Voiceover Career Event in NYC on September 22nd

08.26.2010

For Immediate Release

That's Voiceover (banner coutesy Push Creative Entertainment)

THAT’S VOICEOVER – NATION’S TOP VOICEOVER ACTORS REVEAL CAREER SECRETS FOR CHARITY

In New York, NY on September 22, 2010, an expert panel of top voice-over actors, talent agents and ad executives will provide a crash course for those seeking careers in the exciting world of voiceover acting. And one lucky audience member will win a chance to become the voice of an on-air TV promo for a network station and win Hollywood representation with TGMD Talent Agency. Proceeds from the event benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Author of Secrets of Voice-Over Success, Joan Baker and Late Night with David Letterman announcer, Alan Kalter host an entertaining evening of information, an American Idol-styled audition (complete with industry executives as judges) and a chance for job seekers to meet the industry buyers who provide the jobs.

Attendees will also meet and hear from the talented voices behind TV and radio ads for THE E-TRADE BABY, THE SIMPSONS, LAW & ORDER, THE OSCARS and EMMYS, DEAL or NO DEAL, AMERICAN IDOL, the NBC OLYMPIC GAMES, HBO, SHOWTIME, VERIZON WIRELESS and many others. These consummate pros will separate the facts from the fictions about breaking into the voiceover biz. Even seasoned voiceover actors will find incredible guidance as the conversation will include best practices for enhancing careers in an industry of changing trends.

AFTRA, BACK STAGE Magazine, Neumann USA, Voicebank.Net, Dale Pro Audio, and TGMD Talent Agency are major sponsors in what has been a growing effort by Push Creative Advertising to expand employment opportunities in the exciting and often lucrative field of voiceover acting. And, as is the case with Joan Baker’s breakthrough book, Secrets of Voice-Over Success, proceeds from this event will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Voiceover acting has long been the most intriguing, anonymous and off-the-radar crafts in the entertainment industry. But the surprisingly large interest among people from all walks of life has been slowly encouraging industry insiders like Emmy Award-winning producer and CEO of Push Creative Advertising, Rudy Gaskins to respond to the need. Says GASKINS, “It pretty much began with Joan Baker’s Secrets of Voice-over Success (foreword by David Hyde Pierce). This book is the first to provide a practical, step by step guide through the eyes of numerous successful voiceover actors, including the late great DON LA FONTAINE, Tony Award-winner, JIM DALE, Emmy Award-winner RICHARD THOMAS, radio personality VALERIE SMALDONE and JOE CIPRIANO who took home the first annual 2010 DON LAFONTAINE LEGACY AWARD sponsored by PROMAX BDA.”

That's Voiceover (Banner coutesy Push Creative Entertainment)

Other panelists include Bill Ratner (voices on G.I. Joe, Family Guy, Robot Chicken, Mass Effect), Tor Myhren, CCO of Grey Advertising, Miranda Patterson, Creative Director for NBC Universal, and Jeffrey Weinstock, SVP Creative Services for Disney. “In a historically challenging economy where jobs are scarce and people are seeking to diversify their options, we’re bringing together the industry insiders who know what it takes to succeed.” says Gaskins. Joan Baker adds, “THAT’S VOICEOVER is first and foremost a career event. The award of an actual job in this context is an industry first. It bolsters our mission to elevate the conversation and point people in the right direction.”

And this year, thanks to Lee Minard, director of creative services for KLAS CBS Las Vegas, one lucky attendee will win a chance to book an actual job voicing an on-air TV spot. “With top industry executives helming the judges table, attendees will get an unprecedented glimpse into how voices are selected and how to be ready when the call comes their way.” says Gaskins.

Complete event details are available at THATSVOICEOVER.COM and TheTimesCenter.com.

Thanks to Push Creative Entertainment for the press release and images. We previously mentioned this event 8.19.2010 via Twitter.

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


Craig’s Craigslist Guide for Performers

01.05.2010

The following article was originally published 1.05.2010 and has since been updated to include new info and updates on known scammers who troll for naive people to exploit via Craigslist.

I’ve been publishing this blog for 10 years as a service to my fellow voice actor fans, and I rarely post about my personal life to avoid appearing self-promotional. (If you actually have an interest in reading about me, click the “About the Blogger” tab above or visit my quirky and random VoxInSox personal blog.)

But I have been working solely as a performer since May 2008 (thanks to the “wonderful” U.S. economy) and one of my resources for finding work has been through Craigslist.org.

Now I realize that for some the mere mention of the site causes audible groans, acid reflux and possibly diarrhea too. I’ve heard some dismiss Craigslist outright as crap and/or say it’s nothing more than a giant cave where spammers and scammers lurk and try to lure the foolish and naive to their doom. And to a certain degree, I agree.

However, there is legitimate, paid work on Craigslist. You just have to learn how to filter through the crap, and I have plenty of experience with that… er, with Craigslist, that is. (I leave the physical handling of crap to trained professionals like Mike Rowe.)

The guide that follows was originally developed for performers in general, which I realize is not voice actor-specific and could be taken as somewhat “off-topic” for this blog. However, I know plenty of voice actors who scan Craigslist for VO work, as well as aspiring voice actors/beginners looking to gain more experience (and hopefully extra income). And the primary reason I took the time to write this guide is to help others avoid getting scammed, spammed or exploited via Craigslist.

This guide came about through years of personal experience scanning Craigslist ads to find work. It’s my misfortune that I learned through trial and error, but I’m the wiser for it and now you can benefit from my mistakes.

Craig’s Craigslist Guide for Performers

1. Avoid postings with obvious typos.

In my experience with Craigslist, posts which are full of typos, grammar errors and/or in ALLCAPS usually turn out to be crap. A minor typo or two is forgivable — mistakes do happen.

However, glaringly obvious and repeated errors in a casting notice on Craigslist are just plain tacky and unprofessional. They shouldn’t expect to be taken seriously if they can’t bother to proofread prior to posting.

AND NO ONE WANTS TO FEEL LIKE THEY’RE BEING YELLED AT WHEN THEY READ! Anything posted in ALLCAPS is not only hard on the eyes but to me says that the person who posted it is lazy and oblivious.

Ads with obvious errors like these tend to be common red flags for known scammers and spammers or projects produced by unprofessional people you don’t want to be involved with anyway.

2. Google Search is your friend.

If the post includes a phone number, physical location address, website, e-mail address, company/agency or individual’s full name, use Google Search to verify their legitimacy.

And on a related note: when researching phone numbers and e-mail addresses, if you note duplicate or similar listings in multiple regions, it’s often a sure sign of a spammer/scammer.

3. Do a background check.

If there is a company name and/or website listed, check with the Better Business Bureau — www.BBB.org — to make sure they don’t already have complaints filed against them before you submit. Other similar consumer-resource sites may also help, such as scam.com, ripoffreport.com, and easybackgroundcheck.com.

4. Check the link BEFORE you click.

If there is a website address in the ad, hold your cursor over the link before clicking to see what shows up as the actual URL in the bottom-left corner of your browser. This should work with both Firefox and Internet Explorer web browsers, or you can right-click on the link and scroll down to “Properties” to reveal the actual URL. Spammers and scammers are known to disguise URLs by encoding them with hidden elements or by using a redirect URL.

One site in particular is a repeat offender with this method of deceit: ExploreTalent.com. Just a quick Google search for “Explore Talent Scam” yields over 29,000 results with red flags galore: fraud reports with BBB.org, ripoffreport.com and many related sites and forums, including a well-researched blog report that was created just to warn others about this site and how to avoid getting ripped off by them.

Explore Talent masks their identity in Craigslist postings under many various domains they have registered and other redirect URLs (list compiled by Explore Talent Scam Fraud Reviews):

auditions.com
castingaudition.com
auditionsforfilms.com
actingauditions.net
casting-call.us
freecastingcall.com
explore-talent.net
exploretalent.info
exploretalent.org
explortalent.com
explore-talent.info
explore-talent.biz
exploretalent.mobi

In December 2009, Explore Talent appears to have launched a massive web marketing propaganda campaign via Twitter and every single blog service and social networking site available in attempt to discredit sources which have cited them for fraud and other unscrupulous practices, including BBB.org and ripoffreport.com.

Each “blog” contains the same exact post, and like the ads they post on Craigslist, they’re full of crap.

5. Check with your peeps.

Make inquiry with your fellow performers via message board/forum to verify whether a company/agency/website/casting notice is legitimate…or not. I recommend the following forums (which I am also a member of):

6. Dummy e-mail accounts protect you from dummies.

Create a separate e-mail address (like Gmail) just for submitting for projects via Craigslist, and thus keep your regular, personal e-mail account spam-free.

7. No pay? No duh!

If there’s no mention of pay yet it doesn’t specifically say “no pay,” don’t bother e-mailing them to ask because there probably isn’t any. Trust me on this. My theory is that most notices that don’t mention pay are doing so deliberately so you will contact them to ask, and then they own your contact info to use and abuse.

8. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Yes, I know how clichéd that sounds, but this is also Craigslist we’re talking about here and it’s the truth.

9. Better safe than sorry.

Another cliché, but you really cannot be too cautious submitting via Craigslist for anything. And not just in submitting, but auditioning as well. If the venue turns out to be someone’s home (as has happened with me a few times), ask to meet them first in a very public place like a local coffee shop or food court in a mall. And I’d even suggest taking a friend with you too, just to be safe.

Some ads you’ll I.D. immediately as crazy, like this “Drunk Santa” ad I shared on TSCC. But sometimes Craigslist posts may appear legitimate and turn out to be total wackos, like what members have posted on VO-BB.com here and here about “sneezing” audition scams where fetishists were exploiting female voice talents. No joke. It’s too weird to make this stuff up. Voice actor Bobbin Beam also blogged about this back in March 2008.

That said, looking for work on Craigslist requires lots of caution and a great deal of discernment. And even taking extra precautions, I’ve still gotten spammed on occasion. But I’ll tell you that using the above methods really does help cut through the crap…which is an appropriate transition to my final point.

10. Craigslist is full of crap.

Seriously. I even joke with others that looking for legit acting work on Craigslist is like looking for gold in the sewer: most of it’s crap, but every now and then you find a nugget…which still might turn out to be crap too, or it looks like gold but turns out to be fool’s gold.

Jokes aside, I have booked many paid gigs through Craigslist in the last few years: product demo jobs, event hosting gigs, some decent-paying voiceover work, background work for film/TV, and performing as an entertainer for live events.

Granted, there’s a small percentage of return on your investment of time spent browsing and submitting, but those who audition for projects regularly should be accustomed to those odds anyway. And over time (and using this guide), you’ll find you can filter the crap quickly, especially when you tweak your searches. You just have to decide if it’s worth your time to sort through the crap to find the work. And as my dad liked to say, “It’s not work unless your hands get dirty.”

Closing notes:

I first published a rough draft of this guide on The Southern Casting Call, though it was more like simple suggestions then. I later revised and expanded it for the Shofax Forum on ActorsAccess.com. Afterwards I was asked to make this guide available outside the forums as a linkable resource, so there you go.

Feel free to share this guide with others, and links and pingbacks are both welcome and greatly appreciated, but please do not copy/paste this guide verbatim elsewhere without requesting permission in advance.

~ Craig Crumpton
Publisher, Voice Actors in the News


SlateV Tests Your Ear for Celebrity Voices

01.02.2010

From SlateV.com:

The ’00s were the decade in which movie stars discovered how to make big money in TV commercials without actually having to appear on screen [via] uncredited voiceovers.

Click here for their video trivia challenge featuring 10 celebrity voices. (I scored an 8 out of 10.)

Watching this video, I was reminded of another article from Slate.com dated March 28, 2005 — The voice-over gets a make-over —  in which the writer admits that he “never paid much attention to voice-overs,” yet even in 2005 he noted the industry trend toward celebrity voice casting and its impact on what the writer refers to as “non-celebrity” voice actors:

There’s no stigma attached to doing voice work anymore. It’s low-stress (no make-up or hairstyling), and with the residuals it can be amazingly lucrative. So, stars are popping up all over the place: Richard Dreyfuss for Honda. Julia Roberts for AOL. Gene Hackman for Oppenheimer Funds and Lowe’s.

How many viewers actually pick up on these famous voices? A few. And when they do, it lends a shimmer of endorsement to the brand. By now, you’re probably aware that it’s Julia Roberts’ voice in the AOL ads (either because you’ve read something, friends have clued you in, or you’ve recognized her voice on your own). This is the next best thing to having Roberts appear in an AOL ad—which will never happen.

The upshot here is that work is getting scarcer for non-celebrity voice-over artists. And the very nature of the job is changing. Agencies now ask for voice types by naming a celebrity (e.g., “We’re looking for a Rob Morrow sound here”), where they used to just ask for adjectives (like “authoritative” or “honest”). Voice-over pros must now keep track of what popular stars sound like—and determine which ones they can imitate.

I recommend reading the complete article — still very relevant today (especially for beginners and professionals) as it addresses the now-dated announcery-type sound, how to give a “celebrity read,” clients’ preference for younger-sounding voices, the expanding talent pool, and the talent’s approach to reading copy.

And on a related note, I’d like to take this opportunity to plug Campaign for Real Voices, a Facebook group “dedicated to convincing the big wigs in Hollywood to hire REAL Voice Actors to do the voice over work for their movies and games.”

The idea for this group was sparked from anime and video game voice actor Kyle Hebert‘s live chat on Stickam. Within a very short time, the group has accumulated more than 1,300 members, including 50+ professional voice actors such as noted animation VAs Michael Bell, Bob Bergen, Garry Chalk, Chris Patton, Wendee Lee, Tara Strong and Paul Eiding (just to name a few).

This is a campaign I fully support and endorse, with hopes that it will have positive impact on what has unfortunately become a celebrity-favored industry, especially in animation where “celebrities” are cast simply for their celebrity status and their presumed box office impact whereas those roles should go to the actors who give the best audition, are the best fit for the character and have the experience to back it up.

Related posts:
- 12.11.2009 — Celebrity Voice Acting Round-Up
- 8.28.2009 — Car and Driver Says Celebs are ‘Taking Over Car Commercials’
- 7.07.2009 — Trend Changing in Celebrity Voice Casting?


‘Family Guy’ Cast Guests on ‘Inside The Actors Studio”

09.15.2009

Bravo’s Season 16 episode of Inside The Actors Studio featuring the cast of Family Guy premiered on Monday, September 14th with host James Lipton interviewing Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Mike Henry and Seth Green (previously reported here back in April). Eight video excerpts from this episode are available online at BravoTV.com.

Lipton described this episode on his blog thusly: “I recommend seatbelts in your armchairs as the creator and cast of “Family Guy” assemble on our stage for a hilarious, irreverent look at themselves, each other, their characters and their spectacularly successful show. This is, quite simply, unlike any Inside the Actors Studio you’ve ever seen.”

Bravo will air an encore presentation of this episode on Sunday, September 20th at 10:00 AM (EST). Check your local listings for showtimes in your area.

Additionally, the Monday September 21st episode of Inside The Actors Studio will feature Saturday Night Live star Amy Poehler. Poehler is the co-creator of Nickelodeon’s hit animated series The Mighty B!, and also voices the title character. Poehler will also voice Eleanor in the upcoming Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and has voiced characters in Monsters vs Aliens, Horton Hears A Who!, Shrek The Third, and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Several preview clips from Poehler’s episode (which airs 9.21 at 7:00 PM EST) are also available on BravoTV.com.


There be dragons here…

09.05.2009

Just giving a heads-up that there will be limited-to-no updates until sometime next week due to my attendance at Dragon*Con 2009 in Atlanta, GA as a reporter for Toon Zone.

However, I will have reports from all the voice actor-related panels plus photos to share when I’m able to finally get some sleep after the convention ends.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting nightly news updates with D-Con coverage at Toon Zone through Monday, and already in Friday night’s post there are some details of interest to voice actor enthusiasts.

Voice actor guests at this convention include:

C. Martin Croker
Charlie Fleischer
Neil Kaplan
Richard Epcar
Scott Houle
Bob Bergen
Vic Mignogna
Dana Snyder
Unknown Hinson
Bobby Ellerby
Dave Willis
Jay Edwards
Ron Glass
Rick Forrester
Michael Brady
Doc Hammer
Jackson Publick
Alessandro Juliani
Scott Adsit
George Lowe

And some of the “celebrity” guests who have also performed voice-overs for various TV/film productions:

Patrick Stewart
William Shatner
Leonard Nimoy
Malcolm McDowell
Anthony Daniels
Dwight Schultz
Peter Jurasik
Lani John Tapu
James Marsters
Edward James Almos
Dean Haglund

And the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company is making their annual appearance and live performance at D-Con as well.

And there are likely a few guests I’m omitting, but I’m in a bit of a rush at the moment. And normally, I’d include some of their voice credits in parentheses, but I actually need to leave for the con… like, 10 minutes ago. You can view the full 2009 Dragon*Con guest list (and their credits) at Dragoncon.org.


The Jim Cummings Interview: Outtakes, Photos and Biography

09.03.2009

Jim Cummings in an undated publicity photo. (Photo credit: Disney PR)

Jim Cummings in an undated publicity photo. (Photo credit: Disney PR)


Toon Zone has published my interview with cartoon voice acting legend Jim Cummings, originally conducted by phone July 28th just prior to the August 4th DVD release of The Tigger Movie 10th Anniversary Edition.

In this candid and extensive interview, Jim discusses The Tigger Movie; his process for performing voice matches/sound-alikes; his role as Ray the firefly in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (and the controversies surrounding the film); his Daytime Emmy nomination; Sterling Holloway (Pooh’s original voice); Phil Harris (Disney’s Jungle Book, Robin Hood); his cameo in the live-action Comic Book: The Movie; and the infamous “Carol Channing Story.”

I’m also pleased to announce that Jim’s full audio from this interview will be available here exclusively in the near future.

And to my fellow Jim Cummings fans out there — especially those reading this by way of Toon Zone, Jim’s Facebook fanpage (hosted by Hillary DePiano, webmaster of The Cult of Cummings), The Voiceover Bulletin Board, and The Acorn Cafe — if you’re curious to know how it was to get the chance to chat with Jim on the phone…

Well, words like “thrilled,” “excited,” and “beyond ecstatic” come to mind. I lost count how many different character voices did during the course of the interview (which you’ll hear in the audio later), so it was like getting a private, one-man show (which others will be able to enjoy later when the audio is posted).

I should mention that this interview was booked on very short notice, giving me very little prep time. But I’m very grateful and appreciative to Ed at Toon Zone for passing the opportunity along to me.

Initially, it was scheduled to be only a 10-minute interview. However, Dustin Sandoval of Click Communications graciously honored my request to extend my interview to 20 minutes, and then my Disney contact permitted it to run a full 30 minutes. Otherwise, I would have never had time to cover the core topics I hoped to address.

Here’s an excerpt from my original interview, omitted from the published version at Toon Zone because it was a dated question about the status of Jim’s official website: JimJCummings.com. Up until the time of the interview, his site had been down for quite some time, so I asked him when it might return. And unfortunately, my audio recording software glitched during part of his response and thus made it un-transcribable (if that’s a word). So to summarize, Jim explained his site had been down due to switching servers, although he didn’t quite know how to express it that way. He explained thusly:

I have to be honest with you. I’m still a bit of a “Luddite” – I think I topped out at VCRs. (laughs) I’m part Amish. I kind of put the site up [in 2007] in the original form and it’s kind of stayed there ever since. It’s been fun [to make] for people. What can I say…my mom likes it.

Jim also assured me that it would be back for good after it relaunched, which as you can now see is back — probably happened sometime in early August due to the release of The Tigger Movie and other interviews Jim did concerning his Daytime Emmy nomination.

Another excerpt you won’t hear in the final version of the published audio is my confession to Jim that I went — by myself — to see The Tigger Movie when it first premiered in February 2000, simply because Jim was involved in the movie.

In 2000, I was almost 30 years old and single with no kids. So for me to be sitting — by myself — in a theater with parents and kids just to hear Jim’s performance… well, that’s true fan devotion for you. (Although I’m sure parents in the audience who saw me by myself, watching a kids movie, thought I was some kind of creepy, weirdo geek.)

But Jim seemed flattered that I had done this, and said that it was nothing to be ashamed of.

Moving onto the reason the interview was scheduled in the first place — The Tigger Movie 10th Anniversary Edition DVD

In spite of the film’s flaws and young target demographic, it’s an entertaining film on the merits of the traditional animation, the musical numbers composed by the legendary Sherman Brothers, and the great character voice performances, including:

- Jim Cummings skillfully performing both Tigger and Pooh (who also sings as both characters in the film)
- Ken Sansom as Rabbit
- John Fiedler as Piglet
- Peter Cullen as Eeyore
- Andre Stojka as Owl
- Nikita Hopkins as Roo
- Kath Soucie as Kanga
- Tom Attenborough as Christopher Robin
- John Hurt as the Narrator

It’s also visually appealing as the animators were able to recreate the animation style from the original Winnie the Pooh cartoons. And for those of you with younger children, it’s a lighthearted, fun family film (the DVD press release Disney provided states that the previous DVD release of the movie “is the best-selling pre-school DVD of all time” according to a 2008 Nielsen report).

And two previously-unreleased to DVD vintage Pooh cartoons are included as bonus features: “King the of Beasties” and “Tigger’s Houseguest” from The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1988), which features (besides the aforementioned cast who reprise their roles in The Tigger Movie) Paul Winchell as Tigger, Hal Smith as Owl, Michael Gough as Gopher, and Tim Hoskins as Christopher Robin.

Other features include a bonus digital copy of the movie (for Macs, PCs, portable digital devices), “Your Heart Will Lead You Home” Kenny Loggins music video, and for the kiddies: “Round My Family Tree” sing-along, Movie DVD Storybook, and interactive trivia and matching games. The trivia game is actually worth noting because, as Toon Zone’s Ed Liu says in his review, “correctly answering all the questions unlocks a pleasant, brief video on the history of Winnie the Pooh as a liteary figure and a Disney character.”

Unfortunately, Jim was not asked to record any new materials for this DVD release, as he stated in my interview.

I mentioned Jim’s role in Comic Book The Movie earlier — I’m actually planning a feature on CBTM since 2009 marks the 5th anniversary since the movie was released. I covered CBTM extensively for Toon Zone back in 2003 (here’s the archive of the original feature article). And then after the movie released on DVD January 27, 2004, I still had some additional materials related to the movie which I wasn’t able to publish due to lack of internet access.

I need some time to finish compiling data and recovering files and photos from an old hard drive, so this feature will be published sometime in November. I also hope to have some follow-up interviews with CBTM’s cast and crew to coincide with the article.

In the meantime, here are a few photos from the CBTM panel Mark Hamill hosted at the 2003 San Diego Comic-Con — easily one of the most entertaining con panels I have ever attended:

L to R: Roger Rose, Debbie Derryberry, Donna D'Errico, Jess Harnell, Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill

L to R: Roger Rose, Debbie Derryberry, Donna D'Errico, Jess Harnell, Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill


L to R: Roger Rose, Debbie Derryberry, Jess Harnell, Billy West, Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill

L to R: Roger Rose, Debbie Derryberry, Jess Harnell, Billy West, Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill


Jim Cummings with Craig Crumpton after the 'Comic Book: The Movie' panel at SDCC 2003.

Jim Cummings with Craig Crumpton after the 'Comic Book: The Movie' panel at SDCC 2003.

And finally, Disney also provided a bio on Jim, added here for archival purposes:

============================

“Tell the kid he’s got it,” said the legendary Mel Blanc with a smile, after listening to a young man’s first demo tape of cartoon character voices. The year was 1984, “the kid,” was Jim Cummings. Since then, “the kid” has gone on to give life and voice to some of America’s most beloved animated characters, even a few of the late Mel Blanc’s, and in May, Cummings was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for his work as the lovable Tigger on Disney Channel’s “My Friends Tigger and Pooh,” in which he also voices everyone’s favorite bear, Winnie the Pooh.

Born and raised in Youngstown Ohio, Cummings spent Saturday mornings riveted to the TV screen as he mimicked the characters in his favorite cartoons, all the while dreaming that one day he would voice them himself. At age 19, he moved to New Orleans, where he performed as a drummer, a singer, a deck hand on riverboats, and even designed and created Mardi Gras floats, all the while absorbing the rich characters and accents that would some day find expression in animation.

Years later, Cummings relocated to Southern California and managed a video store as he pursued his childhood dream. He gave his first demo tape to a customer who was also a movie producer, and the rest, as they say, is history. In 1984, Cummings landed his first role as Lionel the Lion, in Disney Channel’s “Dumbo’s Circus.” During his illustrious career, he has worked extensively for the Walt Disney Studios voicing classic characters such as Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, King Louis, Kaa the Snake, Pete (formerly peg-legged Pete), and more. His many other Disney credits include Darkwing Duck, Bonkers, Fat Cat, and Monterey Jack on “Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers,” Don Karnage on “Talespin,” and too many others to mention here.

Cummings has done scores of voices for Warner Bros. as well, including Taz the Tasmanian Devil himself, Steven Spielberg’s “Animaniacs,” “Tiny Toon Adventures,” “Batman,” “Pinky and the Brain,” “Taz-Mania,” “Duck Dodgers,” and more. Other credits include “King of the Hill,” “Bump in the Night,” “Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” “The Replacements,” “The Addams Family,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Star Wars Clone Wars,” “The Simpsons,” “Barnyard,” and “Catdog.” He was also “AC,” the lead singer of the famed claymation “California Raisins” cartoon series.

Not limited to the small screen, Cummings has acted in several blockbuster feature films for Dreamworks including “Shrek,” “Antz,” “Kung Fu Panda’s Furious 5,” “Hook,” “The Bee Movie,” “Balto,” and more. His credits read like a top-list of animated and live-action films. Credits include “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Tarzan,” “Pocahontas,” “The Lion King,” “Babe: Pig in the City,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Brother Bear 2,” to name a few.

Cummings’ uncanny ability to sing in character and voice match for stars who are, in his words, “great actors, just not great singers,” has led to many platinum and gold records for soundtracks like “Anastasia,” “The Lion King,” “Fox and the Hound 2,” “Pocahontas,” “Hercules,” and more.

His most recent musical turn will be as Ray, the Cajun firefly, in Disney Studio’s feature, “The Princess and the Frog,” due in theaters Christmas 2009 with Oscar-winner Randy Newman as composer. Cummings’ work in voice over includes hundred of television and radio commercials, movie trailers, promos, and videogames. “Pretty much anything involving microphones, music, noise in general, and padded walls,” jokes the affable actor, and “remember, only you can prevent forest fires,” so says Smokey the Bear, aka, Jim Cummings. No matter how busy Cummings’ schedule may be, it all stops when Famous Fone Friends or the Make-A-Wish Foundation call on behalf of a very ill child and distraught family in need of a phone call from their favorite cartoon character. “Just bringing a respite, however brief, and perhaps a smile and giggle or two means so much to the child and their families. I consider it a true blessing to be able to do that.”

Cummings is a proud father of four and resides somewhere in Southern California with his wife Stephanie, their beautiful daughters Grace, Lulu Rose, and their critters.

================

I’d like to offer a special thanks to Jim for his time and participation in the interview (it was indeed an honor and a privilege), as well as Dustin Sandoval (Click Communications) and Alexis with Disney PR for helping to set the interview up.

Related post: 8.27.2009 — ‘Rescue Rangers’ Voice Cast Featured in Vintage Video Clip


SAG Closing on Video Game VO Deal

08.29.2009

Variety reports:

In a sign it may be moving toward a videogames deal, the Screen Actors Guild has scheduled….Sept. 8 [member] caucuses in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

If the vidgame deal is concluded, it will be the sixth SAG contract that’s been wrapped up since April — including commercials, feature-primetime, TV animation, basic cable animation and basic cable live-action, the last of which was ratified Wednesday with 93.7% support.

The SAG contract covers performers for such publishing giants as Electronic Arts and about 70 other gaming companies. The SAG and AFTRA deals in 2005 gave members a 36% increase in the base rate of $556.20 per session for vidgame voiceover work.

Related post: 8.19.2009 — SAG VAs Deal With AMPTP


Big Bald Broadcast Interviews Brett Weaver

08.29.2009

Anime and video game voice actor Kyle Hebert (Bleach, Naruto, Dragonball Z) will be interviewing fellow VA Brett Weaver (One Piece, Witchblade) on the Saturday, August 29th edition of Kyle’s Big Bald Broadcast at 9 PM (EST).

In related news, Kyle announced August 28th via his website that he will be offering private voice acting consultation via Skype. Sign-ups begin Monday, August 31st at a rate of $75 for a 60-minute session.

As for the “bang” you’ll get for your buck, Kyle says: “You’ll get one-on-one professional critiques of your commercial and/or character demo and do script readings to help polish your acting skills. You’ll have my undivided attention for one hour to get individualized advice. The goal is to help you improve and get you closer to readiness to record an actual demo.”

Please understand that while I have known Kyle for the greater part of the past decade, what I’m about to say is a completely unsolicited testimonial. This is a great value Kyle is offering for this service. I can say from personal experience that getting this level of individual coaching and consultation from a professional does not come cheap. Kyle’s a seasoned pro and he’s going to be able to tell you what does and doesn’t work on a demo. And whatever advice and coaching he offers will be beneficial to both aspiring VAs and beginners. And I dare say even pros will find his insight helpful and informative.

And on the cost, Kyle also adds, “The average cost of private sessions for voice over cost twice as much easily, or more. Granted, there are more experienced teachers, all with different focuses and goals. I’m merely offering consultation. You’re getting someone with well over a decade’s worth of experience in radio, anime, video games, audio books, and commercials combined.”

You’ll find the full details of Kyle’s new voice acting consultation service on his website: KyleHebert.com.

And one other item related to Kyle that I’ve been meaning to mention here for a while — I’d like to offer my congratulations to him on winning the award for “Best English Voice Actor, Male” from the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation. Kyle was nominated for his performance as Kamina in Gurren Lagann and was up against some stiff competition from Samuel L. Jackson ­(Afro Samurai Resurrection) and Dave Wittenburg (Naruto). In early July, Kyle was declared the winner by way of public voting on SPJA.org.

Here’s a recent KYLE TV video after he received his award in the mail, thanking fans for voting:

Kyle is currently in Ohio this weekend as a guest at Matsuricon, and has several more con appearances scheduled through November 2009.

Here’s a few other related links, for your perusal:

- The iPhoneography Showcase of Kyle Hebert
- Anime Video Blog: Kyle Hebert at Anime Next 2009
- Otaku Crush: Interview with Kyle Hebert — Anime’s Favorite Voice Actor

Related post: 7.08.2009 — Official Site Spotlight: Kyle Hebert.


‘Epic’ Voice Actors Photo Feature on Life.com

08.28.2009

Life.com has a photo feature on the individuals they have determined to be “Epic” voice actors.

The 17 names who made their list:

- Mel Blanc: most of the iconic Looney Tunes characters.
- Dan Castellaneta: The Simpsons, Earthworm Jim.
- Alan Reed: voice of Fred Flintstone.
- Seth MacFarlane: creator/producer/writer/voice actor on Family Guy, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show.
- Frank Oz: voice of Jedi Master Yoda, Sesame Street characters Grover and Bert.
- Matt Stone and Trey Parker: creators of South Park.
- Tom Kenny: voice of SpongeBob SquarePants
- Billy West: Futurama, Ren & Stimpy
- Hank Azaria: The Simpsons
- Nancy Cartright: The Simpsons
- Russi Taylor and the late Wayne Allwine: respective voices of Minnie and Mickey Mouse.
- Tony Anselmo: voice of Donald Duck
- Harry Shearer: The Simpsons
- Jorge Arvizu: considered to be the Hispanic equivalent of Mel Blanc.
- Mark Hamill: voice of The Joker.

I had reservations about linking to this because the nitpicker in me believes this list has been mislabeled as “epic” when “iconic” would be more fitting. Also, some major talents have been omitted — no Frank Welker, Daws Butler, June Foray, Jim Cummings, or plenty of others I could mention — all very worthy of the title of “epic” when it comes to voice acting talent.

And there there are some like Parker and Stone who just don’t feel at all like they belong on such a list. They may have created iconic characters and a cult hit show, but they are so not “epic” in terms of voice talent. One reason I stopped watching the show is that they do their own voices as celebrity impressions for every stinking celebrity they spoof… and they all sound the same. It may be one of the show’s running gags, but it just grates on my ears. I’ll grant that some of their character voices like Cartman, Mr. Garrison, Butters, and Kenny are amusing, but I just don’t believe they qualify as “epic.”

Furthermore, in the photo profiles there’s a typo on Tweety’s name (“Tweet Bird”) and Mark Hamill’s last name is misspelled as “Hammill.” (That qualifies as “epic” FAIL in my book.)

And I would like to have seen more females mentioned other than just Nancy Cartright. It blows my mind that Life would neglect to include “The First Lady of Cartoon Voice Acting,” June Foray. And there are other females who would have been welcome additions to such a list: Mae Questel (Olive Oyl, Betty Boop), Janet Waldo (The Jetsons, Penelope Pitstop), Tress MacNeille (Animaniacs, Futurama), and Mary Kay Bergman (South Park, Captain Planet, Scooby Doo movie series). (And that’s just to name a few).

Now, with that off my chest, I will say that it’s nice to see the majority of these individuals featured by a publication as renowned as Life Magazine. (And photos of voice actors are always welcome.) Frankly, Mark Hamill still gets unfair media criticisms for being a so-called “has-been since Star Wars” so any time he’s recognized in the media for his incredible voice acting is okay by me (although you’d think they would’ve tried spelling his name correctly). And as far as I’m concerned, Tony Anselmo, Russi Taylor, and the late Wayne Allwine will never receive enough recognition for their work.

Finally, I was rather surprised and pleased to see Jorge Arvizu included, someone I’d been planning to feature here in the future. He really is a great character voice actor who needs to be introduced to a wider U.S. audience. Here’s a clip of him performing some of his characters in a promo for Súper Agente 86 (the Spanish version of Get Smart):

[Link credit: Voice Chasers]


Peter Rofe Podcast on Voicebank

08.28.2009

Producer/Director/Voice Coach Peter Rofe (who also co-authored Voice For Hire with Randy Thomas) offers Part 1 of an informative podcast on VideoVoicebank.net with “insights, tips and advice on how voice actors can be competitive, what it takes to get that National voice over commercial and much more.”

Once you’ve listened to that one, here’s Part 2.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 161 other followers