Cartoon Network’s THE LOONEY TUNES SHOW Crew Interview

looney tunes show

Last week I was lucky enough to sit down with some of the people behind Warner Brothers’ brand new show, THE LOONEY TUNES SHOW, premiering on the Cartoon Network tonight, May 3 at 8pm. A whole new version of the classic series of short films, this show is for kids of all ages.

Here’s what the people over at Warner Brothers had to say about the show:

The “Looney Tunes Show” is a half-hour comedy series and yes I just referred to this as a comedy series (as opposed to just a cartoon!). After an extended break Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck make their return to TV and, as often is the set up for great comedy, star as best friends who could not be more different from one another. Their characteristics will be on full display as they interact with each other as well as other favorites in the Looney Tunes universe. This is a new set-up for the Looney Tunes but this is also the same characters you know and love. The “DNA” of the characters – look, behavior and comic sensibilities – remains intact, and the fresh characters designs coupled with a vivid, contemporary animation style enhance the wit and charm that made these characters so beloved in the first place.

Myself and just a small handful of other reporters sat down with producers Tony Cervone and Spike Brandt, character designer Jessica Borutski (who was responsible for giving Bugs and the other LT characters a fresh new look), plus head writers Hugh Davidson and Rachel Ramras.

First up, we spoke with Tony, Spike and Jessica.

How does the new show compare to the original Looney Tunes shorts and how did it come about?

Tony and Spike said that they all worked hard on making it new and modern but without changing it too much. They were all very aware that everything had to work as a Looney Tunes show and told us that it went through a lot of changes until they hit on the best way to explore the characters. At one point the series was even a sketch comedy show.

Jessica said she was pulled into the project at the very beginning when Tony asked if she wanted a shot at redesigning the Looney Tunes. She of course jumped at the chance and said she always wanted to keep the look classic, but also update it a little.

How will the Road Runner and Merrie Melodies shorts will fit into the series?

When asked about the new shorts, Tony and Spike said that they will fit into show kind of like extras on a DVD. They remarked that it was a way to fit other characters (like the Road Runner, the Coyote and Marvin the Martian) into the show. They are pantomimes that will act as a contrast to the verbal sitcom format and each one of the Merrie Melodies will have a different look and feel, rather like music videos.

How have the new characters been drawn?

Asked about taking on the task of drawing such iconic characters, Jessica said that she just took them and drew him in her own personal style. She also said that her first take on them had them looking very young, sort of like 8-year-old kids, but they eventually went away from that direction. She said that she always loved Bugs’ feet and tail so she just played with the shapes that she liked and made them a little bigger.

Why are Bugs and Daffy roommates now?

When asked about how Bugs and Daddy ended up as roommates, Tony and Spike said that during the creative process it just came up and somehow it just seemed right to have them in the same house. They said that Bugs owns the house and Daffy sort of freeloads off of him. They always felt like the characters lived in California (even back when they were watching the original shorts) so that’s why they ended up there.

Next up, it was time to chat with head writers Hugh Davidson and Rachel Ramras.

How did they approach characters this well known?

When asked about how they took on such well know characters, Hugh said that everyone has a sense of Bugs and Daffy, but everyone’s sense is going to be different. He remarked that the old shorts are massively different from each other and in them you can many different examples of who the characters are. Using the shorts gave them many aspects of their personality that we can explore and it was actually freeing to have all that content as a jumping off point.

Did they watched the original shorts?

Rachel said that she did watch some of the originals, but didn’t want to do it too much. They wanted to stay true to the characters but then they also wanted to explore things like what would happen if characters met other characters that they never did in the shorts.

Hugh said that he always thought the originals were the funniest cartoons. With Bugs being such an iconic character, people were terrified when they started taking chances with him but finally decided that at some point though you just have to do it.

What are the dynamics like between Bugs and Daffy? Are they the animated Odd Couple?

Hugh said he saw one of the shorts where Bugs and Daffy were vacationing together, which he found funny as most of them always seemed to be about each of them trying to get the other killed by Elmer. That particular one though was very inspiring for them as they could all see what kind of friends Daffy and Bugs would make. They feel that those two have a friendship and it’s real. Not only with Bugs and Daffy, but also with Porky. The three of them are funny together, with Bugs is on top as the leader, then Daffy and finally Porky as their little hanger-on.

Rachel said that Porky is kind of the loser but he just wants to be part of the gang so much, he puts up with it. He’s very sweet and wants to be included in everything so he goes along with whatever Bugs and Daffy say.

How did you decide when to bring in certain characters?

Hugh said that one of the ideas going around was to make it a sketch show at first. Then they realized it didn’t feel like they were using they characters to best advantage. He pointed out that the WB was very patient with them and everyone at the studio was committed to doing whatever it took to make it funny.

Rachel said that when they started working on which characters would be where, they had to be careful. For instance, whenever Bugs and Daffy go over to Granny’s house, they don’t talk to Sylvester or Tweety. Because in the show Sylvester and Tweety are still pets. Other characters are a little different than you may remember, for instance Speedy now owns a local Mexican restaurant and is often the voice of reason in the group. Both Hugh and Rachel said it was fun to see characters who would never have normally spoken to each other, interact on their show.

Are there any new characters on the show?

Both said that their version of Lola Bunny is so different from the original character in Space Jam, that she could be considered a new character. The only other new character is Tina, who will end up as Daffy’s girlfriend. Hugh remarked that Tina is a tough, non-nonsense type. Jennifer Esposito (who does Tina’s voice) is a real New Yorker and her voice has that attitude so it sounds real. He said that Tina’s such a strong character that it’s never threatening to her that Daffy is a nitwit. Rachel said that people might wonder who would date Daffy, but he shows vulnerability around her and she also likes a project.

What age is the show aimed at?

Everyone agreed that the show is aimed at 6 to 11 year-olds, but they also hope that parents will watch it with their children as “co-viewers”, since it will appeal to adults as well.

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