Animation Casting Director Interviewed

07.12.2010

BackStage.com has a feature article on “Actors Casting Directors Love” which mostly covers on-camera actors, but there’s an interesting quote from animation casting director Bernie Van De Yacht that I felt was worth repeating here:

[As] an animation casting director, I generally don’t try to narrow it down to whether they have voiceover experience or not. A good actor is a good actor, no matter what arena they’re acting in. Sometimes it’s a detriment if they’ve done too much voiceover work, because then they tend to sound a little bit cartoonish; sometimes the heart and soul is missing. And if somebody has never done it before and is just a really good actor and can create an entire world in a soundproof booth with a microphone, it’s amazing. It’s kind of like an actor on stage having to do a soliloquy, where they have to hold the interest of the audience by themselves and with nothing else and we have to be able to visualize what they’re saying. And I think that actors who are good at that tend to be very good voiceover actors. They’re the ones that excite us.


Daytime Emmy Nominations Announced

05.13.2010

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has announced the nominees for the 37th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy® Awards.

Voice acting-related nominees for “Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series”:

Kevin Clash as Elmo, Sesame Street
Caroll Spinney as Big Bird, Sesame Street
Joey Mazzarino as Stinky, Myrry & Blogg, Sesame Street
David Rudman as Baby Bear, Sesame Street

Nominees for “Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program”:

Ed Asner as Kid Potato, WordGirl (PBS)
Eartha Kitt as Cool Cat, The Wonder Pets! (Nick)
Amy Poehler as Bessie Higgenbottom, The Mighty B! (Nick)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman as William Fillmore Toffman, Arthur (PBS)

Voice acting-related mentions for “Outstanding Directing in an Animated Program”:

Cynthia True, voice director: The Mighty B! (Nick)
Andrea Romano, voice director: SpongeBob SquarePants (Nick)
Lisa Schaffer, voice director: The Penguins of Madagascar (Nick)
Ginny McSwain, voice director: Fanboy and Chum Chum (Nick)

Some of Seasame Street‘s Muppet performers were also included in nominations for “Outstanding Directing in a Children’s Series”: Kevin Clash, Matt Vogel and Joey Mazzarino, and Mazzarino was also included in a nomination for “Outstanding Writing in a Children’s Series” (he serves as the head writer for Sesame Street).

Nominees for the category for “Outstanding Childrens’ Animated Program”:

– WordGirl (PBS)
– The Backyardigans (Nick)
– Curious George (PBS)
– Sid The Science Kid (PBS)

Also related to animation, PBS’ Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman was nominated for “Outstanding Children’s Series.”

Nominees of note in “Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition”:

– The Wonder Pets! (Nick)
– Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 (CN)
– Phineas & Ferb (Disney Channel)
– The Penguins of Madagascar (Nick)

Nominees of note in “Outstanding Original Song – Children’s and Animation”:

– “Nochebuena Song,” Dora The Explorer (Nick)
– “It’s a P-H!,” Between the Lions (PBS)
– “A Fiddler Crab Am I,” The Wonder Pets! (Nick)
– “Come Home Perry,” Phineas & Ferb (Disney Channel)
– “Song About Elmo,” Sesame Street (PBS)

And the main title theme for Disney Channel’s Special Agent Oso was nominated for “Outstanding Original Song.”

Also wanted to point out that a couple of the voice cast for WordGirl were included in nominations for “Outstanding Writing in Animation”: Jack Ferraiolo and Ryan Raddatz. And on a related note, Ryan Raddatz says of the three WordGirl Emmy nominations via his official site — RyanRaddatz.com: “I’m thrilled to be a part of the WordGirl team, and doubly thrilled to be recognized for our work.” Raddatz added that a PBS series he helped write, Fizzy’s Lunch Lab, “is nominated in the curiously named ‘New Approaches’ category.”

And just for kicks, here’s a breakdown of the total Emmy noms for networks and shows of interest (as they relate to this blog):

PBS 53
Nickelodeon 25
Disney Channel 5

And shows receiving “multiple nominations”:

Sesame Street 14
Disney Phineas and Ferb 4
Fanboy and Chum Chum 4
The Penguins of Madagascar 4
The Wonder Pets! 4
The Fairly OddParents 3
Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman 3
Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 3
WordGirl 3
Between the Lions 2
The Mighty B! 2
Sid The Science Kid 2
Spongebob Squarepants 2

“The Daytime Entertainment Emmy® Awards” are scheduled to air on CBS June 27th, 2010. You can view the full list of nominees via EmmyOnline.org.


Adventures in Voice Acting Offers Free Webinar

05.11.2010

On May 17th, Bang Zoom! Entertainement and Tony Oliver will host a free Adventures in Voice Acting webinar from 5:30-6:30 PM (EST). The press release follows:

A free webinar about breaking into and working in the Voice Acting business. We will cover some basics you need to learn, give some advice as to how to proceed and provide a chance for you to ask questions. We will also tell you about future webinars and how you can subscribe to them. This webinar will be conducted by veteran Voice Actor & Director Tony Oliver and is sponsored by Bang Zoom! Entertainment.

To register click the link below:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/551561433


Samantha Newark’s Plea for Nashville Flood Victims

05.11.2010

The following message was sent out through the Samantha Newark Mailing List. Samantha, whom fans know as the voice of Jem from JEM! and the Holgrams, is also a Nashville resident.

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

THE NASHVILLE DISASTER AND WAYS YOU CAN HELP YOUR MUSIC CITY NEIGHBORS

I was fortunate, myself and my loved ones managed to escape damage at my house but I feel like I’m on an island and there is devastation all around me.

Two of the people that drowned were found right where I buy my groceries about 3 miles from my home. Hard to believe there were cars upside down floating in the intersection there on Sunday. They still have no power in that area.

The following is a letter that was forwarded to me from a friend in the music community. Here he shares the scope of this mega flood and also ways you can help your fellow neighbors in Nashville.

Since I hadn’t heard from many of my friends in LA since this happened I started to realize that the news coverage had been very sporadic so I’m doing my part to assist in a little way and get the word out to my fans.

Thanks,

SAMANTHA XO
============================================

Hi,

I have been asked by friends, family and SongU.com members from around the world how they can help those in TN affected by the flood. I realize it’s hard to completely understand the magnitude of what happened here. I live here and I can’t comprehend it. This was a historical record rainfall for Nashville and middle TN. We had more rain than we’ve ever had since they began tracking rainfall. We topped the state’s record for rainfall in the entire month of May before sundown on May 2nd. We had about 40% of Seattle’s annual rainfall in less than 2 days. If this was snow, we would have had the equivalent of 13 feet of snow in less than 48 hours. This is not a once-in-a-while kind of flood. No, this one’s in the record books. It’s a once-every-hundred-or-two-hundred-years kind of flood.

The devastation is so widespread, it’s unbelievable. You would probably have to submerge my entire home state of NJ in water to cover as much area as this flood has covered in TN. While a few of these areas are flood prone, the majority are not and a large portion of the people affected do not have flood insurance. Just to give you a better picture of my little world, I could easily draw a one-hour radius from my house and barely scratch the surface of people affected. Across the road from our development, one of our daughter’s elementary school teachers lost everything in the flood. Just up the street at the Fieldstone Farms development, they were rescuing people in boats – one house in Fieldstone caught fire and blew up. Drive south for about 30 minutes, you would get to my friend Dale and Carol’s farm which is home to the annual Blackberry Jam Festival where Michael McDonald played a couple years ago. Their entire first floor of their house was submerged in water. It took a group of four of us about 3 hours just to clean the mud out of one bathroom in their house. Drive west about 40 minutes and you’ll get to Bellevue, an area I lived in when I first moved to Nashville. Entire neighborhoods are underwater. Our friend Gary and Robin’s house managed to escape with about a foot of water, but the rest of their cul-de-sac was submerged. Cars were floating upside down on the road in front of the nearby Belle Meade Kroger. Two people died when their car turned over. Two others drowned behind the Belle Meade Kroger. Head northeast about 40 minutes to Hermitage and you’d get to my friend Denise’s house. The water level is at the top of her garage — she needs a boat just to reach her house. Head north another 30-40 minutes to Goodlettsville and Hendersonville and you’ll find the houses of some of my students and faculty at the college where I teach that were destroyed due to the flood.

Somewhere in the center of all this is downtown Nashville. The Country Music Hall of Fame, the Schermerhorn Center, Broadway and Second Avenue all flooded. The Titans Stadium where my seven year old daughter, Mia, ran the Country Kids Marathon a week ago was flooded up to the level of the first row of seats in the stadium. Other historic landmarks that are synonymous with Nashville are badly flooded and damaged, including Opryland Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry. It is going to take a lot of time and resources for Nashville and all the areas affected by this catastrophic flood to recover. Here are some ways you can help:

Donate money. You can donate to the middle TN Red Cross online at http://www.middletennredcross.org. If you’re a texter, you can text REDCROSS to 90999 on your cell and a $10 donation will be sent to the middle TN Red Cross through your cell phone provider.

Donate stuff. People lost everything. While you can’t replace possessions with sentimental value, you can give someone a shirt to wear or sneakers for their kids or towels or rags so they can clean the mud out of their bathtub. If you’re on Facebook, check out the clothing drive for middle TN residents at: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=113883681985618&ref=ts or the cleaning supply drive at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=111188545589696.

Participate in clean up crews. If you live within driving distance and have the time or skills and want to help cleanup and rebuild, go to Hands-On-Nashville at http://www.hon.org. They need volunteers immediately.

Donate food. Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle TN is continuing to provide a central distribution center for companies, groups, and individuals to help provide food for Middle Tennessee’s affected families. Check it out at: http://www.secondharvestmidtn.org/

Plan to visit. Nashville is a great city that has many businesses and jobs that depend on tourism. Come see us. Plan your next family summer vacation or next year’s business conference here. Check out the Nashville Chamber of Commerce for more information at http://www.nashvillechamber.com/Homepage.aspx

Spread the word. Others may not necessarily realize how bad we were hit because of the way the media industry and news organizations work. People are going to need assistance down here for a long time in order to rebuild their lives and restore our historical landmarks like the Grand Ole Opry, Opryland Hotel, Country Music Hall of Fame and historic Second Avenue.

For more information on how you can help visit: http://nashvillest.com/2010/05/03/so-nashville-is-flooded-how-can-i-help/comment-page-2/
I love Nashville. It’s a big name city that has a small town feel. Contrary to its sequined, cowboy hat and boots image, Nashville is an incredibly diverse city where the music industry, universities, and lifestyle brings together people from all walks of life, whether they’re writing a song or watching a TN Titans or UT football game. We have one other thing in common – we love our city. If you’ve seen some of the videos and pictures that have been posted, you can probably see why we are referred to as the “Volunteer State.” When the time calls for it, we simply roll up our sleeves and get down to it because there is work to be done.

And there is much work to be done. One of my friends who works at one of the major media outlets in the New York-Metropolitan area relayed to me that Nashville hasn’t been getting a lot of national coverage because our story lacks the “hook” of some of the other currently hot issues like the oil spill and the bomb in Times Square. I get that. I’m a longtime songwriter who certainly understands the power of a “hook”. Truthfully, even if we had our “15 minutes” of full-court press media coverage, it wouldn’t begin to touch how many months or years this recovery is going to take. And it could never cover how many lives have been affected. So spread the word and pass it on. From donations to positive energy and prayers, it is all welcome and needed. This is my city and these are my friends and neighbors.

Best wishes,

– Danny Arena

Related post: 4.26.2010 — Samantha Newark Performs for Free Comic Book Day


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.


FreedomWorks Bullies GEICO To Axe Voice Over Actor

04.21.2010

For Immediate Release:

GEICO voice over actor targeted by Tea Party members
after expressing opinion on FreedomWorks voicemail

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 21, 2010 — Los Angeles actor, D.C. Douglas, says he was dropped from the upcoming GEICO “Shocking News” campaign after a group of Tea Party members harassed him and the insurance giant over a private voicemail the actor left for FreedomWorks. Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, posted Mr. Douglas’ cell phone number in a blog post on biggovernment.com, instructing readers to “Feel free to contact (him)… call his employer too. Let them know that you…are now in the market for car insurance.” The next day, GEICO held auditions to replace Mr. Douglas’ voice on the campaign.

Mr. Douglas’ message hardly warranted the mobilization of the Tea Party Movement. Upset by the recent gay and racial slurs slung by Tea Party members at Congressman Barney Frank and Representative John Lewis during the Health Care Reform Weekend, Mr. Douglas left his opinion of FreedomWorks’ staff and followers on their company voicemail and included his phone number.

“I called as a private citizen to make a complaint,” explains Mr. Douglas. “Racism and homophobia are my Achilles heel, but unfortunately my message included inappropriate words and I am sorry for that. However, telling their members to harass my employer to get me fired is an egregiously disproportionate response to my actions.”

Mr. Douglas believes his connection to GEICO, a company already on FreedomWorks’ boycott list for pulling their ads from Glenn Beck’s show, is the main reason he was targeted so forcefully. “Even though I left the message during the week of March 23, the harassing calls didn’t hit until April 14, the morning after I posted about my GEICO campaign on my Facebook page.”

However, how the firing of a voice over actor constitutes a Tea Party success remains a mystery, as Mr. Douglas points out. “It seems to me that they’re more about the politics of destruction than they are about affecting positive change for the country.”

“I do want to make one thing clear,” Mr. Douglas adds, “I don’t blame GEICO for protecting themselves. They have a business to run and can’t waste time getting caught up in FreedomWorks’ circus. And they’ve been very good to me in the past.”

Mr. Douglas consulted with several Los Angeles attorneys and has been advised that FreedomWorks’ actions were questionable. Though he’s not planning on spending money to sue the organization, he’s open to any attorneys taking on this case pro bono. “We can’t let these kinds of tactics become the norm in our country. If we do, then anybody can lose their job just for voicing an opinion.” And Mr. Douglas won’t be silenced; he has posted his personal take on the events on his blog: www.DCDouglasBlog.com.


Game Informer Interviews Nolan North

04.20.2010

The May 2010 print edition of Game Informer Magazine has a three-page feature on Nolan North, which includes an interview where he discusses “his rise to prominence in video games.”

North also responds to criticisms that he’s “overused,” particularly in regards to his “Nathan Drake” character from Uncharted. For starters, North says he can’t help how he’s directed.

“There have been a few roles where I….said, ‘this shouldn’t sound like this. Can we do something a little different? Give him an accent or something?’ But they said, ‘No, don’t worry about the voice.'”

North says this concerned him “for a while” and he was hearing reports that there would be backlash from fans because he recorded a series of games where he was basically performing the same voice, and they were all released around the same time.

“I don’t think that will happen again,” says North.

North says Nathan Drake is also his favorite role, but it’s a “whole performance capture” and very close to what North is actually like in real life. “He even walks and runs like me,” North adds. And he was directed to not play the character, but to play himself “in his personality, as though his name were Nathan Drake.”

North has now recorded voices for so many video games that even he doesn’t know how many there have been to date. “Probably over a hundred games. But that’s the great thing about voiceover, I get to play hundreds of characters. Hundreds! Sometimes it’s zombies, sometimes it’s an animal, and sometimes it’s the good guy. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t want to play the same character my whole career. I’m basically a professional schizophrenic.”

And as a bonus, here’s video from North’s February 1999 guest appearance on GSN’s Match Game:

Related post: 2.01.2010 — Nolan North Has Harsh Critics