LOONEY TUNES EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Series Creators Spike Brandt & Tony Cervone
CBM's Ed Gross had the opportunity to sit down with Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone, creators of Cartoon Network's The Looney Tunes Show, which airs Tuesday nights at 8PM. In the first part of the conversation, they discuss the evolution of the concept of the series, which successfully gives a modern twist to the classic characters.
SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: My family and I happened to catch the first two episodes, and we were all laughing our asses off.
SPIKE BRANDT: I think, the original Looney Tunes cartoons weren't just made for children, they were made for everyone and that's pretty much the same approach we wanted to take, too. The whole goal was, we didn’t want to make a show that wasn't appropriate for kids, but there's stuff in there for adults and kids. The best of animation, the best of these characters, always had a broad appeal, so that was definitely something we wanted to do.
SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: Why do you think that the Looney Tunes characters have become such a hard sell to today’s kids when they used to be loved by all?
TONY CERVONE: You know, for a long time, they didn't have a lot of competition – there weren't that many cartoons that were being made that were actually funny, and then starting 15 years ago, there have been more funny shows on the air. I mean, you come to a Spongebob and you go, “Hey, that show is legitimately funny.” I think because there were no new episodes of Looney Tunes, it just got crowded out of the way.
SPIKE BRANDT: When it comes to kids, it might be generational, too. The classic cartoons were full of topical references from their day, and even their kind of characterizations don’t seem modern, the way everything else is so modern. Sometimes I think kids can tell the difference, and it's hard to get a kid to watch something that they feel wasn't created exactly for them. So our goal was to make a show that was modern, but it's not like we don't love and respect the classic cartoons – if anything we knew we couldn't do it again; we couldn't re-do that cartoon in that format. Those cartoons are the funniest, most brilliant cartoons ever made, and we have an order of 26 half hour episodes – that would be, like, 80 cartoons to make in a year if you were making animated shorts the way they were back then. It took them 10 years to make 80 cartoons, so it just wasn't going to happen. We did kind of experiment with a lot of different formats, and then settled into this weird sitcom plus bonus material we have now.
SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: What other formats did you look at?
TONY CERVONE: At one point it was more of a sketch comedy show with a bunch of shorter bits, sort of like where Bugs Bunny or Daffy might be playing another character, and the bits were funny, but we came to feel that there were no stakes for the characters. We wanted people to be invested in Bugs Bunny, not Bugs Bunny playing a game show contestant.
SPIKE BRANDT: There also was a version of the show where the characters were younger. We were, like, “Let's make younger versions of them, and let's try to gear it toward something that's immediately kid relatable,” but the truth is that no one wants to see Bugs Bunny get excited over his new bicycle. So that went to the wayside, too.
SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: How tough is it to put these characters in a more structured setting?
TONY CERVONE: That's what, to the people making the show, has been so exciting about it, because these are iconic characters that are extremely well established, that everyone knows and loves, but in this format we're seeing different sides of them. We're trying to get a little into the why of things. In the old cartoons, like in Ali Baba Bunny or something, Bugs and Daffy are traveling together, so they must be some kind of friends because they're together. Although they act like they hated each other. So we said, “OK, that cartoon hinted that there was some kind of friendship; that these guys spend time together, but why? Why would Bugs Bunny be a friend to a guy like Daffy Duck?” Those were all the questions we got excited about.
SUPERHERO TOONIVERSE: That’s actually a good question — why would Bugs Bunny be friends with Daffy?
TONY CERVONE: Bugs Bunny is kind of in control, he's kind of cool and in control, and I think Daffy is nothing but pure chaos, so Bugs is amused by that. He likes that and he likes Daffy's unpredictable nature. Whereas Bugs might be very predictable, Daffy isn't – and Daffy needs as much of an anchor as he can get; he needs some kind of stability, so I think that's where their friendship comes from.
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