Adult Swim Voice Actor Performs in Atlanta Live Show

05.28.2010

Voice actor Scott Hilley (Adult Swim’s Squidbillies, Aqua Teen Hunger Force) is starring in and directing “The Golden Age Radio Show” at Expressions Theatre and Film in Atlanta, GA on Saturday, May 29th at 7:30 PM.

This family-friendly event — a live radio theatre-style production — will feature performances from episodes of two classic “old time radio” shows and showcase students from Scott’s voice acting workshops (which he teaches regularly in the Atlanta area).

And those of you who’ve been reading this blog for any length of time will know that outside of the “About” page above that I normally do not mention any projects I’m involved with. However, I’m both proud and honored to say that Scott cast me in this show and I’ll be performing a couple Frank Sinatra standards as part of the show’s live music as well.

Tickets are only $5 for this show. Seating is limited and tickets are not available for pre-order. They can only be purchased in person at Expressions Theatre the night of the event.

More details on this show are available via the show’s official Facebook page.

Note: This event is neither affiliated nor associated with Cartoon Network or Adult Swim.

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CBS Stingy with ‘Jack Benny Program’ Masters

01.19.2010

The character Jack Benny portrayed on his classic TV program and long-running radio show was a lovable miser — an infamous cheapskate whose extreme frugality was a running gag on the series.

Who would ever have imagined that a half-century later CBS would reflect Benny’s TV persona by refusing to release masters of his classic program for the very same reason: they’re too danged cheap.

And that’s precisely what The New York Post is reporting:

CBS has shelved about 25 recently unearthed episodes of “The Jack Benny [Program]” — because it doesn’t want the hassle of paying for licensing, etc.

The International Jack Benny Fan Club, with the blessing of the Benny estate, approached CBS and offered to pay for the digital transfer and preservation of the rare episodes.

But, according to fan club president Laura Leff, CBS refused to let the episodes out of their vault — with a CBS exec citing unspecified “issues” thought to be potential musical copyrights, etc. and the costs associated with these elements.

Leff says she believes the roughly 25 “Benny Show” tapes are in the public domain, since they’re over 28 years old and weren’t copyrighted. “We just want [CBS] to realize they shouldn’t be locking away our cultural heritage,” Leff said.


The Jack Benny Program
aired between 1950-65, and the popular weekly radio show that it spun off from was on the air for nearly 20 years prior to that. Both the radio show and TV program featured a number of guest stars from radio and film, including actors who’ve voiced characters in animation such as Frank Nelson, Bea Benaderet, Barry Gordon, Alan Soule, legendary ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and the late cartoon voice acting legend Mel Blanc.

I’ve been a member of the International Jack Benny Fan Club for more than a decade, and I fully support the IJBFC and the Benny estate in their efforts to procure and preserve the heritage of a television classic like The Jack Benny Program.

For those on Facebook, you can show your support by joining the group “Tell Les Moonves to preserve The Jack Benny Program Masters”.

This story has garnered additional support through other media sources:

– BoingBoing.net: CBS uncovers rare Jack Benny treasures, puts them back and tosses away the key
– TheModerateVoice.com: Killing Comedic Heritage? CBS Reportedly Seals Some Classic Jack Benny Show Comedy Masters

Further details and updates are available via JackBenny.org.


Press Release: Andy Serkis Stars in ‘Screwtape’ Audio Drama

10.09.2009

For Immediate Release

The Screwtape Letters Stars Lord of the Rings’ Andy Serkis
Focus on the Family Radio Theatre® Introduces
First-Ever Full-Cast Dramatization of the C.S. Lewis Classic

Colorado Springs, CO – The Devil is back in time for Halloween in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, an audio production from Peabody-award-winning Focus on the Family Radio Theatre®. The full-cast dramatization of the diabolical classic debuted worldwide October 5th, 2009.

Hosted by C.S. Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham, and starring Andy Serkis (Gollum, Lord of the Rings) as the voice of Screwtape, The Screwtape Letters was recorded in London by world-class actors with an original score and motion picture quality sound design, and includes a “making of” DVD that features footage from C.S. Lewis’ home, church and other frequented locations. Also included are a bonus CD of ten original songs and a collector’s booklet.

The Screwtape story centers around correspondence shared between Screwtape, a senior demon, and Wormwood, his apprentice, as Screwtape mentors Wormwood in the skills necessary to entrap, dominate and torture humans. Most of the 31 letters lead into dramatic scenes set either in Hell or World War II-era London. In writing this masterpiece, Lewis re-imagined Hell as a gruesome bureaucracy with demons laboring in a vast enterprise. Avoiding their own painful torment, as well as a desire for control, is what drives demons to persecute their “patients.”

Anticipation for the release of Screwtape has been building among audio enthusiasts as well as Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis fans. An entire website (www.screwtape.com) was built to support the production’s debut, providing downloadable ringtones, avatars and wallpaper. Guests can follow conversations between Screwtape and Wormwood on Twitter, and utilize available social media to join in the discussion.

“Bringing The Screwtape Letters to the world of audio drama has been a career dream,” said Screwtape director Paul McCusker. “To work with this caliber of cast and crew on such a beloved classic is an unparalleled experience. And the themes are timeless. The struggles, fears and failures addressed in this work still plague humanity today. In our culture, we’re hesitant to talk about evil. Here, in the character of Screwtape, evil speaks for itself.”

The Screwtape Letters was produced by Focus on the Family Radio Theatre® and is distributed by Tyndale, with full authorization from the C.S. Lewis estate.

Previous report: 8.20.2009 — Andy Serkis Starring in ‘Screwtape Letters’ Radio Drama


Andy Serkis Starring in ‘Screwtape Letters’ Radio Drama

08.20.2009

This is one of those “under the radar” news items that’s been overlooked by the media, and I’ve actually neglected to mention it here when I first heard about it a few months ago. But being a huge fan of radio theater I thought I’d help create some advance buzz for the radio dramatization of C.S. Lewis’ classic novel The Screwtape Letters being produced by Focus on the Family Radio Theatre (winner of a Peabody Award and multiple Audie Awards).

FOTF Radio Theatre has been broadcasting quality radio dramas since they first premiered Adventures in Odyssey in 1987, which is still on the air more than 20 years later (and I’ve actually been listening to the show since the very first broadcast). The voice cast for Adventures in Odyssey includes a number of voice actors whose names will be familiar to animation fans:

– The late Hal Smith: DuckTales, Scooby Doo
Will Ryan: Elmo Aardvark, Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin
Katey Leigh: Darkwing Duck, Gummi Bears
Townsend Coleman: The Tick, TMNT
Andre Stojka: voice of Owl in many Winnie The Pooh cartoons
– The late Walker Edmiston: Transformers, voice of Ernie the Keebler Elf
Alan Young: voice of Scrooge McDuck
Jess Harnell: Animaniacs, Drawn Together
Corey Burton: Transformers, Superman: The Animated Series

FOTF announced in May 2008 that they had obtained the rights to adapt and record a production of The Screwtape Letters for FOTF Radio Theatre. And in May 2009, news broke that Andy Serkis (voice and motion capture actor for Gollum in live-action The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) had been cast to voice the lead role of the villainous Screwtape.

According to ChrisKou.com, FOTF Radio Theatre is planning a “huge launch campaign for Screwtape Letters beginning September 1.” The production will also feature the voices of Geoffrey Palmer (Tomorrow Never Dies), Laura Michelle Kelly (Sweeney Todd), Eileen Page (The Secret Garden), and “other world-class actors” (according to RadioTheatre.org). The release date is scheduled for October 15th, 2009.

Here’s a description of the production, via RadioTheatre.org:

From the award-winning audio drama team that brought you Radio Theatre’s Amazing Grace and The Chronicles of Narnia. In his enduringly popular masterpiece The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis re-imagines Hell as a gruesome bureaucracy. With spiritual insight and wry wit, Lewis suggests that demons, laboring in a vast enterprise, have horribly recognizable human attributes: competition, greed, and totalitarian punishment. Avoiding their own painful torture as well as a desire to dominate are what drive demons to torment their “patients.” The style and unique dark humor of The Screwtape Letters are retained in this full-cast dramatization, as is the original setting of London during World War II. The story is carried by the senior demon Screwtape (Andy Serkis) as he shares correspondence to his apprentice demon Wormwood. All 31 letters lead into dramatic scenes, set in either Hell or the real world with humans—aka “the patient,” as the demons say—along with his circle of friends and family.

In April, Adventures in Odyssey producer Dave Arnold offered a “quick teaser” of The Screwtape Letters via video podcast on WhitsEndBlog.org. [Dave’s teaser is towards the end of the clip. And immediately following the teaser is a preview of Adventures in Odyssey Live CD (with bonus DVD) from a live performance celebrating the 20th Anniversary of AIO in 2007, which featured cast members Katey Leigh, Will Ryan, Dave Madden, Jess Harnell and others. Bonus content on this release includes bloopers, 300-picture slideshow, and Q&A with the voice cast.]

And Tyndale.com now has a 7-minute behind-the-scenes featurette on the production, which includes interviews with director Paul McCusker, Andy Serkis, Douglas Gresham (C.S. Lewis’ step-son), casting director Philip Glassborow, Geoffrey Palmer (voice of C.S. Lewis), and other members of the voice cast.

[Additional sources: DaveDeAndrea.com, NarniaFans.com, Wikipedia.org].


Dave Madden’s Memoir Debuts for Amazon Kindle

04.03.2009
Image courtesy reubenkincaidbook.com

Image courtesy reubenkincaidbook.com

Dave Madden is best known for his role as Reuben Kincaid, manager of the popular 1970’s TV band, The Partridge Family (the 4th and final season for which was just released on DVD in February 2009). He was also a regular on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and the sitcom Alice, and guest-starred on Bewitched, Starsky and Hutch, The Love Boat, Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, Married With Children, and Boy Meets World.

Dave was also the voice of Ram in Charlotte’s Web (1973), voiced Arnold’s dad in the 1985 CBS Storybreak TV special Arnold of the Ducks, and has performed in other animated projects as well. But most notably for radio drama enthusiasts, he has provided the voice of Bernard Walton for nearly two decades on the radio show Adventures in Odyssey which has been on the air since 1987.

Dave’s autobiography, Reuben on Wry, was originally published in December 2007, and is now available in both Amazon Kindle and paperback formats.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

In Reuben on Wry, actor Dave Madden says to America that “Contrary to popular belief – I’m not dead, yet!”

Madden, known by many for his wry observations and droll delivery, tells of his behind-the-scenes experiences, writing of his fondly-remembered character Reuben Kincaid as well as detailing his role as surrogate dad to a troubled young Danny Bonaduce, and how his TV family became his own. Madden also outlines his success as a stand-up comic, leading to the first – and only – TV season of Camp Runamuck, and he discusses landing as a regular in the series Laugh-In, recently featured in the television special Make ‘em Laugh: The Funny Business of America. From the accident of his birth and his success in Hollywood to his encounters with a Hollywood roster of stars, including Jodie Foster, Richard Pryor, Shirley Jones and Frank Sinatra, Madden chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of his life.

“If anyone should write a book about his life in and out of showbiz, it’s Dave Madden. I’ve always thought he was one of the funniest and most clever guys around. I enjoyed reading Reuben On Wry very much,” says longtime friend, Jonathan Winters.

More details on the book are available on the official site: ReubenKincaidBook.com.