Rocko’s Modern Life Special- Yes It’s Real
This seems like a formality since it’s all over the internet, but I am free to say finally that we are doing a Rocko’s Modern Life made for TV Movie, air date unknown. I was approached by Chris Viscardi of Nickelodeon back in the early part of the year to see if there was interest, and I hemmed and hawed about it for awhile. Called Doug Lawrence and some of the other guys from the show,, should we even do this? The original episodes were so great, why mess with it. Martin Olson and I started laughing about some of the things we could do with the “new” Modern Life,, it became more appealing. After a meeting with Nick Execs that they promised not to water it down,( which they have not) I agreed to move forward. I got Martin Olson and Doug Lawrence to help write the outline, but my attempts at ‘putting the old band together” for the storyboards were mostly met with “I’m too busy” or ” I’m under contract, sorry”. So I got Cosmo Segurson ( who was one of my directors on Lazlo) to co-direct, and brought in Tom Smith ( former student of mine and Storyboard guy at Stoopid Buddy studios) and an animator from South Park Dan Becker. Both are HUGE Rocko fans which was very valuable when doing the board.
This interview I did a couple of weeks ago and released yesterday sheds some more light on the project:
Basically, Rocko Filburt and Heffer have to deal with Modern Life in 2016,17, 18 and there are lots of twists and turns. I’m very happy with it. We are done with the storyboard ( which was split up with the 4 of us, myself included) and are now moving into production.
I will keep this blog posted with developments and interesting quirks from the progression of production.
So, back in 1992, Nickelodeon put my show Rocko’s Modern Life into development, and my studio in Saratoga, CA produced the pilot all in house. Times were innocent, Rocko was yellow, all was good. We had the cels ( yes we used cels then) inked and painted in Montana, ( no foreign studios used in the making of the pilot) they were shipped back to my studio to be shot by our inhouse Mitchell 35 mm camera and camera stand, film taken to SF for processing, then the completed pilot sent to Nickelodeon.
Then all hell broke loose.
The show was picked up, then my wife died. I was originally going to produce the show from my studio in Saratoga ( next to San Jose) but after my wife died, I decided maybe I should move to LA to get away and do the show there. I convinced about half of my staff to move to LA with me to do the show. Within two months of official pick up, the studio in Saratoga was closed and moved to Studio City in LA to meld with “Games Animation”. For some reason I brought all of the cels with me to LA and brought them into the studio in case we needed to use them for reference on the show. The next year was a blur to me, of simultaneously trying to produce a TV series where I had never done it, and grieving over the loss of my wife. Somehow the cels got absorbed into the Nickelodeon machine and I never saw them again.
Until last week.
Somebody posted on my facebook page an original cel from the pilot for sale at the Cricket Gallery. I had no idea that those cels had made it into circulation for sale through Nickelodeon. I clicked on the Link only to find that someone else had already bought it.
I went into work that day, and Tom Smith, who is working on a project with me laughed and said he was the one who bought it. And after seeing my post on facebook that I wanted it, he offered it me.
So now I have it back. A piece from the original pilot, which I’m very happy to touch again. It has the wrong background ( it should be the roof of Rocko’s house) but I’m happy to have the cel again.
Two Amazing Bits of News
First, we had an amazing home birth of Elan Gael Stefan Murray over the weekend. Very healthy new baby boy!
Then yesterday, I got the official greenlight for 40 episodes of my new PBS Show “Luna Around the World”.
A Little Freaked Out
Well, my PBS pilot was completed and sent in to the wonderful process of focus group testing. It’s one of my favorite pilots I’ve done, but will it connect? Don’t know. We will see. My 3 year old son loves watching the pilot. We use it for bribes. It’s a different age group for me. One of the things I was aiming for ( which I aim for with all of my shows) is that parents will enjoy sitting down with their kids to watch it. It’s a tough one, but many shows do it. But sometimes you straddle the line. Especially with a show that skews younger. Will it get picked up? Always a wait and see. Been through it before.
So feeling angst about that.
My wife and I are also expecting a new baby in May. Another boy. My fourth child. 2 girls, 2 boys. While my oldest daughter goes off to Parsons Art College in New York this fall. ANGST!
Just got done with a semi-big consulting job for a French Animation Studio. Some angst. Not so much angst.
Another project which is TOP SECRET ( although some have already figured it out) is about done with negotiations and is ready to begin. Will it be finished before ( if) we begin the highly ambitious PBS schedule with a stripped show aimed at November 2017 premiere?
Quality problems with amazingly good things happening but causing me angst.
Except for the Donald Trump thing. That’s just a plain mind f**K. Just plain confused about some of the people who live in the United States. But that never changes.
But lets not hijack the great things that are happening in my life right now.
Need to get some sleep. I’ll need it.
I have this studio in downtown Glendale. I’ve had it for awhile. In my building is a mixture of film production, and business types. Craig Barlett’s in the building. Passes by at times on his way for noodles. It’s a strange pocket, this creative spot I’ve carved out. My line producer brings thai food for meetings. I have a Nespresso coffee maker that keeps me sane. Rocko, Lazlo and Frog in a Suit memorabilia on the walls.
The studio has a couple projects going on, with emphasis on the PBS project, which is almost out the door for now. Playing around with a new studio card for the back credits.
May be going to Toronto in a couple weeks. I’m already cold.
Happy birthday to my Mom. I miss her.
My new project for PBS is going extremely well. Almost too well. I think I love it more than any other show I have worked on. It says something that needs to be said at this time in our evolution. Not to place too much importance on an animated show, but if I’m going to share my talents as well as those of my colleagues in this form, I’m glad it’s a positive contribution.
There is also another project in discussion that is too early to disclose. It’s crazy and ludicrous. A “not right in the head” project.
I’m often amazed at the twists and turns of ones life, how much it differs from the one we plan, and yet so much richer. We often don’t aim high enough. I need to write more often on this thing. Too busy having fun I suppose.
Sorry, way too long between posts. Been working on my pilot for PBS which I LOVE LOVE LOVE. It’s turning out better than my expectations, and I feel it’s something that is needed right now children’s programming. Great to work on something that is putting something of real value out there.
Things didn’t work out with Joan Cusack. I won’t get into any dirty laundry here. Let’s just say Joan didn’t seem entirely committed to the project. But it all worked out for the better because we got extremely talented actress Judy Greer: (IMDB) to be the lead role, and I feel her voice works better, and she was such an amazing joy to work work with ( above is Judy, myself and co-exec producer and head writer Mark Haslett at the record).
The materials just got shipped to our Canadian animation team, so things will lighten up a bit until the the film comes back.
My two year old can’t stop watching the animatic for the project ( yes, at home I have to review a new pass of the animatic, and Louis comes to watch.) Glad he likes it.
More to come.
Extremely crazy busy.
PBS pilot moving forward. Just signed Joan Cusack for the lead role. Very happy about that.
Todd Henry sent me his new pre-release copy of his new book “Louder than Words”. I strongly recommend buying it when it comes out in August. In my classes, I’m always talking about finding your authentic voice that is only yours. Creatively, in business, in life. This is what the book is about, and it is inspiring.
Just got done working on a project with Carl Jones that he is doing for Adult Swim. Carl is extremely talented ( and a good guy.)