Happy 12th Blogiversary to Us!

11.16.2011

November 16, 2011 marks the 12th anniversary of Voice Actors in the News since it began as a self-published fanzine.

To celebrate this occasion, we are pleased to announce…

After two years of planning, redesigning, upgrading, archiving and beta-testing (most of which I cannot take credit for), Voice Actors in the News has finally moved to its new home: VOICEACTORSNEWS.COM, graciously redesigned from scratch and hosted by toonzone.net.

Please update your bookmarks accordingly, and for our subscribers we do have an RSS feed available on the new site.

This plain white bread-looking version of the blog will no longer be updated, but will remain here for posterity. Our entire database here — more than 700 entries — has already been duplicated and archived on the new site.

Furthermore, The Voice Actors Appreciation Society — one of the web’s first communities for voice actor fans — also has a new home on toonzone’s forums.

Thanks to our fans for supporting us over the last 12 years. The new site will give us an opportunity to expand and grow far beyond what has been achieved here. And we will continue to provide daily entertainment news, info and resources related to voice actors and voice acting, as we strive to promote the work of and bring recognition to voice actors in all media.

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


We Heart Stephanie Sheh

10.01.2011

For those unable to attend the WE HEART JAPAN — WEHEARTJAPAN.COM — event in Hollywood, CA on Saturday, October 1st from 5-8pm, we thought we would bring a little of the event to you, courtesy of this exclusive interview with WE HEART JAPAN’s founder, Stephanie Sheh, anime voice talent, director, writer and producer.

And if you live within a 3-4 hour drive of Hollywood and you are an anime and voice actor fan, and you haven’t decided about attending the event… are you kidding me? Why would you want to miss out on a live performance by award-winning singer & songwriter/anime actress Mari Ijimi (Macross), and a Cowboy Bebop U.S. voice cast reunion and live episode reading featuring Steve Blum, Melissa Fahn, Beau Billingslea, Wendee Lee, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, and Stephanie Sheh.

Seriously. Go and be a part of this historic event and a great charitable cause — all proceeds are being donated to the Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund.

You can purchase tickets online at WEHEARTJAPAN.COM. And if you are unable to attend but would still like to make a donation, you can make inquiry through the website.

And special thanks to Stephanie Sheh for taking the time to do this interview via e-mail on short notice:

Q: You’ve had the opportunity to voice characters for some of the most popular anime series in the last decade. Which one was the greatest challenge for you, and why?

Stephanie Sheh headshot courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/stephaniesheh

STEPHANIE: They’re all challenging in their own ways. Penny from Zatch Bell was challenging because it was vocally straining. Silky from I’m Gonna be an Angel was hard because you had to convey tons of emotion in just [one] word lots of times. Then there was probably the most challenging one, which was a job I got fired from. I was so new to voiceover at the time that I understand what happened. It was a traumatic experience, but it was all for the best in the end.

Q: You have the distinction of having been a cast member in two of the oddest, quirkiest, most bizarre anime imports ever to be dubbed for English audiences: “FLCL” (aka “Fooly Cooly”) and “Bobobo… with a bunch more Bo-bos.” When you first auditioned for these shows, what were your first impressions? And after you were cast, did you ever imagine the scripts could possibly get any stranger or more ridiculous?

STEPHANIE: Well I produced FLCL so I knew what I was getting myself into. I understood FLCL‘s craziness. It was actually this beautiful complicated piece about growing up and letting go. There were so many themes about loneliness and adolescence. But then again, I can say that ‘cuz it’s like I studied FLCL. With Bobobo, I just came in and voice acted. It seemed wacky funny. I couldn’t tell you if it was about anything deeper though. Not to knock it or anything, I just didn’t have the relationship with that show as I did with FLCL. You’d probably have to ask Michael Sorich [for] his take on it.

Q: Say something nice about Kari Wahlgren and/or Richard Epcar. [Okay, so that wasn’t a question. Sorry.]

STEPHANIE: There are a million nice things I could say about Kari and Epcar. First of all, I hired Kari in her very first anime voiceover role. So it is so cool that I’ve been able to watch her career grow and take off. Kari is one of the most humble and smart girls I know. She really deserves all the success she has in her life. I adore her and I don’t get to hang out with her enough. The truth about Richard Epcar is that he makes the best martinis in Los Angeles. He is a real decent guy with integrity. He’s another one of those people I am blessed to have become friends with through work. That entire family is talented.

Q: Media Blasters recently announced “Bakuman” for release in November. Are you at liberty to talk a little about the series and the character you are voicing? And does Media Blasters seem at all concerned about any potential confusion with “Bakugan”?

STEPHANIE: I am really loving the show. It’s such a great premise and coming from a fan background I love it. I remember when I would try to use screen tone. It really takes me back to my college days and when I was an otaku.

Q: You have a lot of script editing and adaptation to your credit for a number of anime titles. When you are deep in a project like that, how do you take a break from it?

STEPHANIE: Uh…I don’t. I try to power nap. It’s super tough. I guess that’s why I am always wanting to travel and go on vacation ‘cuz all the other times I work sooo hard.

Q: So the “We Heart Japan” charity group/event is your baby, and it’s such a great cause. After the first event in March, what made you decide to do another one in the same year and how did it come about? Are you already planning future events, and if so where/when? Also, have you visited Japan?

STEPHANIE: I’ve visited Japan many times. And I owe so much to that country. I am an actress because I got my start in anime. I have so many friends that I’ve met through work. I love so much about Japan and it breaks my heart that so many people have suffered due to the disaster that occurred. I have visited Japan many times. And I know I will go back again.

I wanted to prove to the world through my charity group that anime fans can give back. Recently there has been a lot of bitterness in the industry towards fans because so many fans steal their anime by downloading illegally and it is a fact that the illegal downloads are killing the industry. That said, I wanted to focus on the positive. I believe that anime fans have generous hearts and can rally together to help the people less fortunate. So why not do something for the community and help out. It was the least that I could do. It is sooo much work and none of my friends who are working on it are getting paid. We all do it to give back to the community.

The October 1st We Heart Performing for Japan Show is going to be epic. Everyone who does not go will without a doubt regret it. For the first time in over a decade the original cast of Cowboy Bebop is returning to do a live reading of an episode. We also have singer/songwriter Mari Ijima performing songs. And we have ex-Power Ranger performers Dan Southworth and TJ Rotolo doing a fight demo on what it’s like to be a Sentai Supervillain. Their demo is gonna be so much fun. It involves audience participation.

There will also be refreshments, autographs, raffle prizes. Every ticket comes with an exclusive We Heart Japan postcard that has original artwork from Gurren Lagan that was drawn solely for our charity group. That means you will not be able to find this artwork in any book or purchase it anywhere. You can only get it by coming to one of our events. The event is from 5pm-8pm and it’s only $40. I really really really hope people turn out for it. And if you can’t make it to Hollywood please tell your friends about it. I heard some people may be getting friends together and taking a road trip. It would totally be worth it.

Thanks, Stephanie! And thanks for making me regret that I can’t be there! ;^)

For more details on We Heart Japan, please click the links below:

WeHeartJapan.com
Facebook – We Heart Japan: Anime Industry Gives Back
Twitter – @WeHeartJapanXO
StephanieSheh.com
Twitter – @StephanieSheh
Facebook: Stephanie Sheh

Stephanie also did recent interviews with The LA Times, the Anime News Network, radio station 98.1 The Fan, and the One Piece Podcast.

And if you haven’t yet seen voice actor D.C. Douglas’ video (and blog) tribute to the March 17, 2011 We Heart Japan event, you must:

Interview conducted by Craig “Voiceroy” Crumpton
Publisher, Voice Actors in the News


Exclusive: InvaderCON Photos

03.27.2011

We have been plugging InvaderCON through our blog’s Facebook page ever since InvaderCON was first announced, and Voice Actors in the News publisher Craig Crumpton has been in attendance at this first (and only!) convention devoted to fans of Nickelodeon’s cult classic animated series Invader ZIM.

Full coverage of the event will be provided via toonzone.net following the convention.

In the meantime, please enjoy some photos from Saturday’s events:

Video has already surfaced on YouTube from Saturday’s live performance of unpublished Invader ZIM scripts:

Many thanks to YouTube user NeoCloud9 for sharing these videos with the fans.

And a special thanks to Green Mustard Entertaiment for providing a media pass for this event.

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


Bob Bergen and Gregg Berger Propose Convention for Voice Actor Fans!

02.05.2011

The following is a repost from the All Things Bob Bergen Facebook Group, with permission from Bob Bergen. It was originally published February 5th, 2011. Please scroll down for the most recent updates.

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Bob Bergen (image courtesy BobBergen.com)


Hi all!

My buddy Gregg Berger and I are working on an idea, and I need your opinions:

ToonCon– a fan convention devoted to fans of animation voice actors.

This would take place on a 3 day cruise out of Los Angeles some time in 2012. Guests would include some of the top animation voice actors from some of the top animated series’ and features in the business. Kind of a cruise vacation/con combo!

Itinerary ideas:
-meet and greet cocktail party
-moderated Q&A with voice actors, as well as animation voice-over agent and voice director
-observing a mock animation recording session, directed by a top animation voice director
-as well as all the things involved on a cruise: miles of food, miles of ocean, port of call, ship’s entertainment, casino, etc.

SO-is this something you’d be interested in? The price would be 2 fold: the cruise itself (about $300-$600, depending on the stateroom size you book) and an additional con fee. (not sure what that would be, but I’m thinking around $150-$250..all depends on final budgets)

Gregg Berger (image courtesy myspace.com/voicevirtue)

Let me know your thoughts! There has been a lot of interest amongst the top animation voice actors out there. If this gets a green light I’ll let you know. My goal is to start selling this in the early Spring. And of course, it will get a big push at the San Diego Comic Con in July.

Cruises book up early, and deposits would be needed to hold cabins. Deposits are refundable up to a certain date before the excursion. But cruise lines will only block off the cabins for a limited time, so early deposits are important to guarantee the best prices and availability.

This is all still in the planning stages. But let me know your thoughts. And if this is something you might be interested in pop me a note and I’ll make sure you get first dibs when this goes on sale.

Best!
Bob Bergen
=======================

Exclusive note for Voice Actors in the News readers: Send your feedback to Bob and Gregg via bob@bobbergen.com and mention that you saw the news here and Bob says he will make sure that those who respond from reading the blog will get priority when they begin taking bookings.

** Update: 3.25.2011 **

Well, we don’t have a genuine “update” on this event…yet. But since we keep getting email inquiries about it, I thought I’d at least share a response from Bob from this question we received from “Ken”:

Bob: I [attended] an animation voiceover [event in Burbank, CA]. I enjoyed it tremendously, made great contacts, good experience and got lots of good reference material. I can probably speak for all of us when I say the convention itself is a good idea but considering the negative publicity several recent cruises have received (mechanical problems, bad weather, etc), I’d prefer to stay on land. I’d also find it EXTREMELY helpful if established voice actors like yourself could give us a bit more insight on how to get our feet in the door.

Bob replied:

Thanks for the feedback. This is still very much in the planning stages. The cruise is really incentive for the voice pros. We do a ton of these sorts of conventions and having a paid vacation on a cruise along with the fan con is a big hit. There will be Q&A planned as a part of the con. But it isn’t a workshop per se. That said, I do hope to have an animation agent and casting director on board as well. And believe it or not, a cruise is far cheaper than doing this on land. I know a cruise isn’t for everyone. But my goal is that this is the first annual con of it’s kind. I’d love for the next one to maybe be on the east coast.

And as far as “issues” regarding cruises, what doesn’t make the news is the hundreds of cruises with no issues each year. But the 2 or 3 problem cruises a year, statistically, should not be of concern. Trust me, more people will have problems flying this year than on a cruise.

Bob has promised to provide further updates as things progress.

And on the mention of voiceover workshops, Bob hosts a recurring one in Los Angeles . . . which is usually sold out a year or two in advance, unfortunately. However, he schedules workshop events and performs his one-man show in other U.S. cities throughout the year. Check his appearances schedule on BobBergen.com to see if he’s coming to a city near you. He still currently has spaces available for his May 21-22 workshop in St. Louis, MO. Here’s the Facebook event link for more details.

** Update: Bob is offering a 10% discount for Voice Actors in the News fans/readers for his St. Louis workshop. If interested, contact Bob’s workshop producer Marian at marian@marianmassaro.com and be sure to mention that you read this through Voice Actors in the News.

~ Craig Crumpton
Publisher, Voice Actors in the News


Weird Al Yankovic Publishes Kids’ Book

02.03.2011

Image courtesy HarperCollinsChildrens.com

Pop music parody king and three-time Grammy winner Weird Al Yankovic published his first children’s book on February 1st, When I Grow Up. Publisher HarperCollins describes the book thusly:

Billy’s classmates may have never considered careers in snail training or sumo wrestling before, but by the time the exuberant eight-year-old is done cataloging his dream jobs, they just might share his belief in unlimited potential!

Virtuoso wordplay, irresistible rhythm, and laugh-out-loud humor abound in the first picture book by the one and only “Weird Al” Yankovic. This unbridled celebration of creativity and possibility invites readers of all ages to consider afresh what they want to be when they grow up.

The book has received critical acclaim from comedian/actor Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille, Robotomy, WordGirl), who called the book “wonderful” via Twitter.

And if you don’t care for Oswalt’s opinion, Seth Green (Robot Chicken, Family Guy) says via Twitter that Al’s book is “great…for story-time reading!”

Granted, Seth Green has no experience in parenting to make him an authority on kids’ books, and Patton Oswalt isn’t one most would look to for recommending good books for kids either.

So would it help if Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich gave this glowing review of the book?

Have a kid? Need a book to read with said kid? @alyankovic just wrote one, and it’s great!

And here’s Al narrating an excerpt of his book via YouTube:

(You can download the entire audiobook on iTunes for $1.99.)

Weird Al’s also doing a book signing tour during February 2011, and new dates keep being added to the schedule at WEIRDAL.COM. Current schedule (courtesy of Yank Blog):

Feb 12 – Los Angeles, CA – Barnes & Noble (at the Grove) 2:00pm
Feb 13 – Van Nuys, CA – Costco 1:00pm
Feb 15 – Irvine, CA – A Whale of a Tale 4:00pm
Feb 18 – Naperville, IL – Anderson’s Bookshop 7:00pm

And here are some recent interview links with Al discussing his book:

– Naperville Sun Times: Yankovic book tour to visit NCC

– CNN: What happened when Weird Al grew up

– IndyStyle.TV: Weird Al Yankovic (video interview)

– MyFoxBoston.com: Weird Al Yankovic Interview (video)

– CelebrityBabyScoop.com: Weird Al Yankovic: “Family is my first priority.”

– Stuff.Co.NZ: The Weird Al Yankovic Interview

– ThePageTurn.com: My Favorite Teacher, by Al Yankovic

– iTunes Podcast – English, Baby!: Grow Up – Weird Al Yankovic (Select episode #3.)

– HarperCollins: Q&A with Weird Al Yankovic (PDF file)

– FaceCulture video interview:

Additional source: World of Weird Al Yankovic

~ Craig “Voiceroy” Crumpton
Publisher, Voice Actors in the News
(and lifelong Weird Al fan/”close personal friend”)

Weird Al Yankovic and Craig "Voiceroy" Crumpton at the 2004 San Diego Comic-Con. (Demotivator caption by Steve Helling.)


Charitable Voice Actors

02.03.2011

Celebrity charity auction site ClothesOffOurBack.org has listed a few items that some voice actor fans may be interested in bidding on: two bottles of 2008 Merlot wine autographed by Hank Azaria (The Simpsons, Anastasia) and Mila Kunis (Family Guy, Robot Chicken), and a dress donated by CCH Pounder (Justice League, Batman Beyond).

Both auctions end March 1, 2011. Proceeds benefit various children’s charities.

In a bit of related news, Paul Rugg (voice actor and writer on Freakazoid and Animaniacs) has announced that he is going to be auctioning off animation cells and memorabilia from shows he has worked on to help raise funds for Angels Way Maternity Home in California. Paul has a video on his Froynlaven! blog showing many of the items he’ll be donating from his own collection. We’ll provide an update when his auction officially begins.

~ Craig Crumpton
Publisher, Voice Actors in the News

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The Clothes Off Our Back Foundation is a 501c3 organization that hosts charity auctions showcasing today’s hottest celebrity attire. Items are put up for bid to the public with proceeds going to benefit children’s charities. Clothes Off Our Back was founded by actors and philanthropists Jane Kaczmarek (“Malcolm In The Middle,” “Raising the Bar”) and Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”) whose efforts, along with their celebrity and designer friends have helped improve the lives of children across the globe. For more information and to bid, log onto www.clothesoffourback.org.


Moving Forward in 2011

01.06.2011

Although our Facebook and Twitter pages for the blog are updated almost daily with fresh content, I must apologize to our regulars for the lack of updates and new content here on WordPress.

I began a massive archive project last October in preparations for a major blog overhaul and some big news for the blog’s future which I’d hoped to announce in November 2010. A series of technical issues has caused continual delays in making that announcement, but we hope it will finally all be worked out shortly.

What I can say presently is that a high-traffic site and popular web community has offered to host Voice Actors in the News, but the transition is taking longer than anticipated.

We hope to publish an official announcement of the new host and upcoming expanded content and features in development before the end of January 2011.

In the meantime, please follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for daily news and content.

~ Craig Crumpton
Publisher: Voice Actors in the News


Happy Blogiversary to Us!

11.17.2010

November 16th, 2010 marks the 11th year since I first began publishing under the title Voice Actors in the News.

Over the course of a decade [you can read about the blog’s history here], it has progressed from a periodic newsletter focused on voice actors in animation to a blog covering entertainment news about voice actors in all forms of media.

It also used to be a newsletter that I self-published via The Voice Actors Appreciation Society, which even though the group had a few hundred members I didn’t even know if anyone was reading it since I rarely ever got any feedback on it. It was just something I did as a hobby.

After upgrading to a blog format in March 2009, I discovered that not only were others reading it, but within the few first months I was averaging around 100 readers per day.

And after seeing my readership triple in the first year, it became very clear to me that this was not a task I could continue to attempt on my own. I began reaching out to others in the fandom to assist as staff contributors and as of this posting we’re up to a staff of eight.

And just in this month of November, we have reached four more milestones with the blog:

– 150,000 blog views.
– 800 followers on Facebook.
– 500 followers on Twitter.
– And this wasn’t planned but it’s certainly appropriate that this marks my own 600th post on the blog since March 2009.

A very special thanks to my friends Brian and Harley at toonzone.net for being the first to give me a platform to publish my newsletter and for the continued years of friendship and support for my efforts.

Also special thanks to my longtime friends and fellow voice actor fans Kristy (Voicechasers.com), Doreen (Sites By Doreen), and Hillary (CultofCummings.com) — seeing their devotion to bring recognition to voice actors motivated me to spend the last 11 years writing about them.

And I attribute the incredible boost in blog traffic in 2010 to the addition of our staff contributors, whom I am most grateful that they have joined in this team effort: Doreen, Jeff, Mark, Kyle, Ashley, Sonia and Rosemary.

I’m very excited about some of the upcoming additions and expanded coverage for the blog, the first of which we will announce in the first quarter of 2011.

Thanks to all our readers out there — both the professional and fan community — for their support over the last 11 years. We will strive to continue and expand our efforts to serve the fandom and bring recognition to and appreciation for the work of voice actors.

Also thanks to my wife Joy being supportive of my non-profit hobby. She’s been very patient to wait for her chance to use the computer in little windows between the time I spend in service to the fandom online, and has tolerated my spending time blogging when I could have been doing other (and perhaps more important) things, and I love her for it.

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


Cast Announced for Funimation Dub of Summer Wars

10.20.2010

Funimation announced via their newsletter and blog that they have cast all the characters for their upcoming dub of Madhouse’s award-winning movie, Summer Wars. The cast includes Brina Palencia, J. Michael Tatum, and Maxey Whitehead, as well as over a dozen other main and supporting cast members. For full cast listing and story summary, check the official blog post at the link below:

http://blog.funimation.com/2010/09/summer-wars-has-people-talking/

– Mark Allen, Jr.
Contributor: Voice Actors in the News


Sesame Street’s Joey Mazzarino Creates an Anthem

10.19.2010

This article was originally published 10.19.2010 and has since been updated with new content. Please scroll down for the most recent additions.

ABC World News has a story on a Sesame Street video promoting self-esteem and self-acceptance which has gone viral since its October 4th release. The video features an unnamed “Anything Muppet” character singing “I Love My Hair,” which is being hailed as “an anthem for black women.”

Joey Mazzarino photo courtesy SesameStreet.org

Sesame Street head writer Joey Mazzarino (who also performs recurring characters Papa Bear, Murray Monster, Stinky the Stinkweed, and Elephant) says he was inspired by his adopted daughter Segi to write the song:

“She’s like my little muse,” Mazzarino said.

As Mazzarino and his wife watched their daughter grow, he noticed a change when she started playing with Barbies. Segi started saying negative things about herself and her own hair.

“She was going through this phase where she really wanted like the long, blonde hair. … She would look at Barbies and really want the hair.”

Mazzarino [who also helped to design the Muppet character] decided to help his daughter and other young girls appreciate their beauty.

“I just want kids to know their hair is beautiful,” Mazzarino said. “I just hope little kids, little girls see this and really feel positive and great about themselves.”

ABC’s video interview with Mazzarino also reveals that Kevin Clash — performer for Elmo as well as a writer and producer for the show — had a hand in crafting the performance:

Chauncey Johnson photo courtesy stagedoordesigns.com

The singing voice belongs to Broadway star Chantylla “Chauncey” Johnson (The Color Purple, The Lion King).

Mazzarino adds that he has been “amazed” and “overwhelmed” by the public response to the video. But the most important reaction came from his daughter, who was “jumping up and down and dancing” when she saw it. “She really loved it,” says Mazzarino, “And she loves her hair now.”

The full video is available on SesameStreet.org, or you can watch it below via Sesame Street’s official Youtube channel:

Update: 10.19.2010, 7:00 PMThe Huffington Post has a related interview with Mazzarino. Here’s an excerpt:

Q: Where did the concept of the “I Love My Hair” sketch come from?

Mazzarino: I have a five year old and she’s African American. My wife and I are both white. When she was four we were going through stuff with her hair where she wanted have hair that was straight. I tried to say to her, “Your hair’s great. It’s so beautiful and you can do so many things with it.” I thought it was a problem unique to us because we were white parents and she saw us everyday. Then Chris Rock’s movie Good Hair came out and I realized it’s not just about being raised by white parents. It’s an issue for a lot of little girls.

Q: Are your surprised by the reactions of this sketch on the internet?

Mazzarino: I got a call from a state senator’s office the other day and the woman I spoke to was one of his deputy’s secretaries. She said, “I’m an older African American woman and I started to cry when I saw it.” You know you write this stuff in a dark room by yourself. I just wrote it hoping my kid would be happy with who she was. The fact that it touched not only kids but adults makes me feel great.

Q: Do you think people will be surprised that you’re white and wrote this song?

Mazzarino: I hope not because I really want the song to be about the message and not me. If they do, I hope it doesn’t affect their feelings of the song because it really comes from a place of love for my daughter.

Update: 10.20.2010 — Via The Muppet Mindset, CNN.com has posted a video interview with Mazzarino.

Update: 10.22.2010New York Magazine’s Vulture blog has an interview with Mazzarino discussing the popularity of Sesame Street’s videos, his “I Love My Hair” song, and the controversy over Katy Perry’s duet with Elmo.

Elsewhere, Mazzarino discusses the song on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Mazzarino also tells The Associated Press (via USAToday.com), “I really want to sit down with the writers and figure out what we can do with [the ‘Anything Muppet’ character] and give her a name, and really expand her out.”

Additional sources: Muppet Wiki; This Black Sistas Page; Stylist.com; StageDoorDesigns.com

~ Craig Crumpton
Publisher, Voice Actors in the News