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
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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


Stan Freberg Musical Sells Out

08.29.2009

Oregon’s Willamette Week Online (WWeek.com) reports that Portland’s September 5th live performance of Stan Freberg‘s 1959 musical “Oregon! Oregon!” has sold out, as well as the Sunday, August 30th show in Jacksonville, OR.

Image courtesy Oregon150.org

Image courtesy Oregon150.org

According to WWeek.com, you can tune into a broadcast of Live Wire! Radio‘s 8.22 live recording (which “previewed three numbers from the show”) today (Saturday, 8.29) at 7 PM (PST) on Oregon Public Radio… which is only useful to those living within the broadcast area, unfortunately. OPB.org does appear to offer a streaming live broadcast, but (and this is very frustrating to this Freberg fan) clicking the “on demand” link on the site to listen live yields a “502 Bad Gateway” page (whatever that is).

I am contacting Live Wire Radio to see if perhaps they might be offering this same broadcast in the future by way of their podcast.

Now, for a little history lesson on this lesser-known Freberg gem, courtesy of Shellac.org and the musical’s official page on Oregon150.org:

In 1958 – to celebrate the Oregon’s centennial (100th birthday) – the Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Company commissioned the Grammy Award-winning radio personality Stan Freberg to write a 21-minute-long musical comedy about the beaver state. What resulted was a hilarious tale of two explorers in 1859 named Harry and David, their encounter with a witch, and the subsequent birth of a state which must go back into the bottle after 100 years … that is, if the citizens of 1959 can’t break the spell.

It was premiered on radio during the Oregon Centennial in 1959, and was distributed to radio stations as a twelve inch vinyl LP album. Side One featured two versions of an introduction by Freberg, (billed as “Stan Freberg, Matinee Idol”), with the second version including a few words from William W. Wessinger, the president of Blitz Weinhard Co. This was followed by the show itself, which runs for 21 minutes. Side Two includes separate individual versions of each of the featured songs, including several variations on the title piece, “Oregon! Oregon!”

The plot, (attributed to “M. Goose”) loosely follows the tale of Rumplstitskin, who is personified in this tale as a Witch, who “bottles” states. When the state of Oregon is un-corked, the Witch tells the two explorers, (named “Harry & David” in an obvious commercial nod to the Medford, Oregon mail order gift fruit outfit), that it must go back in the bottle after a hundred years.

When the Centennial rolls around, the witch offers a reprieve if someone can come up with her real name. A California Fruit Inspector happens to over hear her, and saves the day. The Witch, (aka “Miss Columbia River Salmon 1822”), stomps her feet so hard, she falls through the dock at the Centennial party and plunges into Coos Bay.

Click here to listen to the original 1959 recording of the “Oregon! Oregon!” theme, courtesy of Oregon150.org.

Here’s a paraphrased transcription of Stan’s 1959 introduction to the musical:

“I suggested that it might be a nice idea if they threw a big birthday party with ice cream and cake and paper hats and noise makers. Well I might as well have saved my breath because as it turned out, the only noise maker they were interested in was me. They thought the matter through and decided to give Oregon a birthday gift that all Oregonians could enjoy, something much more durable than ice cream and cake. They wanted a musical comedy, complete with a story, songs and music. It started to be quite a short musical comedy, say five minutes in length. But it grew longer and longer and longer until it had three acts and lasted 21 minutes.”

For complete details on the original musical recording and to listen to the album in its entirety, please visit Shellac Radio — shellac.org.

Other suggested reading/listening:

OPB.org: Oregon! Oregon! Musical Updated for 2009
NPR.org: Oregon’s 150 Calls For A New Act
The Most Official Unofficial Stan Freberg Website
The Unofficial Stan Freberg HERE Archives

In a bit of related news, Mark Evanier stated 8.18 on NewsfromME.com that he spent the day “in a recording studio directing the first three shows of the second season of The Garfield Show“:

We had a fine cast today. We have our regulars — Frank Welker (as the cat), Gregg Berger, Wally Wingert and Jason Marsden. We have our semi-regulars — Audrey Wasilewski, Julie Payne, Laura Summer and David L. Lander. And today, we had as guest stars, Stan Freberg, Laraine Newman and Jack Riley.

Whenever anyone asks me the secret of directing cartoon voices, I tell ’em it’s easy. Hire a cast like that, tell ’em which microphones to use and get out of their way. It’s hard work but enormous fun. Having grown up listening to Stan Freberg records (and having purloined much of my sense of humor from the man), I still find it a little unbelievable to be working with him.

And a Freberg-related news item I mentioned here may have gotten buried in my 7.22 VAs on DVD feature article:

Beany and Cecil (Matty’s Sunday Funnies): The Special Edition Volume 2 releases September 8th and includes 11 cartoons and bonus content, including “Time for Beany” (which features Stan Freberg and Daws Butler) and a feature entitled “Bob Clampett and Friends.” It features the voices of Jim MacGeorge, Irv Shoemaker, Lord Buckley, Scatman Crothers, and Paul Frees.

And Mark Evanier offered additional details on the above title in an 8.19 blog post:

A few years ago, a superb DVD came out that mainly covered the animated Beany & Cecil but it was crammed full of special features about Bob’s life, including materials from his vast files. The man saved everything and his son Robert Junior, in assembling the DVD, dipped into those archives and offered up some gems. I can’t think of another animation-related DVD I’ve ever bought that gave you more for your money. Alas…maddeningly…it was not a big success. It did not spawn a whole mess of other volumes and it went out of print and became hard to find.

So now we have two happy announcements. One is that Volume Two has been assembled anyway and it’ll be out next month. The other joyous news is that the Clampett Studio, run by his family, has stumbled across a few boxes of Volume One in the warehouse. So if you didn’t get one, you can get one now when you order this new collection. It has my highest recommendation and I can’t imagine that the new volume won’t, as well.

Go here. Click. Enjoy. You will.

It’s also worth noting that Stan celebrated his 83rd birthday on August 7th. Happy belated birthday, Stan!


Newsarama Interviews Gregg Berger

08.08.2009

Gregg Berger (Transformers, Duckman, Garfield & Friends) talks with Newsarama.com’s Steve Fritz about Transformers, Comic-Con, and his upcoming voice acting roles. Here’s what Gregg had to say about Shout Factory’s new Transformers box set:

“I think the Shout! Factory collection will exceed all expectations,” says Berger. “They put so much care and devotion into the presentation. I’m sure the fans are aware of the main content, but they aren’t aware of all the ‘treats’ they’ve put in here. The packaging is coffee-table presentation level on its own.

His particular pride and joys for both sets are the extra content where he sits down and just chews the fat with many of the surviving voice artists.

“The idea was to have people from both shows, including me, just sit around and remember working on them,” Berger says. “There was some apprehension at the taping session about what we would talk about. Then Brian Ward from Shout! Factory just decided to roll tape and see what happened. The next thing we knew, it was an hour later and we had a full tape.”

“Actually, that’s pretty much the way we always behaved. Just about everyone there have had friendships with each other from long, long ago. In fact, I’m still great friends with all of those people. All we did was pass time, the way that we used to and the way we still do. I think the voice community tends to have the best jokes out in the lobby. It’s also a very well read community because when you get right down to it, we’re readers. It’s what we do, being readers and interpreters.”

Continue reading: Me Gregg Berger! Me Voice of Grimlock!

Gregg’s new “autobiographic audio CD” Think Globally, Act Vocally recently debuted — and sold out — at the recent San Diego Comic-Con. Gregg says via his website — GreggBerger.com — for fans to “watch for future purchasing information to appear on [his] site.” And he adds, “Wheels are also in motion to make it available on iTunes and CD Baby very soon!”

And just for kicks, here’s Gregg at SDCC 2006 sharing a story about working with Mel Blanc:


Frank Welker Not Attending Comic-Con

07.21.2009

I have a correction via Doreen, webmaster of the official Frank Welker Homepage — FrankWelker.net — that Frank will unfortunately not be attending the Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins panel scheduled for Sunday, July 26th at 2:30 PM. This news was originally published on the San Diego Comic-Con’s own programming schedule, but Frank tells Doreen that it was “misinformation.”

I know this will be a great disappointment to those attending the con, but on the upside there will be plenty of other cartoon voice actors in attendance during this weekend at Comic-Con, and on Wednesday I plan to post a rundown of scheduled events featuring voice actors.

On a related note, although Frank won’t be attending Comic-Con, his autograph will be there, according to a report from Video Business Magazine:

Shout! Factory will kick-off selling two DVD compilation sets at Comic-Con, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero—A Complete Series Collector’s Set ($155) and The Transformers: 25th Anniversary Matrix of Leadership Edition Collector’s Set ($150) [previously reported here]. Consumers who buy either title at the show will receive an exclusive lithograph signed by G.I. Joe artist Tom Feister or a lithograph signed by Transformers voice Frank Welker, respectively.

Update: 7.22.2009TVShowsOnDVD.com has a press release with a photo of the Transformers lithograph featuring Megatron, along with news that Gregg Berger (voice of Grimlock) will be signing autographs at Shout! Factory’s booth (#3749 in the main hall) on Saturday and Sunday at Comic-Con.

And regarding Frank’s website, Doreen has updated the “Ask Frank” page on FrankWelker.net.

And I’ve covered a number of other Frank-related news items in recent months, which you can review by clicking here.


‘Transformers’ G1 DVD Complete Box Set Features Voice Cast Reunion

07.13.2009

TFormers.com has reviewed Shout! Factory’s “Matrix of Leadership” DVD box set containing the entire 98-episode run of the original Transformers animated series, and includes images of the artwork and product as well as a detailed list of the content and bonus materials.

And in regards to how the audio/video quality compares with the original releases from Kids Rhino, TFormers says, “If you were hoping for any better video quality, don’t do it. The quality of the video is exact to the Rhino releases. However, the sound gaffes that Rhino left in have been pulled out of this run. No more random booms! Also, the audio has been updated to stereo sound from the original source, so goodbye mono!”

Further details about the audio/video for this release were discussed in a Q&A with DVD producer Brian Ward on ShoutFactory.com back in April which addressed all the major complaints fans had about the original Rhino releases, and the efforts Shout! was making to correct them:

– On the original masters:

Hasbro provided us with the same masters Rhino used for their releases. HOWEVER… There have been changes made. I, personally, went to New York, where the original broadcast one-inch masters are housed, and found each of the problem areas, in regards to animation.

The one-inch masters have not physically held up well over the years. In some cases, they’re nearly unwatchable. Therefore, instead of simply transferring and using masters of the one-inches, we found every instance of faulty animation demonstrated on a YouTube video or mentioned in a rundown we could find online (and even found some of our own) and corrected them, replacing the faulty digibeta master material with the best-quality one-inch source material.

Finally, we color corrected everything to match–as best we could–the shots before and after. Surprisingly, unless you know specifically what you’re looking for, you won’t even notice many of the instances of slightly softer picture. It looks REALLY good.

– On the promos/commercials included in the bonus features:

Hasbro never kept high-quality masters. They kept VHS screeners of their commercials, strictly for reference later. So when you say, “why couldn’t they get the original copies from Hasbro?”, we actually did. Still, there are some pretty cool commercials here and I’m looking forward to having them included.

– On the audio:

We chucked the Rhino audio. You will no longer hear additional sound effects or music, not previously heard in the broadcasts. We went back to the original source mono and created a nice stereo track to even out the audio. It sounds really nice.

– On why you won’t hear any of the voice actors providing episode commentary:

As much fun as it would be to listen to folks talk about the episodes, one thing I’ve learned over the years–and definitely over the last couple months–is that the voice actors know the least about the series.

It’s not a slight on them. It’s simply a fact that most of these guys (and girls) were voicing multiple characters on multiple shows at the same time and were so busy that they never even really got a chance to sit down and watch the shows themselves until much later.

And of course what will be of great interest to readers here is one of the exclusive extras for this box set: a documentary (filmed and edited in hi-def) featuring a TF G1 voice cast reunion, entitled “Headmasters: Voicing The Robots In Disguise.”

According to Shout! Factory’s official site for the release — TransformersCollectorsSet.com, the reunion includes video of a roundtable discussion between key members of the original voice cast: Jack Angel (Ramjet), Michael Bell (Prowl), Gregg Berger (Grimlock), Aurthur Burghardt (Devastator), Corey Burton (Spike Witwicky, Shockwave), Richard Gautier (Rodimus Prime), Neil Ross (Slag), and Frank Welker (Megatron, Soundwave, and several others).

And while it’s still disappointing that they couldn’t have involved other core cast members, such as Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime, Ironhide), Susan Blu (Arcee), and Dan Gilvezan (Bumbleee), or series voice director Wally Burr, Shout Factory is still worthy of props for bringing this great group of talented individuals together as a bonus feature for the fans. At a time when other studios and distributors are pushing Blu-Ray over DVD and cutting back on bonus content (or simply not bothering to produce any at all), Shout Factory’s efforts are commendable and I am appreciative of them for it.

TFormers doesn’t give the exact runtime for this feature, except to say that you should “allow 20-30 minutes for each documentary or interview,” and adds that it cast reunion is their “favorite extra” on the release.

The official site states that this release (which began shipping pre-orders today, July 13th) will be “sold while supplies last,” so if they happen to sell out, your alternative is to wait for the individual releases to reach stores. Season 1 released in June, but the next two releases to follow aren’t expected until September.

Rhino’s original releases, for all their faults and flaws, were still in high demand and difficult to come by due to limited stock and later when they all when out of print after Rhino lost the distribution rights. So I would highly encourage my fellow Transformers fans to order this magnificent box set while it is currently available.

(And to my wife, if you’re reading this, this is what I want for my birthday this Friday.)

Related post: 7.07.2009 — Optimus Prime Guests on Letterman.


Upcoming Transformers VA Appearances

04.06.2009

Just about anything Transformers-related I post here tends to get a lot of views. So it’s a bonus that I’ve been a fan for 25 years and don’t mind covering TF-related news any opportunity I get.

I’ll be updating this post throughout 2009 as new guests are announced.

Neil Kaplan, voice of Optimus Prime on Robots in Disguise, will be appearing April 17-19 at Xanadu Las Vegas and May 29-30 at Adventurecon in Phoenix, AZ. Visit Neil’s “I, of The Wolf” site for future upcoming appearances.

Dan Gilvezan, who voiced Bumblebee and other supporting characters in the original “G1” Transformers animated series, will be appearing April 25-26 at the TFCon 2009 in Toronto, Canada.

Richard Epcar, voice of Armorhide on Robots in Disguise, will be appearing May 22-24 at JACON 2009 in Orlando, FL.

Gregg Berger, who provided the voices of Grimlock and other characters on the G1 TF series (as well as voice credits in many other animated series: Duckman, Men in Black: The Series, G.I. Joe, Garfield & Friends) will be appearing May 22-24 at JACON 2009 in Orlando, FL. And just a few days later, he’ll be a guest May 28-31 at Botcon 2009 in Pasedena, CA. (Other TF-related voice actors are likely to be announced for Botcon soon.)

Additionally, Gregg will be appearing August 15-16 at Auto Assembly 2009 in Birmingham, England.

David Kaye, who has now voiced Megatron in five Transformers TV series as well as the voice of Optimus Prime on Transformers Animated, will be appearing May 30th *only* Botcon 2009 in Pasedena, CA, and July 24-26 at MechaCon 2009 in Lafayette, LA.

Ian James Corlett, voice of Cheetor on Beast Wars and Beast Machines, will be appearing August 15-16 at Auto Assembly 2009 in Birmingham, England.

Previous news: 3.24.2009 — Frank Welker to Voice ‘The Fallen’?.