VAs on TV Alert: Big Time Rush

01.15.2010

The following article was originally published on January 15th and has since been updated as new show guests have been announced. Please scroll down for the most recent updates.

I’ll confess that sometimes I will neglect conveniently forget to post certain news items here.

That would explain what happened when a press release came across the wire with the following headline:

New Show with Cute Guys to Premiere on Nickelodeon!

Let’s face it. I’m almost 40 years old, don’t care for boy bands, and you won’t ever hear me use the words “cute” and “boy” in the same sentence unless I’m giving a compliment to a parent whose baby/toddler is actually a cute kid.

Tara Strong as Miss Collins on the set of 'Big Time Rush'

So, yeah…I kinda didn’t post that here when I first got the news mid-October 2009, even though my friend and fellow voice actor fan Doreen (VA webmistress extraordinaire and Voice Actors in the News staff contributor) gave a heads-up that the prolific (and ever-lovely) animation voice actor TaraStrong.com had been cast in a supporting role on “Big Time Rush” as Miss Collins (teacher of the “Palm Woods” school on the show).

Tara Strong as Miss Collins

So, anyway, Big Time Rush is a new Nickelodeon series about four teenage boys who are cast in a boy band, then move to L.A. and have various sitcomish adventures in Hollywood that will mostly involve flirting with other teenage girls (and being flirted with) while they try to make it as a “serious” performing group.

Oh, and of course there will be music-videoish segments rife with choreography and lip-syncing topop music.

After all, Big Time Rush is Nick’s obvious attempt to revive the “boy band” and thus sell lots and lots of CDs and song/album downloads to their tweenish female viewers.

In other words, it’s like Hanna Montana…but with boys.

Okay, so maybe I’m being a little harsh. After all, I’ve no doubts the show is entertaining to its intended audience. And with it being a bankable, marketable formula it’s already a hit — the TV movie/pilot (promoted as a “special preview”) introducing the series premiered November 28th, 2009 and pulled in an audience of nearly 3.5 million, so I’ll probably take some flak for my sarcasm by publishing it here.

But I also will watch this show — like it or not — and not for the “cute boys,” but because Tara is in it.

And if you require further motivation to watch the show (besides the “cute boys”), voice actor James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Johnny Test, Drawn Together) announced 1.14.2010 via Twitter:

I’ve got a “On-Camera” job tomorrow. Meaning I won’t be doing voice, I’ll be playing a part, “Live” my face and my voice. It’s for my good friend Scott Fellows (The creator of Johnny Test) new show called, Big Time Rush. I will have just a couple lines in the middle of the show but should be great fun to do it. And when it’s on I will let you all know.

Update 5.01.2010 — Taylor guest stars as “Regional Manager Taylor” in episode 8 “Big Time Demos” [<– click to watch online] which also features an appearance by VA Daran Norris (The Fairly Odd Parents) as groundskeeper/maintenance guy “Buddah Bob.”

Big Time Rush airs Fridays on Nick at 8:30 PM (EST) with repeats throughout the weekend. Visit Zap2it.com for air dates of other upcoming episodes. The show and “band” also have official pages on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube which you can find linked through their official site: BigTimeRushTV.com.

Update: 1.20.2010, 9:40 AM — I’ve gotten confirmation (thanks to Doreen and Paul’s comments below) that Tara Strong appears as Miss Collins in episode #2 “Big Time School of Rocque” [<– click to view online] which also includes yet another guest-star voice actor Dee Bradley Baker (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Phineas & Ferb) as teacher Mr. Smitty.

And you can also watch/download this episode on iTunes.

Tara first appears around the 2:28 mark and Dee at 3:25, and they appear other times throughout the episode as well.

And here’s a clip featuring just Baker’s first appearance:

http://au.video.yahoo.com/watch/6782614/17628464

I’ve discovered a few other animation/voice actor-related connections with this series.

James Arnold Taylor’s comment above mentions Scott Fellows (creator of CN’s Johnny Test), who is credited as the series’ creator and also serves as executive producer and writer. (Fellows has also written/produced episodes for The Fairly Odd Parents.)

Co-producer for Big Time Rush is Jed Springarn who has also produced and/or written episodes of Back at the Barnyand (for which he also was voice director), Jimmy Neutron, Johnny Bravo, Histeria!, Pinky and The Brain, Duckman, Freakazoid! and The Tick.

The director of the “School of Rocque” episode is Savage Steve Holland, who was the co-creator/producer/writer of Eek! The Cat (with Bill Kopp) in which he also voiced Elmo the Elk, Doc Tari in The Terrible Thunderlizards segments, and various incidental characters. Holland was also producer/writer/voice director for Sabrina: The Animated Series.

Update… actually, several updates between May and August, 2010 — The VA cameos on this show just keep on coming:

Phil LaMarr (Futurama, Justice League, Samurai Jack) guest stars as Hawk along with American Idol winner Jordan Sparks in episode 14 “Big Time Sparks” and again in the one-hour season 1 finale “Big Time Concert” which premieres Friday, August 20th at 8 PM (EST).

Daran Norris (The Fairly Odd Parents, The Replacements, The Spectacular Spider-Man) has an amusing recurring role as groundskeper/maintenance guy “Buddah Bob” in episodes #3 “Big Time Bad Boy” [<– click to view online], #7 “Big Time Break” [not available online] (which also includes Sealab 2021‘s Erik Estrada as Officer Garcia), #8 “Big Time Demos” [<– click to view online], #15 “Big Time Fever,” and #16 “Big Time Video.”

Note: “Big Time Bad Boy” also contains what I believe is a direct reference to EEK! The Cat’s catchphrase “Kum bah ya!” as said by a music label executive after getting kicked in the groin.

Carlos Alazraqui (Jimmy Neutron, Camp Lazlo, The Fairly Odd Parents) guest stars as “Photographer Marcos” in episodes #6 “Big Time Photo Shoot” [<– click to view online] and #16 “Big Time Video.”

Ahmed Best (voice of Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars movie prequels and Clone Wars series) guests as “Marketer” in the pilot episode “Big Time Audition” [full episode not available online, although he appears briefly in this music video] and again in episode 11 “Big Time Blogger” [<– click here to view online].

– Wikipedia.com credits Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs, Pinky & The Brain) as “C.A.L.” for episode 10, “Big Time Jobs,” but I have not yet seen this episode to confirm if he actually appears or just provided a voice for the character.

And Tara Strong reprised her role as Miss Collins in episode #13 “Big Time Dance” and will guest star a third time in season 2 (for which production started in July 2010). We are also pleased to offer an exclusive photo gallery of Tara’s pictures from the set of Big Time Rush from episode #13 and an upcoming episode for season 2:

Tara Strong and Stephen Kramer Glickman

Fabio and Tara Strong

Tara Strong and Logan Henderson

Tara Strong, Stephen Kramer Glickman, and Kendall Schmidt

Jessica Sacks-Davimos, Stephen Kramer Glickman, and Tara Strong

Carlos Pena Jr and Tara Strong

Tara Strong and Stephen Kramer Glickman

Tara Strong as Miss Collins

Tara Strong as Miss Collins

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

A very special thanks to Tara Strong for contributing all the set photos, and to Phil LaMarr for his episode info.

Additional Sources: Wikipedia.org, IMDb.com

Retraction — 5.04: I originally posted that Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead) and Amy Poehler had supporting roles BTR (playing a married couple appropriately named “Mike Judge, Sr” and “Nicole Judge”), which I got from a press release. I’m going to assume that this just didn’t work out as either has yet to appear on the series. And the press release is no longer available online.

Related post: 7.14.2009 — Tara Strong on Batman, Chowder, Drawn Together Movie


On the Fourth Day ’til Christmas…

12.21.2009

Next in the series of Holiday animated treats is “It’s A Very Merry Eek’s-Mas” from the Fox Kids series Eek! The Cat.

This episode originally aired December 11th, 1993 and is notable in that it was the only one of the series to air during prime time, and it’s one of my favorites from the entire Eek! series as well (which is less than notable). The plot involves Eek trying to reunite Sharky the Shark Dog with his family and help Santa save Christmas after being abandoned by his elves and reindeer (and left with a broken leg too).

It’s chock full o’cartoony fun goodness, and you really have to watch it more than once to catch all the visual gags, clever puns (like “Elmo the Brown-Nose Reindeer”), cultural references and Holiday-special spoofiness. Even the musical score includes some subtle gags.

It also features great comedic performances by the cast. They are included below so as not to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen this.

With that said, please enjoy all that is “It’s A Very Merry Eek’s-Mas”:

Last I heard, Disney owns the rights to this series, which means there’s a snowman’s chance in hades it will ever be released on DVD. But here’s hoping anyway.

As for the voice credits… unfortunately, there’s very little data available to identify the voices individually. IMDb and Wikipedia had practically nothing on this episode, and even on the most comprehensive Eek fan site the voice credits are limited to trivia bits.

And since the actual screen credits list only the cast names (and two of them are misspelled), I’ve made the effort to I.D. the voices by ear:

Bill Kopp as Eek, Skyhawk-1, addl. Reindeer and Elf voices
Tawny Kitaen as Annabelle
Savage Steve Holland as Elmo the Elk
Bobcat Goldthwait as Rudolph
The Barbi Twins as Themselves (aka, “The Greatest Minds in the World”)
E.G. Daily as Delores (Little Girl)
Gary Owens as Clive Buttburn (TV Reporter)
Brad Garrett as Big Brother Roy, “Hat Rack” Reindeer, “Bird Dog” Fighter Pilot
Anita Dangler as Mrs. Claus
– and William Shatner as Santa, Larry (Talk Show Host)

…with additional Reindeer and Elf voices by Charlie Adler, John Kassir, and Cam Clarke.

I’ve also found two sources crediting Tim Curry as the voice of the narrator (IMDb, TV.com), but he’s not mentioned in the actual screen credits. Furthermore, the Boris Karloff-esque “Grinch” imitation in this episode doesn’t sound much like Curry to my ear. I’ll check with Bill Kopp to verify this, and maybe I can coax him into sharing some behind-the-scenes details on this episode while I’m at it. (I’ll provide an update on his reply.)

Previous post: 12.20.2009 — ‘Prep and Landing’ Featured Cartoon

Related post: 7.07.2009 — Bill Kopp, Brad Garrett Producing New Adult Animated Series


Bill Kopp, Brad Garrett Producing New Adult Animated Series

07.07.2009

The Hollywood Reporter reports:

Brad Garrett is getting animated.

Garrett, star of the Fox comedy series ” ‘Til Death,” is developing “Dumb Bunny and Jackass,” a half-hour animated comedy series for Sony Pictures TV, the studio behind “Death.”

The R-rated project, which is targeted for cable, is based on characters created by Bill Kopp (“Eek! The Cat,” “Toonsylvania”) and follows the lives of the most popular cartoon duo in history after their fall from stardom.

Garrett is attached to voice one of the two leads as well as executive produce the show through his banner, Mope Prods. Also exec producing are Glenn Robbins and Doug Wald; Kopp is on board as co-executive producer.

Update: 8.14.2009 — A Voice Actors in the News EXCLUSIVE! Bill Kopp has graciously provided the “calling card” that he and Brad Garrett are using to pitch Dumb Bunny and Jackass to networks.

'Calling card' image courtesy of Bill Kopp.

'Calling card' image courtesy of Bill Kopp.

Bill says that he and Brad are pitching the show to three networks in the coming week, including FX and Comedy Central.

Bill adds that he is doing some VO for the upcoming season of the FOX sitcom ‘Til Death (starring Brad Garrett), and that he recently wrapped production on 26 half-hour episodes of the American Greetings-sponsored Twisted Whiskers — a fully-produced TV show based on the popular greeting card line of amusingly exaggerated, pop-eyed pets. Unfortunately, American Greetings has been unsuccessful to date in securing a US distributor for this series.

For a glimpse at what the show might have been, there are a series of nine computer-animated shorts available on TwistedWhiskers.com. And be sure to watch “Novel Kitty,” with Bill providing the voice of Flouncie.

Update: 7.09.2009 — Got a reply from Bill Kopp with a bit more detail on the show:

So far it looks like Brad is the Jackass and I will be voicing the Bunny. There is still a bit of [development] to do so we haven’t yet figured out the rest of the cast. We are aiming for Comedy Central.

Bill has offered an opportunity to do an exclusive interview with him in the near future once more details have materialized.

I’ve been following Bill’s career since the early 90’s and I’m absolutely ecstatic over this news. Bill’s one of those great talents who doesn’t get enough recognition for his contributions to the animation industry as an artist, animator, director, producer, writer, and voice actor. Besides creating/co-creating/producing several great animated comedies like Eek! The Cat/Eek!stravaganza, Snookums and Meat: Funny Cartoon Show, Toonsylvania, and Mad Jack the Pirate, he’s also voiced many characters on the same shows.

I posted an (incomplete) chronology of his work back in 2001 for The Voice Actor Appreciation Group (and I’m happy to say I have since gotten in touch with Bill since that article was posted).

More recently, Bill has worked for Warner Bros as director, writer, and voice actor on the direct-to-DVD releases of Tom and Jerry: The Fast and The Furry (2005) and Tom and Jerry Blast Off to Mars! (2005 — and the DVD includes behind-the-scenes footage featuring Bill), as well as the 2004 Looney Tunes short “Hare and Loathing in Las Vegas” which was intended to be released theatrically with Looney Tunes: Back in Action (but has since still not been released in the US that I know of).

One of my favorite moments from Eek! was the episode “Eek’s Sneek Peek” where viewers were taken on a satirical tour of the production on the show, including cameos by Bill and co-creator Savage Steve Holland, as seen here via YouTube (fast-forward to the 2-minute mark):

A hearty congratulations to Bill on getting Dumb Bunny and Jackass in development. Can’t wait to see it!