Commentary &Hubley &UPA 28 Feb 2006 08:51 am


A couple of things yesterday turned me toward the past.

- Three celebrities died over the weekend. I only had an actual communication with one of them. ABEL’S ISLAND was in the throes of new production. Tim Curry had been recorded and edited in London, and I was riding the high of his voice. We were about to record Heidi Stallings as Amanda, Abel’s wife and had one principal voice left to cast and record.

Darren McGavin was performing in a local off-Broadway production. His voice would be perfect for Gower, the frog, the only one to see Abel during his castaway year.

I searched high and low for an agent. I looked through all the guides. I called Actor’s Equity, SAG, NABET. No one had any link to him. Finally, in desperation I called the theater management and explained my position asking if they could kindly relay the message to Mr. McGavin’s agent or manager. It took a couple of days, and I received a call from Darren McGavin, himself. He was furious with me and took out his anger on the phone. The tone of the call was to ask how dare I go through the back door and insult him like this! I tried to be positive, I tried to be courteous, I tried to explain my low position. Eventually, he asked me to send him the script and he would consider it.

However, the bad footing I’d made could not be repaired, and I wanted no bad vibes to enter my film. Gower could have not a tad of anger in his existence. Lionel Jeffries, a brilliant character actor and director, was playing on Broadway opposite Peter O’Toole’s Henry Higgins. Lionel Jeffries voiced Gower brilliantly.

I’m truly sorry I did not get to work with Darren McGavin; I thought him a brilliant actor and a part of my mind’s ether. I’m sorry to see him gone.

- T. Bosustow visited yesterday and I reviewed any thoughts or comments I had about UPA’s films and personalities with him. The session remained with me, and thoughts of UPA were present all day. Rooty Toot Toot kept replaying in my mind to the point where I have to search it out and watch it today.

That film was an enormous influence on me.
I think it’s one of the top five animated films of all time and should be seen over and over by animators as a reminder of what their goals should be while working in this business.

If John Hubley had not had his company, Storyboard Productions, he still would have entered the animation pantheon because of this film.

Fortunately, those in LA will have an opportunity to see it projected on a big screen on March 26th at the Egyptian Theater.

My favorite photo of John Hubley.
(Click on images to enlarge.)

- To GOOGLE Rooty Toot Toot brings you to a small chatty comment on political radio broadcaster Wendy Wilde’s blog. There’s a short poem by Walt Kelly quoted there. It relates to the Blacklist permeating the entertainment business at the time of writing. (Maybe the film relates to this as well. Maybe both relate to what’s going on in the political air today.)

The rooty toot toot of the very minute,
The booty boot boot of the band,
The cutey cute cute of the less than astute,
Shivers and shudders the land.

I thank Kathryn Eagan for posting this poem on that site so I would get to see it.

One Response to “Reminiscing”

  1. on 28 Feb 2006 at 3:20 pm 1.Jenny Lerew said …

    That’s a baffling story re: McGavin. I have vague memories of reading that he was a “difficult” actor to work with…but I fail to understand why he was infuriated that you tried to contact him about a job in that way. Odd! I too think he was great(I was glued to “Kolchak” when it orignally aired, for one). I’s a sad loss.
    “Rooty” is just a high every time, isn’t it?
    The peak of UPA in so many ways.

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