Reporter Claims Danish Dub of ‘SpongeBob’ is Superior to Original

05.08.2010

An unidentified reporter for The Copenhagen Post makes the audacious claim that the voices for the Danish dub of SpongeBob SquarePants are “better than the originals.”

With nary an audio or video clip to support this claim, the reporter says that even with A/V examples his (or her) “point would have been lost without them being able to understand the language.”

SpongeBob — or more appropriately SvampeBob Firkant, which translates literally in Danish as “SpongeBob Square” — is Nickelodeon Denmark’s most popular program, and according to the article the Danish dub cast includes Jens Jacob Tychsen as SpongeBob, Søren Ulrichs as Patrick Star and Peter Zhelder as Squidward. [FYI: Ulrichs is a “voiceover veteran” in Denmark, and has dubbed many lead roles for a number of US cartoons.]

This reporter states that Zhelder’s performance as Squidward is an “improvement over the original” (referring to Roger Bumpass), and that Tychsen as SpongeBob is “actually better than the much-hailed Tom Kenny, who voices the original American character.” And at the close of the article, the reporter goes as far as to claim that the Danish version is “superior” to the original.

Tychsen is also interviewed in the article, and had this to say about voicing the iconic character:

‘I honestly had the initial impression that the show was some cheaply produced piece of crap that should be done as quickly as possible and would be forgotten just as fast,’ he said. ‘But then we found out how popular it was in the US and thought that maybe we had something good going. We also gradually learned the humour of it, although we were a bit worried that too few people would see it being aired only on Nickelodeon. But once [public broadcaster] DR bought the rights it really took off.’

Tychsen said he soon fell in love with the ‘bizarre’ character he was voicing, and eventually made the voice more personal after the first episode, ‘Help Wanted’, where he says he was just doing a straight copy of Kenny’s voice traits.

‘I realised how important it was that SpongeBob wasn’t just this bloody irritating little thing, but that there also had to be something loveable or attractive about him,’ he said. ‘So instead of just copying the original I incorporated a bit of mischief into his voice and there it was – my own SvampeBob!’

Tychsen said the most difficult SvampeBob moments are when the little yellow sponge sings. He also admits that, away from the microphone, he has a hard time doing the voice when asked.

I could understand that national pride might be a factor to Denmark residents in claiming that the dubbed version is “superior” to the US version, but even without hearing any proof I already have a problem with Tychsen’s take on the character because he says he “incorporated a bit of mischief into his voice” which seems contradictory to SpongeBob’s character.

Who knows why this reporter didn’t bother to provide even a single audio or video clip for comparison, but it was easy enough to find online thanks to YouTube and the official Nickelodeon Denmark website.

Review the clips that follow and see if you think the Danish dub is genuinely “superior” to the original. (Up front, I’ll just go ahead and warn you that SpongeBob’s laugh is off. Way off.)

And there are over a dozen high-quality streaming complete SvampeBob cartoons on Nickelodeon.DK. Here are direct links to some of the more memorable ones:

“Best Day Ever”
“Stanley S. SquarePants”
“Krabby Road”
“House Fancy”

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Monthly Blog Mailbag: April 2010

04.30.2010

Following up on March’s reader comments, where I answer questions and respond to feedback I get via e-mail and publish unintentionally amusing spam comments.

– Comment from “web tasarım” on a press release for the GEICO/FreedomWorks/D.C.Douglas brouhaha:

Sharing health was good in your hand. More expect friends.

I have no idea what that means, but it sounds complimentary so thanks. I hope health is good in your hand too.

– Comment from “sylvia” in response to an obituary notice (with strikethroughs to avoid keyword searches):

I have really been becoming all uncomfortable & zonked out there lately as soon as blazing some intense marihauna nowadays…
Any of you people experiencing this? It’s possible I just might need to reduce the amount I will be smoking right…?

While I don’t think this has any relation to my blog or it’s content… yes, I think that might just possibly be a very good thing for you to do.

– Comment from “Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy with Narration – Dr. Smith | Obesity Awareness” on a post about Orson Welles:

…actually they didn’t leave a comment. It was a blog pingack. And while I greatly respect Welles as an actor and don’t mean to make light of his death, I must admit I found the connection between “obesity awareness” and Orson Welles to be amusing…even if it was a random spam link to my blog.

Now for a real reader question:

– From Ron (Fresno, CA):

I enjoy [the] voice actor blog. I have recently began to appreciate voice actors from my youth a lot more, since I’ve been able to share the cartoons from the ’80’s and ’90’s with my kids.

I have wanted to start a project to obtain some of the former [Transformers] G1 voice actors autographs on the old [Hasbro] Action Cards from 1985. Unfortunately I have almost no idea how to go about this. I’m familiar with through the mail autograph seeking with sport figures but have no clue how to find some of the voice actors.

I was wondering if you might be able to answer a few questions for me? Are voice actors typically open to requests? Or is it too unusual an idea? Also, where would an individual send the requests, to their management agencies? Like I said it’s a project I’d love to do for myself and my kids. There is still magic in listening to those old cartoons and I’d like to capture a bit of it through autographs.

Sorry if I’m overstepping or asking too much, I do enjoy your website and appreciate the work you do to keep it up.

Thanks,
Ron Anderson

In my first reply to Ron, I asked him to provide a full list of all the voice actors he hoped to contact…and wow, was it a doozie! This is my reply to both messages:

Hi Ron,

Thanks so much for the compliments, and I don’t mind at all helping to get leads on autographs…even for requests as extensive as yours. Before I started going to conventions regularly, I used to do the same thing. For me, it’s more fulfilling and rewarding to get the autographs in person, and around 2000 I started a hobby of getting all my animated DVDs signed. Since I don’t want to risk losing my DVD cover art by sending it through the mail, I haven’t done any requests via U.S. Mail in quite some time.

I’m going to respond to your list in a series of separate posts over the next couple months because it’s a pretty extensive project to research and you have the casts for four different shows listed.

But first, to respond to your individual questions:

Are voice actors typically open to requests?

Yes. From my experience, Voice actors tend to be the most open to requests because they generally don’t have any kind of “celebrity” attitude and they appreciate the recognition for their work. Although I’ve met a handful who prefer their anonymity, I still have yet to be turned down for an autograph request, and at this point I’ve gotten so many signatures I’ve lost count.

[Is] it too unusual an idea?

Not at all! Up until I began using the internet in the mid-90s, I felt very alone in my hobby and appreciation for voice actors. Where I grew up in Memphis, TN there was only a local comic convention that offered nothing in the way of animation, and there weren’t even any local fan clubs that I knew of.

But thanks to the internet, not only did I discover that there were a lot of voice actor fans out there too, but a lot of them also collected autographs (some even going to great lengths to track down addresses).

Where would an individual send the requests, to their management agencies?

That’s actually one of the best places to start, and most autograph successes through the mail are obtained that way.

That said, before I tackle your major question I’m going to give some general information for anyone else interested in starting or expanding their autograph collection. These are some simple things you can do on your own time to find contacts for autograph requests:

1. Google.com is your friend.

Google has been my best resource for making contacts with voice actors (and bing.com more recently). But to search specifically for mailing addresses, put the actor’s name in “quotation marks” followed by “autograph.” Like this:

“Frank Welker” autograph

And within the first 10 search results you should find successes posted online by other fans.

And I’ve sometimes found better results searching with that same keyword method on Google Images. The search results there are often personal homepages, blogs and photo sharing accounts where if the fan hasn’t posted an address along with their image, you can usually find a contact for that person through the link to make an inquiry.

You can also use the same keyword search method to find the voice actor’s official site or Facebook.com page, if there’s one available. So your keyword search would be:

“Frank Welker” official site
“Frank Welker” facebook

While there are voice actors who keep their Facebook pages restricted, their page should have a link where you can send them a message (without requesting to be “Friends”). Also, some have official fan pages or fan groups on Facebook, and the fans there will be more than happy to help you with a contact for autograph requests.

And since I’ve used Frank as an example, you’ll be pleased to know that my good friend and fellow voice actor fan Doreen Mulman maintains Frank’s official site — FrankWelker.net — and she already has an address there for autograph requests through his agency.

2. Voicebank.net is also your friend.

Voicebank.net has demos for all the top voice actors in the industry as well as the agencies they’re listed with and the agencies’ mailing addresses.

Go to the “Demos and Agents” page on voicebank.net, type the name of the actor in the search and you’ll find what agency/agencies they’re listed with. When the actor’s demo pops up, click on the “Agency Name” link and the mailing address is the first thing listed.

3. VoiceChasers.com and FanMail.biz are your best friends.

The two best *direct* resources for fan mail addresses are thanks to Kristy at Voice Chasers and the fans on FanMail.biz.

Kristy has made great efforts to include addresses for fanmail and autograph requests for many of the voice actors listed in her database.

And FanMail.biz not only provides mailing addresses, but the fan forums there are always helpful to provide leads on actors that may not have a page yet. Furthermore, the fans post confirmations of autograph successes so you know you have a sure chance of receiving your request. And they post recent successes on the site’s frontpage, like the two current ones (as of this writing) for Dan Castellaneta and Seth MacFarlane.

The forum on FanMail.biz also offers a great guide by one of the site’s administrators on how to write to request autographs.

In my follow-up reply, I’ll address all the names on your list for the original Transformers series. In the meantime, you (and anyone else interested) can try using the above suggestions.

Thanks again, Ron, for allowing me to share your letter with my readers. I’m certain there are other fans out there who are curious to know the same thing.

Best of luck to you in your VA autograph quest,

Craig “Voiceroy” Crumpton
Publisher: Voice Actors in the News
* Expanded news coverage available through Facebook and Twitter.


Monthly Blog Mailbag: March 2010

03.31.2010

Following up on February’s reader comments:

– Comment from “Hong” on a post about Spike Spencer:

Hello, just needed you to know I have added your site to my Google bookmarks because of your extraordinary blog layout. But seriously, I think your site has one of the freshest theme I’ve came across. It really helps make reading your blog a lot easier.

Thanks, but you must have my blog confused with someone else’s. I picked the simplest layout and theme available. If it were any more plain, it would be mistaken for white bread.

– Comment from “Christopher” on an obituary notice:

As a Freshman, I am always searching online for articles that can help me get further ahead. Thanks a million!

If you think reading an obit can help you get further ahead, you’re going to be a Freshman for a long, long time.

– Comment from “Amia” on a post about Seth MacFarlane’s doppelganger:

I’d have to say even Jennifer Aniston is hotter than her!

If you say so. And I’m sure Seth would find your comment very flattering too.


Monthly Blog Mailbag: February 2010

02.28.2010

Welcome to another new blog feature where I answer questions and respond to feedback I get via e-mail and publish unintentionally amusing spam comments.

Now, spam comments are the bane of every blogger. Thankfully, WordPress’ Akismet software filters such crap which can be easily mass-deleted.

However, I guess maybe it’s my compulsive nature that I still read spam comments, even though I know they’re usually utterly random (submitted via spamming spider-bot software) and unrelated to the blog topic or the blog itself. But sometimes, that’s what makes them funny.

And so it becomes posting fodder for your amusement as well:

– Comment on ‘SpongeBob’ Voice Cast Featured in Magazine (which included a video of Tom Kenny performing):

I liked reading this post. Thank you for this information. But could you please consider adding more videos to your posts? Some people would rather watch videos than read text.

My response: If you would rather watch videos than read my blog, there’s this site — maybe you’ve heard of it — called YouTube. It’s full of everything you could possibly want to watch in a video, and a lot of crap that either you’d rather not watch or that you end up wasting your time watching. Either way, you’re wasting your time, and that’s what teh internets is all about!

– Comment on a post about Celebrity doppelgangers:

I think I first came across your website via a link on Twitter. I fancy the way you write and I am going to subscribe to read more whenever I can. Oh yeah, are you on Twitter yet?

Yes (@voiceroy). I’m the one who posted the link on Twitter.

– Comment on a post about Nancy Cartwright appearing at an event:

You are posting too quickly. Slow down.

You are posting spam. Stop it.

– Another comment on a post about Nancy Cartwright:

This was a nice post! I am looking for some related pictures. Anybody got some good ones?

Yeah, you might try a search on Google Images. Or better yet, try checking NancyCartwright.com that was linked in the post, for crying out loud.

– Comment on an obituary notice:

I Liked reading this post. Quite some usefull fitness info in it for me 🙂 . And after reading this i think you will really like the book [spam book title omitted]. To me this is like the health and fitness bible. Last year i lost almost 25 pounds and gained an inch on my arms in 12 weeks. What you describe here does resemble the book a bit, but there is so much more! I added the link in my name so you dont have to search for it 😉 . Again, nice post and i hope you keep it up!

Maybe you didn’t notice, but your spam post about “heath and fitness” is possibly the most off-topic, insensitive and inappropriate comment you could possibly make in reply to an obituary notice. It would be poetic justice if while out jogging for your health and fitness you got hit by a truck that was transporting copies of your book.

– Comment from “Shawna” on my 2010 Annie Awards coverage:

I was wondering if you have the link to the article?

Shawna, honey, there are DOZENS of links to articles in that post.

– Comment on a press release from Spike Spencer:

Your website looks really good. Being a blog writer myself, I really appreciate the time you took in writing this article.

Thanks, you’re too kind…especially since you missed the obvious fact that I didn’t write the press release.

– Another comment on a post about Spike Spencer:

Irgend ne Ahnung wie sehr das verallgemeinerbar ist?

Danke. Auf Wiedersehen.

– Comment on a post about Reggae archivist and voice talent Roger Steffens:

Have you ever noticed that any place there is hardship, you’ll find two posters. Che and Bob Marley

No, I hadn’t noticed that. Thanks for pointing it out, Mr. “pure acai berry supplements,” if that is your real name.

– Comment on a post about Shrek Forever After:

I dont have a checking account how can I place the order?

Send cash. Lots and lots of it.


Jonathan Winters Rumored to Voice Papa Smurf

02.11.2010

UGO.com is reporting that Jonathan Winters will voice Papa Smurf in The Smurfs computer-animated feature expected to release in theaters on July 29, 2011.

IMDb.com and Wikipedia.org both state that John Lithgow and Julia Sweeney are rumored to be involved with the film as well, and IMDb adds that Wallace Shawn is rumored to voice the villain Gargamel, but bear in mind that no cast members have been officially announced or confirmed to date…and neither has Winters either, for that matter. UGO credits a “well placed source,” so take that for what it’s worth.

And speaking of Winters…

Over the course of 2009 I featured individuals here who were very influential in sparking my lifelong interest in character voice acting, like comedy legends Bill Cosby, Rich Little and Stan Freberg.

Jonathan Winters is another early influence, whose amazing skill for improv, quick wit and flair for comedic characters (and character voices) has always fascinated and entertained me. And he’s had a fair amount of animation credits to date, with such memorable guest roles on Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972), and Pogo for President (1980).

But Winters is a man of many talents and a wearer of many hats (quite literally, from his repertoire of hat-wearing characters): comedian, actor, voice talent, artist and author. He’s also recently released an audio production: Jonathan Winters: A Very Special Time, a collection of “soliloquies and psalms” narrated by Winters.

Visit his official website — JonathanWinters.com — to learn more about this marvelous talent and an entertainment legend.

And if you have about 2 hours to watch the Archive of American Television‘s a 5-part comprehensive interview with Winters, it’s well worth viewing:


The What I’m Pondering Weakly II

02.09.2010

What the heck is “The What I’m Pondering Weakly”, you ask? Well, you must have missed the premiere issue then.

In short, it’s random thoughts on random Tuesdays. So let’s get to it.

– I find some interesting things through WordPress’ traffic stats as it provides the source of pingbacks/referrals/sites that link to my blog. I was pleased to discover that a middle school student linked to the blog as part of a “favorite blogs” class journal project:

I chose this blog because I usually like watching Spongebob a lot. This site not only informed about spongebob squarepants, it also informed about different movie characters. It was interesting to see the interview of the voice cast because spongebob’s voice is a very unique tone compared to other characters. I wondered how this voice cast was able to do it, and by the blog, I was able to be informed about the voice cast.

That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I never imagined a blog I’ve been doing for a decade solely for entertainment would assist in educating the SpongeBob-loving youth of America. I’m honored.

– A Toronto Sun interview with “Rush” drummer and lyricist Neil Peart mentions that Peart has “done cartoon voiceovers.” Apparently, the plural use of “voiceovers” there implies that a one-time voice cameo in an animated movie (Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon) qualifies as a side-career to the dude who wrote this article.

Collider.com article speculating on the planned theatrical sequel for The Dark Knight ends with the comment: “…either recast Batman or get Bale to stop sucking at his Batman-voice. I don’t care if he threatens to tear the lights down.”

Quoted for truth. Christian Bale’s voice as Batman sounds like he drank a glass of saltwater between takes.

Previous post: 2.02.2010 — TWIPW I


Want to Audition for Family Guy or The Simpsons?

02.08.2010

This article was originally published 2.08.2010. Please scroll down to read the most recent updates and additions.

On Feb. 1st, Backstage.com published a list of TV Pilot Production Listings. Now, I’ll grant that unless you’re a working actor, that might not be of any interest to you. And for animation fans, the list is worth noting for details on upcoming animated productions.

But both beginning and professional voice actors should find this HUGELY interesting as it includes contact info for the casting directors of such popular animated shows as Family Guy, American Dad and The Simpsons.

But before I share that info, please note Backstage’s preface to their article:

The following listings are not casting notices but instead reflect the best general information available about current casting assignments. Do your homework and use them wisely. Do not phone or visit casting directors’ offices. Unless otherwise instructed, all contact with casting directors should be through the mail. Blind mass mailings are not recommended.

And I must also emphasize that this is not a notice for an “open call” or even an audition, frankly. However, you could *submit* for an audition by sending a demo through the mailing addresses Backstage.com provides. Chances are very small that such a demo would even be heard, but there’s no harm in submitting anyway.

American Dad – Linda Lamontagne, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 325, L.A., CA 90035.

Family Guy – Linda Lamontagne, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 325, L.A., CA 90036.

King of the Hill – Mossberg/Anthony Casting, 4024 Radford Ave., Trailer 800, Studio City, CA 91604

The Simpsons – Bonita Pietila, c/o 20th Century Fox Studios, 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Trailer 730, L.A., CA 90035

You’re likely as surprised as I am to see King of the Hill mentioned, especially since FOX announced August 2009 that the one-hour season finale would effectively end the series. I don’t think fans should take this as any kind of sign — or even a glimmer of hope — that further production for the series is planned. There have been no official announcements to date otherwise.

As an addendum to Backstage’s article, I have a related list for which I have opted to not disclose the source out of professional courtesy since it was from an agency.

Update: 2.11.2010 — I have tracked down what I believe to be the original source of the casting information which I received via an agency in mid-January.

The source is NowCasting.com — a reputable casting site widely used throughout the TV/film industry. Some TV/film productions I’ve worked on personally as background, stand-in and in a featured role have posted casting notices through this site. (Just to name one: Tyler Perry Studios.)

Note that the names of casting directors ARE included, but no direct contact information is given. If you want that info, you’ll have to track it down on your own or “upgrade” to a paid membership with NowCasting as it mentions on the linked pdf file.

The following list (which according to the document was originally published Jan. 7th, 2010) is worth noting not only for the “currently casting” info but also for the current and upcoming animated series and TV specials (aka “MOW” or “movie-of-the-week”) included in the list which are related to productions which air (or will air) on FOX, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. (I did not include any Nick or Disney shows because all the Nick and Disney shows on NowCasting.com’s list are live-action.)

American Dad (FOX): currently casting
Eagleheart – 1/2 hour pilot (CN): currently casting
Family Guy – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
Firebreather – MOW (CN): wrapped
Kamen Rider – 1/2 hour (CN): on hiatus
Robot Chicken – 1/2 hour (CN): on hiatus
The Tiger’s Apprentice – MOW (CN): wrapped
Titan Maximum – 1/2 hour (CN): currently casting
Delocated – 1/2 hour (CN): currently casting
Futurama – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
The Simpsons – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
The Cleveland Show – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
Untitled Green/Root/Senerich Project (FOX) – 1/2 hour pilot: currently casting

Update: 2.09.2010 — Following the feedback on sites which have also carried this news, it seems I must point out they are neither “recasting” nor “replacing” any of the cast members for the recurring series listed. Backstage.com merely provided the contact address for the casting directors. And NowCasting.com’s list which mentions that shows like Family Guy and American Dad are “currently casting” means that they are possibly casting for incidental characters, guest stars, etc. — *not* the main or supporting cast.

Update: 2.11.2010 — According to one of Futurama’s writers, the show “isn’t casting voice actors.”

Update: 4.08.2010 — NowCasting.com published an updated list on 3.09.2010. And my apologies that I am just now updating this article following this new information, but I was in Japan for two weeks when this notice was released and am just now catching up on backlogged messages.

Here’s the updated list:

American Dad (FOX): currently casting
Family Guy – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
Firebreather – MOW (CN): wrapped
Kamen Rider – 1/2 hour (CN): wrapped
Robot Chicken – 1/2 hour (CN): currently casting
The Tiger’s Apprentice – MOW (CN): wrapped
Horrorbots – 1/2 hour (CN): wrapped
Children’s Hospital – 1/2 hour (CN): currently casting
Scooby Doo – MOW (CN): currently casting [This has been confirmed as a live-action TV movie following a March 12th press release.]
Titan Maximum – 1/2 hour (CN): currently casting
Delocated – 1/2 hour (CN): wrapped
Futurama – 1/2 hour (FOX): still listed as “currently casting” [see earlier note from February above]
The Simpsons – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
The Cleveland Show – 1/2 hour (FOX): currently casting
Untitled Green/Root/Senerich Project (FOX) – 1/2 hour pilot: wrapped [This project has now been confirmed — and this is no April Fools — as a Star Wars animated sitcom.]

Note that no animated Disney or Nickelodeon projects are included in NowCasting’s list. If you’d like to see the new and continuing animated productions for each of these networks, toonzone has coverage of Nickelodeon’s Upfront 2010 and Disney Channel/Disney XD’s 2010-2011 Programming Announcements. Cartoon Network’s Upfront 2010 is scheduled for April 21st.

Backstage.com also has a comprehensive list of Animation Production Companies (last updated 6.09.2009), some of which are seeking voiceover demos (as noted). But make sure you not only follow Backstage’s advice for submissions, but also note the note individual studios’ guidelines for submitting demos. And bear in mind that in most cases “demo” refers to a reel of animation samples, not voiceovers.