Voice Cast Cavalcade: Shrek Forever After

04.29.2010

This article was originally published Feb. 1st 2010 and has since been expanded. Please scroll down for the most recent updates and additions.

Shrek 4 image courtesy of Shrek.com

Shrek Forever After (aka Shrek The Final Chapter in 3D) is reportedly the final film for the Shrek movie franchise scheduled for release May 21st, 2010.

Here’s the plot summary via IMDb.com:

A bored and domesticated Shrek pacts with deal-maker Rumpelstiltskin to get back to feeling like a real ogre again, but when he’s duped and sent to a twisted version of Far Far Away — where Rumpelstiltskin is king, ogres are hunted, and he and Fiona have never met — he sets out to restore his world and reclaim his true love.

Shrek Forever After features returning cast members Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. Other confirmed cast members: comedian Kathy Griffin, Meredith Vieira (The Today Show), Mary Kay Place (Big Love), Lake Bell (Boston Legal), and Kristin Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) as ogre-hunting witches; Jane Lynch (Glee) as Gretched; Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as the ogre leader of an underground resistance group; Megan Fox (Transformers film series) as a princess; Ryan Seacrest (American Idol); and Walt Dohrn as Rumpelstiltskin [Dorhn voiced several incidental characters in Shrek the Third].

Other cast members for the film include (as listed on Wikipedia and IMDb):

* Julie Andrews as Queen Lillian
* John Cleese as King
* Justin Timberlake as King Artie
* Amy Poehler as Snow White
* Maya Rudolph as Rapunzel
* Amy Sedaris as Cinderella
* Cheri Oteri as Sleeping Beauty
* Conrad Vernon as Gingy, Mongo
* Aron Warner as Big Bad Wolf
* Christopher Knights as Three Blind Mice
* Cody Cameron as Pinocchio, The Three Little Pigs
* Chris Miller as Magic Mirror
* Ian McShane as Captain Hook
* Craig Robinson as Cookie
* Regis Philbin as Mabel (Ugly Stepsister)
* Larry King as Doris (Ugly Stepsister)
* John Krasinski as Lancelot

: The Sydney Morning Herald published an interview May 28th with Mike Myers reflecting on his role in the Shrek film series.

: The May 28th print edition of Entertainment Weekly Magazine has a feature article on Shrek Forever After interviewing Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas.

: On May 21st, ABC News interviewed Walt Dohrn, who shares the inspirations for his performance as Rumpelstiltskin:

Dohrn…has worked at DreamWorks Animation for eight years and spent most of that time on the studio’s “Shrek” franchise, says he had mixed emotions about his new job:

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to really step outside my skill set and I have to step outside my dark little room and really put myself out there.'”

Dohrn said he borrowed from a wide range of sources, taking the fast-talking drive of Sean Penn in 1985 film “The Falcon and the Snowman” and infusing the conniving sweetness of a child murderess in 1956 movie “The Bad Seed.”

: The Washington Post published an interview May 21st with Walt Dohrn discussing his role as Rupelstiltskin and his early influences that led him to a career in animation.

: AccessHollywood.com has video interviews from the Shrek Forever After premiere at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival with Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, and a separate interview with Antonio Banderas.

: Via toonzone.net: Walt Dohrn discusses his role as Rumplestiltskin in the LA Times:

Truth be told, Dohrn isn’t even an actor at all. He’s head of story at DreamWorks Animation. “I started writing the scenes with the writers and directors, and we would put the scenes on the wall, and we would just be playing with that voice back and forth,” Dohrn says. “It just started to evolve. Rumple hadn’t been cast and people started falling more and more in love with the voice [I was doing] and the design.”

One of his vocal inspirations was the child murderess in the 1956 film “The Bad Seed” because “there was this fake innocence about her but any minute she could turn. We also liked Bette Davis in ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane’ — that character had the youthfulness with this really scary edge. And then there was the Sean Penn character in ‘The Falcon and the Snowman’ — we got the really fast talking for Rumple from him. It was quite the stew.”

: Movieweb.com attended DreamWorks’ 2010 film presentation on Jan. 15th, and for those who enjoy spoilers Movieweb describes the action from the film.

: Mirror.co.uk published an interview January 31st with Glee cast member Jane Lynch who briefly mentions her role in Shrek Forever After:

I’m playing an ogre called [Gretched] – it’s going to be a bit like It’s A Wonderful Life. I did voiceovers for several years – for radio and television in the mid-90s – and I really enjoy that work. There’s nothing better than voicing a character. You don’t have to worry about what you’re wearing, you’ve got the script in front of you, and it doesn’t involve your body, it’s all about your voice, and it’s really fast work.

And following are some related trailers and interviews via YouTube:

View the official trailer on Shrek.com.

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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.


Cast Details for New Scooby Doo D2V and TV Series

04.02.2010

The March 12th press release (courtesy of Scoobyfan.net) for the upcoming live-action/CGI sequel to Scooby Doo: The Mystery Begins reveals an upcoming animated direct-to-video title: Scooby-Doo: Camp Scare, which releases on DVD in September 2010.

In addition to the principal voice cast fans have come to expect from the animated series and features (Frank Welker as Fred and Scooby Doo, Grey Delisle as Daphne, and Mindy Cohn as Velma), I have a source confirming some of the supporting cast for this new D2V title: Tara Strong, Phil LaMarr and Lauren Tom. Scott Menville was also mentioned, which leads me to believe that Menville will be reprising his role as Shaggy rather than Matthew Lillard who voiced Shaggy for the February 2010 DVD release, Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo. [Menville also voiced Shaggy for the previous TV series, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo: Get a Clue!]

My source added that they were putting the “finishing touches” on recording.

The press release also mentions that the new animated TV series, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated will air in 2011. However, since I first published this article here I now have two sources confirming that the series will air summer 2010, possibly in July, and that the 2011 date mentioned in the press release is believed to be for international markets.

A preview of the new series is scheduled to air Monday, April 5th at 7:00 PM (EST) on Cartoon Network, and it’s been given a full 30-minute time-slot on the CartoonNetwork.com Schedule.

The voice cast for Mystery Inc. includes Welker, DeLisle, Cohn and Lillard (whom I’ve confirmed through a fellow cast member that Lillard will voice Shaggy for the new series).

Additionally, David Kaye (voice of Megatron in five Transformers series to date) shared news that he had a recording session April 1st for an episode of Mystery Inc. with the aforementioned Welker and DeLisle, as well as fellow guest stars Cree Summer and Maurice LaMarche. Kaye added that he got to deliver one of the most famous lines of the Scoobyverse.

And as an exclusive for the blog, Kaye graciously granted permission to share the photos from the recording session:

Maurice LaMarche and Frank Welker


Cree Summer and Frank Welker


Group photo for a recording session of an episode of 'Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated': Left-to-right: Frank Welker, Maurice LaMarche, Collette Sunderman (voice director), David Kaye, Mitch Watson (writer).

And on a related Scooby note, I neglected to mention the February 16th release of Scooby Doo: Abracadabra-Doo in my VAs on DVD coverage earlier this year, but it’s worth the rental. It’s been well-received by fans (click here comments via Scoobyfan.net) and it also received positive reviews (toonzone called it “an uncommonly good Scooby-Doo movie”) due to its return-to-roots retro look and feel as well as some of best 2D animation Warner Bros Animation has produced for a Scooby feature since Scooby Doo on Zombie Island (1998).

Overall, it’s also one of the most entertaining Scooby features released in the last decade (or more). It just seems like more attention was given to producing a quality product which appealed both to kids and nostalgic Scooby Doo fans. For starters, it’s directed by Spike Brandt (Duck Dodgers, Animaniacs), and both Alan Burnett and Paul Dini — two of animation’s top writers — were involved in developing/writing the story and teleplay.

And it boasts a great cast too. Of course you’ll hear Welker, DeLisle, Cohn and Lillard (as Shaggy), and guest stars include Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years), Brian Posehn (Mission Hill, Transformers Animated), Jeffrey Tambor (The Larry Sanders Show), and comedian Dave Attell as the voice of the Mystery Machine’s wisecracking GPS. Also listen for cartoon voice acting regulars John DiMaggio, Dee Bradley Baker, Crystal Scales, Olivia Hack, Diane Delano, James Patrick Stuart, and John Stephenson whom I believe has voiced a character in nearly every Scooby Doo production since 1969.

Wikipedia also mentions a Scooby-Doo and the Wild West Frankenstein animated D2V feature for 2011, but I have been unable to find any sources confirming this title. And according to a post on ScoobyAddicts.com, there was a Wikipedia entry in October 2009 which listed this title as Scooby Doo and the Wild West Boogeyman. The listing was removed less than a week later.

A very special thanks to David Kaye — DavidKaye.com for the photos.


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.


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

02.13.2010

I’ll continue to update this report on the Toy Story 3 cast as the highly-anticipated June 18th, 2010 release date approaches.

Update: 2.15.2010:

Toy Story 3 represents at NYC’s 2010 International Toy Fair. Disney’s official press release has the full details, and here are some publicity photos from the event featuring: “John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, Lee Unkrich, director, Toy Story 3, Darla K. Anderson, producer, Toy Story 3 and John Ratzenberger, voice of Hamm.”

(February 14, 2010, NY, NY) Actor John Ratzenberger, voice of Toy Story character Hamm, and John Lasseter, creator of Toy Story, unveiled more than 250 new Toy Story 3 toys including, Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear at a Disney-Pixar event during the American International Toy Fair in New York City. Ratzenberger is known as Pixar's 'lucky charm' as he's appeared in every Pixar film to date. Toy Story 3 releases in U.S. theaters June 18, 2010. (Photo/Stuart Ramson)

(February 14, 2010, NY, NY) John Lasseter, creator of Toy Story, studies a life-size bust of his likeness made of LEGO bricks at a Disney-Pixar event where more than 250 new Toy Story 3 toys were unveiled during the American International Toy Fair in New York City. With this one-of-a-kind piece, LEGO celebrates Lasseter’s induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame and the upcoming release of Toy Story 3 in U.S. theaters June 18, 2010.(Photo/Stuart Ramson)

Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 3 kicked off the American International Toy Fair in New York City with a plethora of new toys and playthings that pay homage and celebrate the best the toy industry has to offer. In a playful, Toy Story-themed setting before an invitation-only crowd of toy industry insiders, Green Army Men descended from the ceiling in 'take-over' mode as they helped John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, Lee Unkrich, director, Toy Story 3, Darla K. Anderson, producer, Toy Story 3 and John Ratzenberger, voice of Hamm, unveil a first look at some of the more than 250 new toys releasing this Summer and into the 2010 Holidays. In this picture from left to right: Darla K. Anderson, John Lasseter, and Lee Unrich with the life-size LEGO bust of Lasseter. (Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010.)

Elsewhere, The Hollywood Reporter briefly interviewed Ratzenberger at the event, who “lauded Pixar for producing films using not focus groups, but instinct in what he says is a throw-back to the golden age of Hollywood. ‘It all comes exactly from the heart,’ he said.”

Originally published 2.13.2010:

– The new Toy Story 3 trailer is now available (via toonzone.net).

– I’ve been asked a few times recently who will be replacing the late Jim Varney as the voice of Slinky Dog in Toy Story 3, and I keep forgetting to mention it here. TS3 director Lee Unkrich actually announced via video on October 12, 2009 that the voice would be provided by Blake Clark who not only sounds incredibly like Varney but Unkrich says Clark was a longtime, close friend of Varney’s as well.

– The new trailer (linked above) features the first time we hear the voices of Michael Keaton as Ken, Ned Beatty as “Lotso” (aka “Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear”) and Whoopi Goldberg as the “Purple Octopus.” I’m still trying to I.D. the voice of the Triceratops toy and the Fisher Price toy phone — any guesses would be welcome via the comment box below.

Disney also released a 1-minute featurette in January which features the voice of Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants (via Disney’s official YouTube channel, which Disney has disabled embedding for so click the links to view the trailers):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-tI3JL-Kck

In October 2009, Disney released a trailer which features the voice of Blake Clark as Slinky Dog:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcpWXaA2qeg

– On Feb. 11th, Unkrich stated via Twitter (@leeunkrich): “I perform a single line of dialogue in Toy Story 3, and that line happens to be in the trailer.” In a follow-up post he revealed it’s the voice of the Jack in the box toy.

– According to IMDb.com and Wikipedia.org, following is the Toy Story 3 voice cast list (noted as confirmed or rumored in parentheses).

  • Tom Hanks – Woody (confirmed)
  • Tim Allen – Buzz Lightyear (confirmed)
  • Joan Cusack – Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl (confirmed)
  • John Ratzenberger – Hamm the Piggy Bank (confirmed)
  • Wallace Shawn – Rex (confirmed)
  • Don Rickles – Mr. Potato Head (confirmed)
  • Estelle Harris – Mrs. Potato Head (confirmed)
  • Blake Clark – Slinky Dog (confirmed)
  • Annie Potts – Bo Peep (character confirmed; it’s assumed that Potts will reprise her role but it’s still unconfirmed)
  • Jeff Pidgeon – Aliens, aka “Little Green Men” (characters confirmed; it’s assumed that Pidgeon will reprise his roles from the previous 2 films)
  • Jodi Benson – Barbie (confirmed)
  • Michael Keaton – Ken (confirmed)
  • Lee Unkrich – Jack in the Box (confirmed)
  • Whoopi Goldberg – “Purple Octopus” (character still unnamed, voice confirmed)
  • Bonnie Hunt – “Purple-haired doll” (character still unnamed, voice confirmed)
  • John Morris – Andy Davis (confirmed)
  • Laurie Metcalf – Mrs. Davis (Andy’s mom, confirmed)
  • R. Lee Ermey – Sergeant (the Army Men are confirmed to appear; it’s assumed that Ermey will reprise his role as Sergeant)
  • Timothy Dalton – Mr. Pricklepants (confirmed)
  • Kristen Schaal – Trixie (character name rumored, voice confirmed)
  • Ned Beatty – “Lotso,” aka “Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear” (confirmed)
  • Jeff Garlin – Twitch (rumored)

On Nov. 8, 2009, Unkrich confirmed via Twitter that RC, Lenny, and Wheezy would return for TS3. While RC doesn’t “speak” (except for whirring sounds), Lenny (the toy Binoculars) and Wheezy (squeaky penguin toy) were both originally voiced by the late Joe Ranft. It has not been announced if Lenny or Wheezy will have speaking lines in TS3.

Slashfilm.com has a pictorial analysis of “easter eggs” hidden in the new trailer (linked above).

– TS3 director Unkrich has also been “tweeting” photos of the cast in the recording studio:
Beatrice Miller (Andy’s sister)
Wallace Shawn (Rex) and additional photo here
Michael Keaton (Ken)
Tim Allen (Buzz)
Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head)
Timothy Dalton (Mr. Pricklepants)
John Ratzenberger (Hamm)
Tom Hanks (Woody)
Estelle Harris (Mrs. Potato Head)
Bonnie Hunt (not yet announced)

Unkrich has also been auctioning Pixar memorabilia on ebay as a fundraiser for Haiti relief, including items signed by Pixar’s voice actors.

John Morris, voice of Andy Davis in the Toy Story series, is now on Twitter.

– Check out the Toy Story 3 trailer in 40 different languages.

Additional sources: IMDb.com, Wikpedia.org, ComingSoon.net


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


Voice Cast Cavalcade: The Simpsons

01.11.2010

Originally a news brief, this post has since been expanded into a feature article to commemorate 20 years of “The Simpsons” by spotlighting the show’s voice cast and guest stars. Please scroll down for the most recent updates.

© Image courtesy Fox Broadcasting

Originally posted 1.11.2010:

NYDailyNews.com has a pictorial showcasing “The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: the faces behind the iconic cartoon” which includes 56 photos of the principal cast and many of the show’s celebrity guest stars over the last two decades and the characters they voiced.

Of note are some of the lesser-recognized members of the supporting cast: Frank Welker, Pamela Hayden, Maggie Roswell, Marcia Wallace, Tress MacNeille and Russi Taylor.

Update: 1.12.2010, 2:30 PM (EST)Time.com has a pictorial on “The Simpsons Greatest Guest Voice Appearances” featuring “a gallery of 20 of the world’s most illustrious personalities as skewered by Matt Groening.”

(Thanks to VoiceChasers for the heads-up via Twitter.)

Elsewhere, Macleans.ca blogger Jaime Weinman illustrates how The Simpsons’ cast has helped simple one-shot, castaway characters become recurring fan favorites.

Update: 7:30 PM (EST) — If you missed seeing “The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3-D! On Ice!” when it premiered on FOX Sunday, Jan. 10th, as of Monday, Jan. 11th the entire episode is available on Hulu.com. (Sorry, I am unable to embed Hulu videos via WordPress.)

I believe fans can also expect an extended “director’s cut” to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2010.

[I’ve deleted the original YouTube link to the documentary for legal reasons.]

The documentary (which has a run-time of around 42 minutes) features the following voice talents:

Mike Judge (Beavis & Butthead, King of the Hill, The Goode Family)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show)
Julie Kavner, voice of Marge Simpson
Yeardley Smith, voice of Maggie
Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart
Hank Azaria, voice of Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum
Dan Castellaneta, voice of Homer, Grandpa Simpson, Krusty, Mayor Quimby
Dana Gould (The Simpsons, Clerks: The Cartoon, Gex video game series)
David Cross (Kung Fu Panda, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Freak Show)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park)
– …and several of the shows guest stars such as Sting, Jerry Springer, Conan O’Brien and Hugh Hefner.

[Simpsons’ cast member Harry Shearer is noticeably absent from the documentary. Shearer performs the voices of Ned Flanders, Kent Brockman, Principal Skinner, Mr. Burns, Smithers, Rev. Lovejoy, Lenny, Scratchy and many others.]

Additionally, TVSquad blogger Jason Hughes has a thorough review of the special. Here’s an excerpt:

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me, 30 Days) quite literally traveled the globe speaking to fans of all walks of life. He found the largest single collection of Simpsons merchandise and it was a frightening and beautiful thing to see. It spotlighted just how important this show is to some people, and how much these characters have resonated with generations of fans now.

It was also great seeing the interviews with the voice actors, as we so rarely get to see the faces that go with so many of the voices on the show. There are so many great characters on The Simpsons, it’s hard to imagine that so few actors voice all of them. Personally, I would have gotten a huge kick out of seeing them all do their big characters, but maybe that’s just me. The work that goes on behind each episode fascinates me.

Elsewhere, National Post columnist Robert Cushman has an opinionated review of Spurlock’s documentary.

Update: 8:00 PM (EST)OnTheBox.com has a review of The Simpsons: Access All Areas, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show. It aired only in the UK on SKY1 on Monday, Jan. 11th.

[Update: 1.13.2010 — According to the UK’s Press and Journal, this was the first of a series of three special featurettes airing on SKY1 during the week.]

Narrated by Ricky Gervais (BBC’s The Office), it featured interviews with the show’s cast and crew, including creator Matt Groening, producer Al Jean, composer Alf Clausen, voice actors Dan Castellaneta and Nancy Cartwright, other of the show’s writers and artists and token celebrities Christina Ricci, Tony Hawk and Simon Cowell (who all voiced cameos in the series).

Update: 8:15 PM (EST) — Video interview with Yeardley Smith on FOX’s Good Day LA.

Hank Azaria posts 1.11.2010 via Twitter:

It was actually 22 years ago that the simpsons began for me, so next year when I turn 46, I’ll have been doing it for half my life. Sheesh.

– The Niles Daily Star has a retrospective on 20 years of The Simpsons, including commentary on the show’s voice cast. It also quotes Harry Shearer (via The Associated Press):

“I wish I could say that we inspired an awful lot of funny, smart, irreverent, acerbic shows that took a lacerating view of the insitutions of society. But I don’t think we have,” SNL alum Harry Shearer, 66, who voices Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, the Rev. Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Dr. Hibbert and Principal Skinner, told The Associated Press.

Shearer, who also pummeled the pretensions of rock music as bassist Derek Smalls in 1984’s magnificent mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap,” said satire doesn’t change anything with its scorn.

“For instance,” he said, “after 20 years and 450 episodes, I don’t really think ‘The Simpsons’ has increased the country’s skepticism about nuclear power,” which employs the bumbling Homer as a safety inspector.

Update: 8:45 PM (EST)TheImproper.com has some behind-the-scenes “secrets” on the show’s celebrity guest voices from Hank Azaria and writer/producer Al Jean.

Azaria recalls meeting Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger at the door just before a Simpsons recording session:

“I said, ‘Hey, Mick, we’re thrilled to have you here.’ And he kind of blew right by me like I was the greeter, and went, all dismissively, ‘Yeah, we’ll get it.’

“It made me a little bit annoyed. I knew it was going to get awkward, because I was about to walk upstairs and record with him,” Azaria said.

Al Jean discusses having to turn down celebrity requests to be on the show, such as David Beckham who didn’t make the cut because the show’s producers “didn’t think he was famous enough.” Jean says they ended up getting “a lot of grief” over it, saying it made some people “really angry.” Jean adds, “We get a lot of requests from celebrities, and it’s always a shame when we have to turn people down.”

The Altoona Mirror has a very insightful interview with The Simpsons’ associate producer Brian Kaufman discussing the recording process and directing sessions with the series’ cast and guest stars.

Kaufman, who’s been part of The Simpsons‘ production staff for 12 years, says that it takes about “nine months to produce a show, between all of the components of production,” and reveals that there are “enough new episodes to air through the spring, but even the staff isn’t sure if or when the series will end.”

“It’s kind of renewed in chunks, because of the the contracts – there are deals with the studio, with the actors,” he said. “There are a lot of contractual obligations, and every time one of them comes up, it’s like, ‘Oh, this is it.’ But then they’ll renew for another season.”

On the recording process, Kaufman says, “It’s great to work with the actors, to be on the stage with them, directing them. On the recording stage, it’s usually myself, a writer and the actors. All the actors are there when we do the original recording, but once all the changes – the re-writes – are done, we call them in separately.”

Kaufman says he limits recording lines to “[no] more than 10 takes.” After that, he explains, “the words lose meaning.”

On working with the cast, Kaufman says:

“You have to trust the actors’ instincts. A lot of times, they gave you the best option on the first take. It’s my job to say, ‘OK, we got it.'”

At this point, the cast is “pretty tame,” Kaufman said, because they’ve been working together for so long. He said Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer, is the “funniest” actor to work with, and he’s amazed by the talent of Harry Shearer, who can hold conversations between the many different characters he voices.

Update: 11:30 PM (EST) — Collection of video interviews released to the media by FOX, featuring Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Hank Azaria, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Marcia Wallace and Pamela Hayden:

– On the show’s beginning:

– On casting:

– On performing the characters and being recognized in public:

– On the guest stars:

– On the show’s relevance to society and how it mirrors real life:

– On the show’s success and how proud the cast is to have been a part of it:

Update: 1.13.2010, 1:00 AM (EST) — Best-selling author Mitch Albom (Tuesdays With Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven) details his experience — via The Detroit Free Press — recording dialog for his cameo in The Simpsons’ episode “Thursdays With Abie.”

Update: 3:15 AM (EST) — Voices.com co-founder Stephanie Ciccarelli blogs via Vox Daily about the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons, explaining the influence the series has had on the voiceover industry and community.

Update: 2:30 PM (EST)iF Magazine reports 1.11.2010 on the future of “The Simpsons”:

[We] approached Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly about how long he sees THE SIMPSONS staying on Fox, now that it’s reached its 20-year milestone.

“We have it for two more seasons and then we’ll sit down and see where we are,” says Reilly. “The show is extraordinary. We just celebrated twenty years. I’m certainly not gunning for it. It’s still creatively vibrant. The show is up again this season. It’s just just mind-blowing the breadth of creativity that’s still coming out of that camp.”

And in a closely-related interview (via TVGuide.com) with Simpsons executive producer Al Jean, he says he doesn’t feel the end of the show is “imminent.”

“There have been a lot of great endings but we’ve done them all,” says Jean. “Like the ‘Behind the Laughter’ episode. ‘Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind’ would have been a good one. ‘Lisa’ First Word,’ when Maggie spoke, would have been a good one. One thing I learned in television is don’t save it; if you got something good, air it. I have an idea for the last episode but I don’t want to say it.”

In the same interview, Jean says that his “favorite guest star might be Kelsey Grammer [Sideshow Bob] and it’s a really tough contest because there are so many great ones. His voice gives you so much.”

Jean also reflects on the significance of having the late pop star Michael Jackson involved in the show:

It was one of the many amazing things that happened to me while working on the show. He had said to Jim Brooks, ‘I want to be on the show and I want to write a No. 1 song for Bart.’ And he did and he did, it was No. 1.[Jackson co-wrote — although uncredited — the song “Do the Bartman,” which reached No. 1 in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.] He did come to the table reads and read the script [for the episode “Stark Raving Dad”] but when it came to the singing, he wanted a sound-alike to do the recording and we never really understood why. I did hear him sing and of course he was great. It was one of the coolest things I’ve been involved with.

Elsewhere, IGN.com has an exclusive video with a “special anniversary message” from the King of the Hill cast, featuring the voices of Mike Judge, Stephen Root and Johnny Hardwick.

Update: 3:00 PM (EST)

– Morgan Spurlock talks with Newsarama about the making of “The Simpsons” documentary.

Harry Shearer and Yeardley Smith reflect on 20 years of “The Simpsons” with the Boston Globe.

Nancy Cartwright says in an interview with the UK’s Press and Journal that she has a history of being mistaken for a boy.

“I was about seven when people started making comments about my voice,” Cartwright says. “And being seven and having short hair I had an androgynous quality, so people didn’t know whether I was a boy or a girl. But I just used my voice to make people laugh and, because it made people laugh, it made me happy.”

And after 20 years, when asked what she would like to happen to Bart, Nancy replies, “I’d like Bart to meet Hugh Jackman [X-Men series, The Prestige] – I don’t know if Bart would necessarily want to meet him, but Nancy Cartwright would.”

Update: 1.14.2010, 1:30 PM

TheTakeaway.org has an audio interview with Harry Shearer discussing 20 years of “The Simpsons.”

Also, NewsOK.com has a short piece celebrating Shearer’s 66th birthday on Dec. 23rd.

Media Bistro has a video interview with “The Simpsons” documentary director Morgan Spurlock.

Yahoo News has an interview with Harry Shearer (via The Associated Press).

The Sioux City Journal interviews Yeardley Smith.

Look for more articles to be added to this report in the near future, as several of The Simpsons’ cast have been interviewed recently to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the series.