Theater Review “Ghost: The Musical” Bob Carr Performing Arts Center – Orlando, FL

“Ghost The Musical”
Bob Carr Performing Arts Center
Orlando, FL
May 13-18, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers is probably one of my all-time favorite long songs. I remember watching the film “Ghost” as a kid (probably too young to even get the film) and I fell in love with that song. The film is such a classic and whew knew that it could ever be turned into a Broadway play. Leave it up to the amazing, Bruce Joel Rubin (original writer of “Ghost”), who gave the words to “Ghost: The Musical” and the very fresh pop/rock score delivered by Grammy winner Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) and Glenn Ballard (writer of Josh Groban’s “Believe” and Alanis Morisstette’s “You Outta Know”). The show is such an experience, that is the only way I am able describe it. It is exhilarating and also at the same time exhausting. They not only capture the essence of the original film but also improve it to make this one of the best plays that I have ever seen on the stage.

We all know the story but just in case you don’t, here is official premise: “‘Ghost: The Musical’ follows Sam and Molly, a young couple whose connection takes a shocking turn after Sam’s untimely death. Trapped between two worlds, Sam refuses to leave Molly when he learns she is in grave danger. Desperate to communicate with her, he turns to a storefront psychic who helps him protect Molly and avenge his death”. What I love the most about this play was that my wife hadn’t seen the film in years and yet she enjoyed it just as much as myself who had just watched the film again to refresh earlier this week.

From the moment the play starts, you are wowed with amazing visuals projected at the stage. You feel like you are being swept through New York City. This video presentation is used throughout the show along with amazing light, smoke and strobe light effects. There is one particular scene that really blew me away, which takes place on a subway car that left me speechless. I have seen many different plays at Bob Carr Performing Arts Center and none of them have ever been like this. I felt like I was literally sitting on Broadway watching this performance. It was so solid and well done that I haven’t stopped thinking about it since and have already looked up tickets for another showing.

Since this show is a musical, I was very interested how they were going to tell the story of “Ghost” through music. Right from the “Overture”, I fell in love with the songs (and even purchased the soundtrack). I loved the spin that they put on “Unchained Melody” and of course it is also cued through the entire show. I cannot get the track “Here Right Now” out of my head. I have had it on repeat. “More” is a tale about the life in NYC really hits home with my having lived and worked there for many years. “Are You a Believer” was a highlight of the show and literally had me rolling in my chair.

Steven Grant Douglas gave life (or after life) to the role of Sam Wheat. He was very strong and easily the best acting performance for the show. Katie Postotnik plays Molly Jenson and this girl can really sing. She nails the song “With You”. I could see her on the stages of Broadway since she really has the chops, so she takes the best singing in the show. Last but certainly not least everyone’s favorite Oda Mae Brown (who won Whoopi Goldberg an Oscar for from the film) is played by Carla R. Stewart. Let me tell you this woman had the audience in tears, laughing that is. She was the perfect comedic relief for this film and was hit for hit with each of the jokes. Put these amazing performance together with a wonderful production and you have a guaranteed hit with “Ghost: The Musical”, do not this miss on the stage!

“Ghost: The Musical” will be at Bob Carr Performing Arts Center from May 13th-18th. If you miss it in Orlando, be sure to check it out on the rest of its US National Tour below:
WORCESTER
HANOVER THEATRE
JUNE 5 – JUNE 8

HARTFORD
BUSHNELL
JUNE 10 – JUNE 15

MINNEAPOLIS
ORPHEUM THEATRE
JUNE 18 – JUNE 23

LOS ANGELES
HOLLYWOOD PANTAGES
JUNE 27 – JULY 13

COSTA MESA
SEGERSTROM CENTER
JULY 29 – AUGUST 10

LAS VEGAS
THE SMITH CENTER
AUGUST 12 – AUGUST 17

DVD Review “The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Series”

Actors: Bob Newhart, Suzanne Pleshette, Marcia Wallace
Directors: Peter Bonerz
Number of discs: 19
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Shout! Factory
DVD Release Date: May 27, 2014
Run Time: 3180 minutes

Series: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Dr. Hartley will see you now… Shout! Factory is bringing the The Complete Series of “The Bob Newhart Show” home to you in a spectacular 19-DVD box set. This iconic TV show is still relevant and extremely funny today. Bob Newhart has always been a riot and even still continues to co-starring recently in CBS’ hit sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory”. Originally airing on CBS from 1972 to 1978, this show is no question of the best television shows of all-time. I feel that if a show is able to still be this funny after all these years that it deserves to be considered a legend. I look at TV today in disgust as our programming is garage compared to real shows like “The Bob Newhart Show”. This is a must for an true classic TV fan out there.

Official Premise: This sitcom classic stars the incomparable Bob Newhart as Dr. Robert Hartley, a Chicago psychologist who finds himself surrounded by some unusual and neurotic characters on the job, as well as at home! Hartley faces an uphill battle to not lose patience with his patients, but with the support of his quick-witted wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), you can count on him to conduct a healthy session of laugh therapy in all 142 episodes of The Bob Newhart Show. An outstanding supporting cast is on call to back up Newhart and Pleshette, including Bill Daily (I Dream of Jeannie), Peter Bonerz (Man on the Moon), Jack Riley (Rugrats, Spaceballs), and Marcia Wallace (The Simpsons).

The box set includes new interviews with Bob Newhart, Jack Riley, Bill Daily, Peter Bonerz, and Michael Zinberg called “Group Therapy” (2014). There is “The Bob Newhart Show 19th Anniversary (1991)” special included, which is a one-hour clip show which finds the show’s characters in the present day. There are audio commentaries tracks with Bob Newhart, Marcia Wallace, David Davis, Peter Bonerz, Fred Willard, Jim Burrows, Suzanne Pleshette, Tom Poston and Jack Riley. There is a very funny Gag Reel included. Lastly there is a 40-page collectible booklet wrapping up this fine release.

Theatre Review “Jersey Boys” Bob Carr Performing Arts Center – Orlando, FL

“Jersey Boys”
Bob Carr Performing Arts Center
Orlando, FL
April 15 – 27, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“Jersey Boys” premiered on Broadway back in 2005 and won a Tony for Best Musical the following year. I have seen many Broadway shows growing up and living in New York but I never did see “Jersey Boys”. Luckily living in Orlando, FL now I am still able to see Broadway quality shows at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center. “Jersey Boys” is the latest show making its limited engagement during its national tour at this theatre.

I have always been a huge Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons fan and have seen them many times live over the years. I thought it was time to catch this show to see what all the fuss was about, especially being a huge fan of the music already. Well I didn’t just enjoy the play I absolutely loved it. I found myself moving my feet along with music and singing under my breath (sometimes louder)…and I wasn’t the only one.

Now obviously, I can’t compare the performances to the Broadway cast since I have never saw it but if I could I am sure that this National tour cast would really give them a very strong run. I was extremely impressed with Hayden Milanes in the role of Frankie Valli, that with an “I” not a “Y” because everyone knows “Y” is a bullshit letter. The guy has a voice of angel (sound familiar?) and really nailed this role. Nicholas Dromard was perfect as Tommy DeVito and really had the audience by the balls like woman type number 1 (or was it number 2?)

Quinn Vanantwerp was funny, charming and very charismatic. I really enjoyed his performance of Bob Gaudio. I am sure Bob himself would be impressed. Last but definitely not least Adam Zelakso playing Nick Massi was the quite one but delivered a surprising end performance and I am glad he didn’t start his own band. Adam will also be appearing in Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of this play, though in a different role, which comes in this June in theaters (and I will be first in line for this movie). I also never knew that THE Joe Pecsi was involved with crew, you learn something new everyday.

Let’s get back to the music now. Oh the music…so many amazing tracks sung during this show. If you are a Frank Valli and the Four Seasons fan how can you not be screaming along from your seat to hits like “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like A Man”, “Sherry”, “Earth Angel”, “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, “My Eyes Adored You”, “Rag Doll” and “Bye Bye Baby”, which like always hits me very hard. Such beautiful music. Such wonderful talent. This is a show that is not to be missed.

“Jersey Boys” will continue at Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre through April 27th, 2014 (click here for tickets) and see below for future dates from the National tour.

Orlando, FL
April 15 – 27, 2014

Knoxville, TN
April 29 – May 4, 2014

Cleveland, OH
May 6 – 18, 2014

Sioux Falls, SD
May 21 – 25, 2014

El Paso, TX
May 28 – June 1, 2014

Fort Worth, TX
June 3 – 15, 2014

Tucson, AZ
June 17 – 22, 2014

Costa Mesa, CA
June 24 – July 13, 2014

San Jose, CA
July 15 – 20, 2014

Tempe, AZ
July 22 – August 3, 2014

Los Angeles, CA
October 1 – 19, 2014

San Diego, CA
October 21 – 26, 2014

Sacramento, CA
November 5 – 22, 2014

Reno, NV
November 25 – 30, 2014

Bob Odenkirk talks about new pilot “Let’s Do This!”

Bob Odenkirk is known best for his role in “Mr. Show” and “Breaking Bad”. Bob has recently released his new pilot on Adult Swim called “Let’s Do This!”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Bob about his new pilot and it’s chances to have the show turn into a series.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you originally come up with the idea for “Let’s Do This!”?
Bob Odenkirk: I played Robert Evans on “Mr. Show” and also on “The Bill Maher Show”. I loved his air of confidence and swagger. I find that guy funny and I like playing him. I think there is more life to a guy like him. This guy is a hybrid of him and some other people I have played. The other inspiration I had was from a movie I love called “American Movie”. I love people making movies especially those small companies with not much money but with a dream where people are sort of giving their time freely. It’s easy to discount or write those people off but the fact is everybody in Hollywood is on a continuum with those people. It’s not like there are legitimate people in Hollywood and then illegitimate people. We are all illegitimate. We are all just making it up. Even the people with lots of money and big companies behind them are doing that. Look at that film “John Carter”. That film was a massive bust! There was a very respected director driving that thing. He is a really smart guy who was working really hard. I am sure probably having years to work on it and think about it he thought it was going to be great. I am sure he had to tell lots of people, lots of times that this film was going to be great. Who is he when you compare him to Cal Gold? He is the same! In this case his dream is just as looney.

MG: Can you tell us about the road to getting it aired on Adult Swim?
BO: We made the show and while doing so it evolved. During the course of editing we found that the real fun lay in the crew that I put together. This included Fortune Feimster and John Ennis. The real fun was back stage shooting the movie. That part of the show was kind of improvised and put into a later edit. I don’t know how Adult Swim feels about it as a show? Obviously it didn’t go to series. Well at least not yet. We sat and thought about it for awhile and I just wanted them to show it to people and give everyone a chance to watch it. What happened was we showed the short at a benefit and there were kids in the audience. We showed just the Harry Potter film and not the story around it and, they loved it! Watching it with the audience I thought people would really like it. I called Mike at Adult Swim and asked if he would run it and he said yes.  What happens next? I don’t know. Mike Lazzo remains the coolest executive in Hollywood. I am not just saying that to kiss his ass. Most executives wouldn’t show the show if it didn’t go. They would not want people to see it because if they liked it then they would look bad for not ordering it to series already. There would be this embarrassment factor. Mike said to just let people see it. I don’t know what will happen next.

MG: Is there anything fans can do to help?
BO: I don’t know. Maybe just continue to like the show and talk about it. They could write a comment about wanting more to be made. I don’t know how often they read comments like that. I think that positive feedback helps and will probably make the executives at Adult Swim see that there is maybe life in the show. The other part is my job. I want to do the character again as I really like him. I started tweeting as Cal Gold. Honestly I really think the next part is for me to approach Mike Lazzo and Adult Swim with some ideas of what we could do next if he wanted to. I want to approach him with something more interesting than just a series. I would to give him some really specific episodes of what we would like to prank on and what movies are coming out in the next year. I want to give him a really targeted idea of what we want to do then allow him to make a decision from there.

MG: Do you currently have any other scripts written?
BO: We do. We have a lot of stuff we have written. This is all part of a process that I am discovering. This show was basically set aside as we thought that we had done it and it didn’t make it on the air. Now we are starting to see that there might be other things we could do with the show. I don’t know if we would go back to the scripts that we had so much than to think of new ways to make the most of it. The thing I keep getting comments on is the scene where we are shooting in a parking garage and Paul Rust has to lose the car and, he is kissing my ass. People really liked that part. I think I would look to create episodes that would allow us to create and make that crazy stuff happen. Watch the show, give it a lot of hits and if you like it say so. That’s all anyone can really do. It’s up to me to pitch a journey for it.

MG: Have you ever considered doing the show as a web series?
BO: Yes! I absolutely would. I have “Breaking Bad” starting up so there is that aspect to things as well. I don’t have maybe as much time as other people to do shows. I have to have something that is within my abilities to do. That will be part of me re-thinking things now that it has been shown. I am thinking a show an episode would have Cal talking to the camera and we get out with the crew shooting. Then we would have a trailer for something. I really want to have fun with movies that are set to come out.

Click here to view Bob’s latest pilot “Let’s Do This!” on AdultSwim.com
To follow Bob’s character Cal Gold on Twitter go to @CalGoldberg

Bob Odenkirk’s “Let’s Do This” Debuts On AdultSwim.com!

Bob Odenkirk’s Let’s Do This! Premieres Exclusively On AdultSwim.com

In Let’s Do This! veteran comedy writer, director, producer, and actor Bob Odenkirk gives a back door glimpse into the not-so-glamorous world of low budget filmmaking. The exclusive promo and solo episode launched today on AdultSwim.com.

Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show, Breaking Bad) plays Cal Mackenzie-Goldberg, two-bit movie mogul and head of Cal-Gold Pictures as he leads a collection of crazy, fame-hungry strivers chasing Hollywood dreams.  In this exclusive piece, Cal is faced with the challenge of creating a wizard movie for a demanding African warlord and making sure not to get sued for copyright infringement in the process. It’s a hilarious behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a struggling studio in North Hollywood as Cal-Gold produces Harry Podder and the Lost Lebaron.

“I’ve always loved the hilarious Hollywood strivers reaching for their dreams, looking to triumph against all odds out here in the Hollywood ‘Dream Factory’,” said Odenkirk. “In Mr. Show, Larry Sanders and other cult hit shows I’ve played many a funny sleazeball, I’ve impersonated the great Robert Evans, and it’s all been building to this. Cal MacKenzie-Goldberg and his come-from-behind underdog gang of sweet losers somehow find a way to succeed, even if they end up getting paid in yams.”

Let’s Do This! was created and written by Bob Odenkirk, Jim Freeman and Brian Jarvis, produced by Odenkirk Provissiero Entertainment and Williams Street, features Lauren Lapkus, Jerry Minor, and Brian Posehn, and guest stars Natasha Legerro, Paul Rust, John Ennis, Jill Bartlett, Jim Freeman, Brian Jarvis, Andre Hyland, Bruce Green, and Fortune Feimster.

Check out our interview with Bob Odenkirk

Adult Swim (AdultSwim.com), launched in 2001, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s network offering original and acquired animated and live-action series for young adults.  Airing nightly from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. (ET, PT), Adult Swim shares channel space with Cartoon Network, home to the best in original, acquired and classic entertainment for youth and families, and is seen in 99.4 million U.S. homes.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

Interview with Bob Odenkirk

Bob Odenkirk is known best for his skit series “Mr. Show with Bob and David” with David Cross. He has worked on Adult Swim shows like “Tom Goes to the Mayor” and “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” He has also has recurring roles on TV shows like “How I Met Your Mother” and “Breaking Bad”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Bob about his TV work and also his new upcoming pilot for Adult Swim.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about working on the “Breaking Bad”?
Bob Odenkirk: I love being a part of that show. It was something that came out of the blue and just fell on my head. It is different from all my other work as it is a drama. The show has a bunch of great actors and writers who work extremely hard. I don’t know if my character will continue to be a part of the show as I don’t really know what happens. Every year I will go down and hang out with the writers just to talk about writing. I guess while I am down there I will see if my characters name is up on any of the walls. I’m guessing they wouldn’t have me come over for lunch if my character wasn’t going to be around anymore. (Laughs) I really want to be a part of the show as I love playing the character. I have such respect for the challenge of making the show that I am for whatever they want to do with my character.

MG: What do you like most about playing the sleazy Saul Goodman?
BO: I want to play the sleazy guy. I love reading the script and asking myself what Saul is really trying to get done. He only is telling people what they want to hear or what will get them to do whatever it is he wants. It’s always fun to think about what he is really after.

MG: How does it compare to working on a show like “How I Met Your Mother”?
BO: The energy is different. There is a more relaxed feeling on a show such as “How I Met Your Mother”. “Breaking Bad” consists of a great group of people but in order to get the show done within the time constraints you have to work really hard. You have to show up knowing your lines and be ready to go. If that didn’t happen the show would just never get done. It’s a pretty serious place. It’s a challenge that is fun.

MG: Tell us about your recent stand up tour with the Birthday Boys, called “Seven Man Sweater”?
BO: The Birthday Boys are a sketch group here in Los Angeles that are really funny. We did a show earlier this year called “The Heroic Man”. We are currently working on coming up with a television show as well. I also did a show for Adult Swim called “Let’s Do This” that will air on their website next week. I want people to go to the site, check out the video and if they like it tell Adult Swim they want it made into a series.

MG: How did you get involved working with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim?
BO: Tim and Eric are amazing, funny guys. They amaze me and are real artists. I think I am good at helping them with the tools that make a good show. They have a vision and a voice that is very distinct and unique. It’s an inspiration to work with guys like Tim and Eric. I envy them.

MG: Are you still writing for “Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule” season 2?
BO: I don’t. I think I helped with the first season by making some observations. I think I also talked with them about the point of view. That’s pretty much what I do with Tim and Eric as well. The episodes are pretty well completed and I just give them some notes.

MG: Are you going to be directing anymore films?
BO: Yes. When I finished “Brother Salomon” I felt like I really needed to step back from teachers and think about what I am doing there, why I am doing it and what will my next film be. I think I have a lot of fans that look at the 3 films I have done and they don’t really see my voice. It’s certainly not as potent as it was on “Mr. Show” and that’s understandable. I think the next movie I am going to make is going to be more of what you would want from me. I have a couple scripts out there and am actually meeting on one tomorrow. I also am shooting a short for “Funny or Die” next month which will be a lot of fun.

MG: Tell us about your role for the upcoming film “Movie 43”
BO: I am not in that but, I did direct a short for that film. Peter Farrelly is producing that and the film is made up of a variety of short comedy films. I gave them some stuff to look at and they picked one thing out of what I gave them. That film is pretty much out of my hands.

MG: What else do you have planned for 2012?
BO: David Cross and I are performing at the Amnesty International Ball with Cold Play. It’s nothing really big. (Laughs) David and I are also going to Vancouver where we are doing a show as well. I also will be recording my first Mr. Blow podcast which will be on Ear Wolf. Mr. Blow will be a podcast featuring people who wrote, were in or saw the live version of “Mr. Show”. The cast will not be about “Mr. Show” but about life now.

Adult Swim Will be Airing Bob Odenkirk’s Pilot “Let’s Do This” This Month

*UPDATE 3-8-12* Bob Odenkirk’s “Let’s Do This” Debuts On AdultSwim.com!

Adult Swim, which is the more mature programming on Cartoon Network, will be airing “Let’s Do This” this month online, which is a new live-action comedy pilot created and produced by Bob Odenkirk, Brian Jarvis and Jim Freeman.. The show resolves about Cal McKenzie Goldberg (Odenkirk) who is running a movie studio, Cal-Gold Pictures, in a strip mall in North Hollywood. In the pilot, Cal is hired to make a wizard movie from an Uganda drug lord. You can only imagine how that turns out.

Bob Odenkirk is known best for his skit series “Mr. Show with Bob and David” with David Cross. He has worked on Adult Swim shows like “Tom Goes to the Mayor” and “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” He has also has recurring roles on TV shows like “How I Met Your Mother” and “Breaking Bad”.

We will be posting a link on Media Mikes to let you know when you can check out this show. If you like it please let Adult Swim know that you would like to see this pilot turn into a series. I have seen the pilot and it is very funny and definitely has a lot of potential.

Photos credit: Robb Rosenfeld – http://www.robbrosenfeld.com

Interview with Bob Pantella

Bob Pantella is the drummer for Cycle of Pain, Monster Magnet, Riot God and Atomic Bitchwax. His band Riot God is set to release their second album at the end of January titled “Invisible Empire”. Media Mikes had a chance to catch up with Bob recently to discuss the new album and how he manages to juggle playing in four different bands.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about Riot God’s upcoming album titled “Invisible Empire”?
Bob Pantella: The album actually came out in Europe at the end of November and will be available here in the states starting January 31st. This is the bands second record and I am really excited for it to be released. The album is a little bit heavier than the first album and I think it came out really good. We are very happy with it. At this point I am actually really looking forward to doing another one. (Laughs)

AL: How do you think it compares to the first album?
BP: The heavier approach was definitely on purpose. During the recording of the first record we were sort of scatter brained and didn’t know how it was going to come out. We have been around for a few years now and have worked on our sound. Things this time came together relatively easy.

AL: Did you try to incorporate any new beats or styles into you’re playing on the album?
BP:  We all have our own styles which is something you don’t realize until you listen back to things. We decide is something cool or if it sucks and then put the pieces together. There is thought behind what we do but it is more related to editing ourselves. We spent a lot more time on this album and we were a lot more focused.

AL: Are there any tracks that stand out as favorites?
BP: Picking a track for me is pretty difficult as I am so close to the work. I wish I could hear the songs with fresh ears but that’s impossible. Each time I listen to the album I like something else. At this point I like the song “Tomorrows Today”. At first I liked “Firebrand” but then I kind of got sick of that one. I have listened to all of these songs around 500 times.

AL: Do you have any projects in the works with your other bands?
BP: Cycle of Pain has a few songs in the works. Between JD and me playing all the time we are away a lot so that album is going to take a little bit of time. Monster Magnet has plans to do a new record in the spring.

AL: Do you find it hard splitting your time between 4 bands?
BP: If I didn’t like it I would quit. Playing takes up about 95% of my time. I haven’t been out of the studio in 4 days as we are recording some Riot God material for a special tour release. Monster Magnet is recording a track for an upcoming tribute album and Atomic Bitchwax is recording and writing for an upcoming spring release.

AL: Do you have any other plans for 2012?
BP: Things are pretty well booked up but there are still things being filled in. I am going to be in Germany with Riot God playing the Wacken Festival and then I will be in Europe again with Monster Magnet sometime in June. Things are just nonstop.

Interview with Bob Bergen

Bob Bergen has been the voice of Porky Pig from “Looney Tunes”  for over 20 years.  He also has voiced numerous other character like Marvin the Martian and Tweety Bird.  He also done voice work for films like “Gremlins”, “Army of Darkness” and has worked with Disney and Pixar quite a bit.  In the world of anime he voices “Lupin” from “Lupin the Third” and characters from “Akira”.  Bob is currently voicing Porky Pig in the 2011 reboot of “The Looney Tunes Show”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Bob about his his voice work and his long career with Porky Pig.

Mike Gencarelli: What was it like to follow Mel Blanc and step into the role of Porky Pig?
Bob Bergen: It was my goal since I was five years old to voice that one particular character. It’s funny, the day I got my first job….it was March 8, 1990…I remember the date because it was my birthday…I had just purchased a condo and my mom was house sitting waiting for a couch to be delivered because I was at an audition. And she happened to take the call from my agent…after a dozen or so auditions I had booked the job. And to be able to share that with my mom….I mean she’d put up with me since I was five doing Porky Pig everywhere I could…it was very surreal. I don’t think anybody gets into this business to play one character. I mean that’s stupid…the odds are against you. But this is what I wanted and I didn’t know NOT to want it. That night we went out to dinner and I had a huge wave of depression because I felt, “my God, I’m in my early 20s and I just booked my life-long goal…now what do I do?” It’s a roller coaster of emotions. And it’s also a huge responsibility. There will never be another Mel Blanc. I don’t think that anyone who does these characters today sounds like Mel. I do my best to keep the integrity of the original character. It’s a combination of a layer of emotions. But it’s also probably the most fun that anybody should be able to have.

MG: Which leads to my next question: why Porky Pig? What about that character stood out to you?
BB: That’s probably the most common question I’m asked. Why not Mickey Mouse? Why not Daffy Duck? The simple answer is because I could do him (Porky Pig). I found the formula in the writing. There’s a formula to Porky’s stutter in the writing that I discovered when I was about five. Even though my voice hadn’t changed and I didn’t sound like the character as a kid I’d figured out the heart and the personality of the character when I was a kid. And it was funny. While he’s stammering on one word he’s also fumbling for the next word. So it was the pure humor of the character that I was attracted to.

MG: You not only voiced Porky in the film “Space Jam,” but Marvin the Martian and Tweety Bird as well. Was it difficult for you voicing different characters?
BB: Not really…not really. A feature film takes several years to do while a half hour cartoon is a four hour session. So you’re in the studio one day doing four or five pages, then you’re back two months later doing four or five more pages. Then six months later you do twenty pages. It’s actually not that difficult of a job to do. The voice sessions for “Space Jam” were directed by Ivan Reitman, who produced the film. Jerry Rees and Steven Laiva, who were the animation producers and directors, were very good about saying, “here’s our script…what can you guys bring to it?” Fortunately, in the twenty one years doing these characters, I’ve never had a situation where they weren’t open to our creativity and ideas. I always follow the written word first but then it’s “what can you bring different to the scene?” For instance, there might be some lines where I’ll say, “I don’t think Porky would stutter like that…can I try it a different way,” and they’re always very open to it.

MG: You’ve been voicing Porky for the past two decades. Now that there is a new “Looney Tunes” show how do you feel the character has changed in those twenty years?
BB: It’s interesting…people will always ask me what the hardest thing is to do Porky Pig. Originally it was…everybody can say the classic phrases…”what’s up doc?,” “that’s all folks,” “I saw a puddycat”…give somebody a script with a brand new story with words that Mel Blanc never said in that situation…that’s when it becomes difficult. I can remember doing things early on and thinking, “wow…Porky has never discussed rap music before…Porky had never been in the 1990s discussing whatever was happening…the pop culture of the day. You have to be able to take the heart of the classic character and put it in contemporary situations. The “Looney Tunes” show does just that. I’ll be honest…when I got the job I was really concerned if they were going to uphold the integrity of these characters. And I’ve been so pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the writing is…how these producers get these characters…get the integrity of these characters…and are able to put them in situations that blend so well the classic and contemporary.

MG: How did you get involved in doing some of the darker comedies like “Gremlins” and “Army of Darkness?”
BB: Honest to God, I just auditioned. “Gremlins” was one of my first auditions. I remember being told “I can’t show you anything from this movie but what do you think it would sound like if a gremlin exploded in a microwave?” And I asked, “what’s a gremlin.” He said “remember the little laughing creature that hung out with Jabba the Hutt…something like that, but meaner.” So I did the sound of what I thought a gremlin would sound like if it exploded in a microwave. Then I did what I thought was the sound of gremlins having a drop of water dropped on them and creating more gremlins. I didn’t know what he was talking about, I just did funny sounds. And it was easily nine months later that I got the phone call telling me I got the job. For “Army of Darkness,” and I understand they’re doing a remake of “Evil Dead”…if anybody reading this is connected to that film I want to do it…I happened to work for the casting director of the film so I didn’t have to audition. He asked me if I could do the voice of a man-eating book and I said, “OK.” It’s really a collaborative thing. They throw their ideas at you and you give them your interpretation of their ideas.

MG: You’ve also done a lot of work for Disney and Pixar. How did those jobs come about?
BB: I think my first Disney feature was “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Disney and Pixar are probably some of the most loyal producers I’ve ever worked with. Once you prove yourself and they know that you’re reliable they’ll call you back over and over again. A lot of the jobs are ones I didn’t audition for. They would just call and ask, “can you work on this new Disney film next week” and I say, “okey-dokey!” They’re very particular on who they hire. I’m what they call a “utility player” on animated features. I’m not a celebrity so I’m not going to play Buzz Lightyear. I’m not going to play the lead in any major Disney feature. But I do play multiple characters in the films. They know that if they get me up there I can play five or six different characters in one scene. And once you’ve proved yourself that way, that you’re reliable, they call you over and over again. I didn’t do the first “The Santa Clause” movie. Comet the reindeer was in it. But for the second film they wanted to give him personality. So I actually had to audition for that. And fortunately they brought him back for the third film. A lot of it is just getting that audition and letting them know who you are. You have to be in the business. You have to have a solid agent who gets the calls from the powers that be. But then you still have to audition. I had to audition for the “Looney Tunes” show. Just because I’ve played a character for twenty years I don’t own it. So when a new producer comes in they may say, “hey, I know YOU’RE right for the part but let’s see who else is out there.” But an actors’ job is to audition. I mean for the “Looney Tunes” show I did the pilot. And then they held auditions. But I knew the reason. It was a brand new series and they wanted to see who else was out there. An actor has to check his ego at the door. You go in there and just have fun. I went in with the philosophy of “hey, if someone else is better they deserve this job.” I just go in and have fun with it. In the twenty one years I’ve done Porky I’ve had to re-audition four times. I had to audition for “Space Jam.” I had to audition for “Looney Tunes: Back in Action.” And I had to audition for the “Looney Tunes” show. That’s showbiz. That’s what we do. Actors audition and actors work.

MG: You’re also the man behind the voice of Luke Skywalker in everything from video games to “Robot Chicken.” How did you come to do that voice?
BB: Well it’s interesting because when I got the first audition I turned it down because I told my agent that I couldn’t “do” Mark Hamill. Mark Hamill is so freaking brilliant. He is one of the best voice actors in the business. Mark Hamill IS Luke Skywalker. But my agent said that the producers still wanted to see me. And I told them that I don’t DO Mark Hamill. And they said, “don’t DO Mark Hamill. Do Luke Skywalker.” They showed me clips from the various film and said, “here’s pre-Jedi Luke and post-Jedi Luke…his personality has completely changed.” My vocal tone was very close to Mark Hamill but they wanted me to get the character down. And once I went from trying to do an impression to an actor doing the role I was much more comfortable. I had several auditions before I booked my first job. But once I was able to…not mimic Mark but to get the character down…I became very comfortable with it. And the producers have been very good to me. But even though I did the games for many years I still had to audition for the first “Star Wars: Robot Chicken.” We’ve now done three of those specials. They are fantastic! The writing these guys do over at Seth Green’s office…they’re so good. It’s a pleasure to work on those specials.

MG: Let’s switch gears to anime. “Lupin III” (Lupin the Third) is one of my favorite shows. What can you tell us about voicing him?
BB: He’s one of my favorite characters. Such a layered, rich character. He’s a pompous, slob nerd and he just thinks he’s God’s gift to everything. What a great, rich character to play…in any genre of animation that I’ve done. He’s a blast. I would love to do more. It’s one of the characters that, like Porky, is one of my all time favorites.

MG: You did two voices in “Akira.” What can you tell us about that?
BB: It was my first anime job ever. I didn’t ever know what anime’ was. As a kid I loved “Speed Racer” but I didn’t know that was anime. I just thought it was a cool cartoon. I got the film and I realized that anime’ is very different from American animation because when they do “Looney Tunes” they record the voices first. They animate to your timing. For anime’ you have to match the screen. You have to watch the film, read the script and perform, staying in character, all at the same time. It’s a huge challenge. And the anime’ actors that work consistently are some of the most brilliant voice actors in the world. Normally you do a movie and move on. But Roger Ebert listed “Akira” as one of the best movies ever made. Not animated film…one of the best FILMS ever made. I probably get more fan mail from “Akira”…from “Spirited Away”…from “Lupin” then I get from anything I’ve done with Looney Tunes. It’s overwhelming and very much appreciated.

MG: What other projects do you have coming up?
BB: Fingers are crossed that we get a season two for the “Looney Tunes” show. I’m a gypsy. I’m an actor. I did a game yesterday. I did a pick up session for “Looney Tunes” last week. I just did a commercial. That’s my life. I never know what my next job is going to be. Some days the phone doesn’t ring and some days I wonder how I can fit it all in. That’s what we do. I’m writing a book on voice over agents right now. I’m up for an Emmy so I’m hoping to collect a trophy in a couple months. I’m amazed to be nominated. I’m having a fun ride!