Friday, June 15, 2007

Joe Dante on Looney Tunes

This interview with Joe Dante includes some thoughts on the Looney Tunes movie, his never-made "Termite Terrace" project, and the collapse of the Looney Tunes franchise:


Like you, I am a huge Warner Bros cartoons fan. But do you think they should just stop doing new stuff with the Bugs Bunny cast of characters?

Joe: Frankly, that would be okay with me. That era was over in 1960. The theatrical cartoons that they produced after 1960, which I remember having to suffer through at the movies, were just abominable. They weren’t funny, they were badly animated, they were sub-television level and almost everything they’ve done since is just a pale shadow of what the great cartoons were. I can tell you from experience that the people currently running Warner Bros have no interest or understanding of that period or those characters. I was making a movie for them with those characters [Looney Tunes: Back in Action] and they did not want to know about those characters. They didn’t want to know why Bugs Bunny shouldn’t do hip-hop. It was a pretty grim experience all around.

I did read about an old project of yours that never came to fruition about the animators at Warner Bros called Termite Terrace.

Joe: Yeah, they made Space Jam instead. Termite Terrace was a comedy but it was about Chuck Jones’ early years at Warner Bros in the 30’s. Back when the unit was actually part of the lot with movie stars and stuff. It was a hilarious story and it was very good except that Warner Bros said “Look, it’s an old story. It’s got period stuff in it. We don’t want that. We want to rebrand our characters and we want to do Space Jam.” So they went and did Space Jam and Termite Terrace is just sitting in a vault somewhere and it will never get made.

Make it for HBO, it’s owned by Warner Bros.

Joe: No, you’d be surprised. When it comes to those characters, they have people who are elected custodians. They have to sign off on every single use of the characters. They’re very protective of what they think of as a money making brand. But there’s a lesson there and the lesson is, you don’t develop a script based on characters you don’t own.


(The interview was conducted by Daniel Robert Epstein, whose tragic death this week deprived us of a very talented entertainment interviewer. The Comingsoon link has more links to tributes to DRE.)

3 comments:

Jorge Garrido said...

I don't forgive him for LT:BIA and Space Jam was still the better movie so I don't know what this lout is talking about. Maybe I'll do a blogpost about that...

That Termite Terrace project sounds intriguing, but they could add alot of drama by making it a mini-series and placing it from the late 20s to the 70s and include the Clampett/Jones controversy. Of course, they'd completely make up 75% of it...

Termite Terrace: Behind The Laughter

"I created Bugs Bunny!"

"No, I did!"

"I'll sue!"

***

"Rod? Rod? I'm making a phone call! No! Rod! Stop! AHHHH!"
CRASH!
"MUAHAHA, take that Artie!"

***

"You stole that director's credit from me!"

"No I didn't!"

"I'll sue!"

***

"Oh, no, Tedd' drunk again!"

"Shut up, ya got a big mouth!"
SMASH

***

"Give me 10% of your comic strip profits or you're fired!"

"Go to hell, Leon!"

"You're fired!"

"I'll show ALL of you! I'm going into features!"

***

"Go fuck yourself, Leon!"

"You're fired!"

"Fine, I'm going to Disney!"

***

"WHAT'S ALL THIS LAUGHTER GOT TO DO WITH MAKING CARTOONS!"

***

"OW, YOU HIT ME IN THE EYE!"

"Sorry, Fred!"

"Wait...I...I SEE things!"

***

Coming: To HBO, Fall 2008!

Mr. Semaj said...

I liked both Space Jam and Back in Action, but I do believe that BIA was set up to fail, just to justify the suits' reasoning for abusing the franchise.

Dave said...

"OW, YOU HIT ME IN THE EYE!"

"Sorry, Fred!"

"Wait...I...I SEE things!"

Gosh, now that has to be one of the more tasteless things I've read lately.