

Other details on the film were previously reported below.

Update: 2.14.2010

- Via toonzone.net: Saturday Night Live’s Chris Parnell will guest star on Nick at Nite’s Feb. 15th episode of Glen Martin D.D.S. as the voice of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

- Comics/TV/film writer/producer Neil Gaiman says via his blog that he will be providing a voice for an upcoming episode of the PBS’ kids show Arthur. As of his Jan. 21st post, he had only received the script and does not mention when he would be recording. [Source: toonzone.net]

- PBS kids show WordGirl has an impressive voice cast which includes many celebrity guest voices such as Ed Asner, Elliot Gould, Peter Graves, John C. McGinley and Jeffrey Tambor. Read my review of the show here.

Update: 2.13.2010:

- Reuters reports:

James Marsden has signed on to star opposite Russell Brand in “I Hop,” a live-action/computer-animated hybrid comedy.

Tim Hill, who directed the hybrid “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” is pushing his resume into hipper territory with this tale of an out-of-work slacker (Marsden) who accidentally injures the Easter Bunny (voiced by Brand) and must take him in as he recovers. As Fred struggles with the world’s worst houseguest, both will learn what it takes to finally grow up.

I’ve never heard of a movie being named after an actual restaurant chain, but I guess there’s a first time for everything? I predict this “working title” doesn’t last three months.

- TV.com has an interview with Tim Daly, voice of Superman in Superman: The Animated Series and Batman/Superman: Public Enemies. He indirectly discusses his voiceover work and briefly mentions his role as Superman:

Q: You’ve done a little bit of everything in television—hour-long network drama, sitcoms, voiceovers for animation, TV movies, prestige cable shows. Is there any format you like working in more than others?

Q: No. Every step, every character, every medium has its own particular challenges, but essentially, I consider my job finding a way to tell the truth, to deliver the truth to people in a way that effects them, that makes them say, “Wow, that moved me or enlightened me or made me laugh.” I think that’s the job of pretty much any artist. We listen to music and it makes us weep—why? Because it speaks truth to us. I think TV should be the same way. It should strike a chord in us where we say, “That struck a human chord in me and it moved me.”

Q: So it’s not all just a let-down after playing Superman?

A: [laughs] Well, a little bit. I mean, come on, it’s Superman, after all. Superman was a great role, and I loved doing it, and I would welcome doing it more, especially with Andrea Romano, who’s such a great director. I hope that opportunity presents itself again.

- Via SeattleWeekly.com: Simpsons‘ creator Matt Groening and cast member Hank Azaria will appear as guest judges on the upcoming seventh season of Top Chef. It is not known when the show will air; production is scheduled to begin in April 2010.

- On December 22, 2009, Atari/Cryptic Studios issued a press release announcing that Leonard Nimoy would be narrating the intro as well as key scenes and events throughout the game for Star Trek Online (which released Feb. 2nd):

“I am happy to be involved with Star Trek Online. In this game, the essence of Star Trek – exploration and adventure – lives long and prospers,” said Nimoy. “I’m pleased that a whole new generation of fans will be able to discover new frontiers in the Star Trek universe.”

IGN.com has footage of Nimoy’s voiceover session for the game.

NVISION Magazine Winter 2010 issue.

Elsewhere, Nimoy is interviewed in the Winter 2010 print issue of NVISION Magazine which includes an 8-page feature on the game. The magazine is available on newsstands through March 2nd, 2010 and can also be ordered online.

On Dec. 12, 2009, Zachary Quinto, who played Spock in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie, announced at the Spike Video Game Awards that he would be the “the voice of” Star Trek Online. He does not, however, reprise his role as Spock. According to a Jan. 27th interview on Wired.com, Quinto “provides the voice for a holographic doctor — the Emergency Medical Hologram Mark VI…[new] players of the MMO will hear Quinto’s voice as they make their way through the game’s opening tutorial.”

Quinto also discussed the game in a Feb. 2nd interview with the New York Daily News, and IGN.com has footage of Quinto’s voiceover session. SciFiWire.com has a video interview with Quinto detailing his voice work on the game.

- Voice cast info on some upcoming animated films and live-action/CGI features:

> Alice in Wonderland (March 5th, 2010): I’ll bypass mentioning the main stars in the Tim Burton-directed *sequel* to the Lewis Carroll classic children’s novel since you’ve likely seen your fill of them in recent TV ads. What I’m personally looking forward to hearing/seeing are the performances by Crispin Glover as The Knave of Hearts, Stephen Fry as The Cheshire Cat, Christopher Lee as The Jabberwock, Alan Rickman as The Caterpillar and Matt Lucas as both Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

> The Hero of Color City: No specific release date has been announced yet, but this computer-animated film from Magnolia Pictures is supposed to be released sometime in 2010. According to IMDb.com, it will feature the voices of Christina Ricci as “Yellow,” David Kaye (Transformers Beast Wars, Beast Machines) as “Black,” and Craig Ferguson and Rosie Perez in yet-unannounced voice roles.

> Guardians of Ga’Hoole (September 24, 2010): Based on the popular children’s book series, this film has been generating some advance buzz based on the voice cast which includes Emilie de Ravin, Hugo Weaving, Helen Mirren, Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Jim Sturgess and Miriam Margolyes. (Complete voice cast linked via IMDb on the movie title above.)

> Holy Cow! (release date unknown): Variety first reported March 5th, 2009 that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would voice a Texas steer in this computer-animated feature and I have yet to see any announcements since. The film doesn’t even have an IMDb page. I guess maybe this one has fizzled like the Johnny Bravo live-action movie starring Johnson that was announced back in 2004.

> Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (July 30, 2010): This is a sequel to the 2001 live-action/CGI talking-animal film, but only a handful of the original cast reprise their roles. According to IMDb.com, returning to voice their canine characters are Alec Baldwin (Butch), Michael Clarke Duncan (Sam) and Joe Pantoliano (Peek), while Bette Midler voices the villain Kitty Galore with Carlos Alazraqui (Reno 911, Camp Lazlo, The Fairly Odd Parents) in a supporting role as the voice of “Cool Cat.” IMDb lists comedian/actor Paul Rodriguez as “Crazy Carlito,” but does not specify whether the role is voice-only.

I know the original was your average kids/family film, but I admit I enjoyed it..mainly for nostalgic reasons: the first dog I ever owned in grade school was a beagle, so I must admit I’m disappointed that Lou (as voiced by Tobey McGuire) does not appear to be returning for the sequel. And other favorite noteworthy performances from the original don’t seem to be returning either: Sean Hayes (Mr. Tinkles), Jon Lovitz (Calico) and voice actors Danny Mann and Billy West as the Ninja cats.

> Yogi Bear (December 15, 2010): *Sigh* Why, Warner Bros…why would you do this? Oh yeah, money…that’s why. At any rate, it features the motion capture performances and voices of Dan Aykroyd (Yogi), Justin Timberlake (Boo-Boo) [yikes!], and Christine Taylor (Cindy). I’m not looking forward to this movie. I will wait to see the reviews, but even then chances are slim that I will ever watch it.

In unfortunately related news, LA Times‘ Hero Complex blog reports that Warner Bros has named Alex Zamm to direct its planned live-action/CGI Marvin the Martian feature film. (Zamm is also contracted to helm yet another similar feature for Hong Kong Phooey.) Two TV writers — Paul Kaplan and Mark Torgove — have also signed on for the Marvin screenplay (who in turn are writing the CHiPS remake).

The LA Times says that the producers are “talking to a number of stars” and mentions Mike Myers as “one name that’s come up.”

I guess there really is no animated property that’s safe from this sort of treatment.

- toonzone.net reports that David Spade is in talks with cable channel TBS to develop an animated series based on the Joe Dirt feature film.

Hey, TBS! If you’re going to produce an animated series based on a feature film and expect it to be successful, you might want to pick a film that was actually good.

- Via toonzone.net: Olympic figure skating champion Michelle Kwan will guest star on Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Sunday, February 21, 2010, at 7:00 PM (Eastern).

- toonzone.net reports (via Adult Swim press release) that Robot Chicken has been renewed for two more seasons, with an “unprecedented” order for 40 new episodes. toonzone adds, “No information was provided on when the new seasons will begin production or when they will air.”

Says co-creator Seth Green in the press release: “We’re very excited,” says Green, “we never expected to do a second season, let alone a fifth and sixth, so we are thrilled by the audience response and how the show continues to grow internationally.” Matt Senreich says, “We love Adult Swim. It’s really that simple. From the get-go, we’ve always said that Robot Chicken was a show where we play with friends and we look forward to doing that for years to come!”

And I’ll add that it could be a really long before we see new episodes since Green and Senreich along with Tom Root are developing an untitled pilot for FOX (previously reported here).

- Leonardo DiCaprio will narrate the NASA space documentary Hubble 3D. The film arrives in theaters March 19th, 2010.

And some of my own celebrity-related reports outside of this article:

- 2.13.2010 — Toy Story 3 Cast News (Woody’s) Round-Up

- 2.13.2010 — Paul Williams Honored

- 2.11.2010 — Jonathan Winters Rumored to voice Papa Smurf

- 2.11.2010 — Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Cheryl Hines and Star Trek‘s George Takei guest star on the 2-part season finale of The Superhero Squad Show. (Link includes interviews with Hines and Tom Kenny.) Mark Hamill also guest-starred in January as the voice of the Red Skull.

- 2.11.2010 — Next Animated DC DVD: Batman: Under the Red Hood (which includes cast info).

- 2.11.2010 — Neil Patrick Harris Guests on Nick’s ‘Penguins’

- 2.11..2010 — In a Futurama Cast Round-Up of news on the upcoming sixth season of the show, I reported that late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson will guest on the second episode of the new season.

Update: 2.11.2010:

- Robin Williams, Hank Azaria and Elijah Wood have recently been in Sydney, Australia recording dialog and filming motion capture for the computer-animated Happy Feet II. On Feb. 9th, Williams gave an impromptu stand-up performance in a Sydney bar and received a standing ovation.

On a related note, Movieline.com reported Jan. 15th that Matt Damon and Brad Pitt had also been cast in the film, although Warner Bros has declined to confirm this. Movieline says their sources state that both Damon and Pitt were in the studio recording dialog for the film that week.

It is assumed that “Gloria,” the character voiced by the late Brittany Murphy, will return for the sequel because Murphy had plans in early December 2009 to fly to Sydney with Elijah Wood to record the dialog, and then afterwards was allegedly fired by Warner Bros. There has been no announcement since whether Gloria’s role in the sequel will be cut or if Warner Bros will cast a replacement.

- Added another update to my August 2009 news on DreamWorks’ computer-animated superhero adventure, MegaMind (formerly “Oobermind,” which was originally “Master Mind”).

- The live-action/CGI hybrid Marmaduke, voiced by Owen Wilson, arrives in theaters June 10, 2010 and features the voices of Steve Coogan, Ron Perlman, Jeremy Piven, Fergie, George Lopez, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Thomas F. Wilson, Emma Stone, Damon Wayans and Marlon Wayans.

- Movieweb.com attended DreamWorks’ 2010 film presentation on Jan. 15th, and for those who enjoy spoilers Movieweb describes the action from previews of the upcoming computer-animated films MegaMind, Shrek Forever After and How to Train Your Dragon.

Shrek Forever After features returning cast members Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. Other confirmed cast members: Kathy Griffin and Kristin Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) as ogre-hunting witches, Jane Lynch (Glee), Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as the ogre leader of an underground resistance group, Megan Fox (Transformers film series) as a princess, and Walt Dohrn as Rumpelstiltskin [Dorhn voiced several incidental characters in Shrek the Third].

Wikipedia has an alleged “confirmed cast” list, but its validity is already challenged by listing Beatles’ frontman Paul McCartney as the voice of Rumpelstiltskin which the USA Today refuted in a Nov. 2009 article.

And here’s the most recent trailer (as of this writing):

And DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon arrives in theaters March 25th, featuring the Movieweb-confirmed voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wigg. Chris Sanders, who wrote and directed (and voiced) Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, is the film’s co-writer and co-director.

Originally posted 2.10.2010:

- Kevin McKidd, who plays Poseidon in the feature film Percy Jackson and the Olympians, revealed in an interview on DailyRecord.co.uk that he was “asked to provide a voice in Pixar’s Scottish animated movie, The Bear And The Bow,” which will feature the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson.

McKidd adds, “[My son was delighted that I'm] doing a voice in a Pixar film. I haven’t done the recordings yet so I’ll know more in March when I start. I’m dead excited about it – and that I’m working with Billy Connolly.”

- Via Adweek: Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall is the image voice for the Dodge Charger.

- Via TheFlickCast.com: Ron Perlman narrates the trailer for Fallout: New Vegas video game.

- Via toonzone.net: T.C. Carson, voice of Kratos in the God of War video game series, will be doing a signing Feb. 14th at Rose Bowl Comics in Pasedena, CA.

- Via ComicBookResources.com: Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Cheryl Hines voices Stardust, herald of Galactus, on the 2-part season finale of The Superhero Squad Show airing Feb. 13th and 20th at 7:30 PM on Cartoon Network.

Says Hines of her voice acting experience:

The first time you do this, it’s such a strange feeling, because you’re in this booth that has this big glass window and there are usually, I don’t know, five to eight people on the other side staring at you with their headphones on. You can’t really hear what they’re saying, unless they want you to hear what they’re saying, and then they push a little button and say something to you. Otherwise, you’ll do a take and see them all talking. “Oh no, what’s going on in there?” Then they’ll push the button and go, “That was good, but let’s just try it one more time.” [Laughs] They’re always super calm when they talk to you, because they don’t want you getting rattled.

I remember the first time I did it, I was sweating. You’re not sure if you’re doing it right. You don’t really know what you’re doing. After you do a few [takes], you realize that there’s actually no right or wrong. The people on the other side of the glass, they’re listening and they’re really good at imagining the world that you’re creating.

You are so exhausted at the end of recording something like this. It’s very draining. I mean, let’s be honest, I’m not digging ditches, but your whole body is all tense and you’re trying to get it right and you’re so in it and concentrating so hard for three or four hours at a time. When it’s over, it feels like you just ran a marathon. Plus, with everybody’s eyes all on you, everyone’s listening to every little swallow, and God help you if you have any other body noises. [Laughs] It can be very stressful! But it’s weird. It’s a different way of working.

- Via CreativeLoafing.com: Aisha Tyler (Archer, Boondocks, The Wild) discusses voice acting:

Creative Loafing: You’re currently doing the voice for the character Lana Kane on the animated TV show Archer. What’s that like?

Aisha Tyler: Well, I have done a good number of animated parts already; a show called the The Boondocks that Aaron McGruder created for Adult Swim, shows for the Disney channel, and also a big Disney movie, The Wild. So, I’ve done a good amount, but this is the first time I have done a series. It’s great. It’s much easier than regular TV. You don’t have to do hair and make-up and you just get to go into a booth. The workload is cake, and it’s really fun actually.

CL: How is that working right now with your comedy tour kicking off?

AT: We finished all the episodes for this season. But, what’s great about voice-overs is that as long as you have access to a high quality sound booth in any city, we’re able to do it from any part of the country. So, it’s not too difficult.

- toonzone.net reports that Classic Media and Vivendi Entertainment will release a brand new animated direct-to-DVD title, Kung Fu Magoo, on May 11th. It features the voices of:

Jim Conroy (Celebrity Death Match, Grand Theft Auto IV) as Mr. Magoo
Dylan & Cole Sprouse (The Suite Life of Zack & Cody)
Alyson Stoner (Camp Rock)
Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live)
Kenny Mayne (Dancing With The Stars)
Fred Travalena (Bogey from Shirt Tales)

Also on May 11th, Classic/Vivendi will release the 1964 Magoo classic, Mr. Magoo in Sherwood Forest, starring the original voice of Mr. Magoo, Jim Backus (Gilligan’s Island).

TVShowsonDVD.com has a look at the cover art for both titles.

- BBC.co.uk has an interview with Family Guy’s Mike Henry discussing the celebrity guest voices featured on the Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show, which include Kanye West, T-Pain, will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas), U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr and film director David Lynch.

Henry says of Kanye:

Kanye could not be a cooler guy at our show – we do definitely have some jokes where he makes light of himself.

He does some things out in public that stir up controversy and opinions. He knew that and we contacted him and he was totally up for doing the part. He’s a recurring character [as Kenny West]. He does an extended rap-off with Cleveland Jnr in an episode first season and he and Cleveland hook up and do another rap in season two.

The first time we had actually written a rap for him. Five of our writers sat down to write this rap and they were like, ‘I wonder how he’s going to like it?’.

But he was genuinely laughing. He very humbly asked if we could change one line which didn’t feel right. He was even joking that we should write a song for his next album.

T-Pain and will.i.am will play Cleveland Jr.’s sidekicks in season 2. “We just recorded [will.i.am] last week and he was absolutely hilarious,” Henry says. “He could do his own animated show he’s got so many voices.”

Of Larry Mullen Jr. Henry says, “We just recorded him doing a couple of different parts and he was very funny. He plays a mobster in one episode; he plays a bad Elvis impersonator by design in another episode. He’s got his own studio so we just record it from Dublin. You don’t have to record at a certain time. It’s an easy gig and one that people like to do.”

Henry adds, “It’s very cool to have all these people from different walks of entertainment participating in what we’re doing.”

A related interview with Cleveland Show executive producer Rich Appel on HollywoodReporter.com mentions that this Sunday’s episode (2.14) guest stars the Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie, and adds that episode 16 in season 2 will feature guest stars Carl Reiner, will.i.am and T-Pain.

- Via toonzone.net: …and speaking of T-Pain, he spoke with ABCNews.com about his role in Freaknik: The Musical, a hip-hop animated musical scheduled to air on Adult Swim March 7, 2010 (previously reported here) The much-hyped special also features the voices of Rick Ro$$, Andy Samberg, Lil’ Wayne, Bill Hader, Kelis, Snoop Dogg, George Clinton, Young Cash, Sophia Fresh and Charlie Murphy.

Additional sources: IMDb.com, Wikipedia.org, Screenhead.com, Wikipedia’s 2010 in film

Related posts:
- 12.11.2009 — Dec-Jan Celebrity Voice Acting Round-Up
- 1.28.2010 — VAs on DVD: January-February 2010 Feature


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