Monday, September 29, 2008

The Return of Bugs Bunny!

Letters, we get letters…

And after about six months, I actually answer the letters!

Apologies for taking so long. I’ve been out of town for a while. I was on my way to Crawford, Texas, to straighten out a few people when I accidentally took a wrong turn in Albuquerque, wound up at some military base in Nevada – Area 51, I think they called it – and before you could say “homeland security,” I found myself in a lovely tropical resort known as “GITMO.” The downside: no a.c. The upside: great mojitos! I’ll tell ya about it later. First, letters.

Graham wrote: Welcome to the Internet, Bugs! I hope this blog gets updated more; this is an awesome idea on your part! Two questions: Who was your favorite Termite Terrace director to work with, and do the other Looney Tunes stars have the same personalities as they did on camera?

Thanks for writing, Graham. I'll try to update more often.

Who was my favorite Termite Terrace director?

You're putting me on the spot, Graham. Here's one way to look at it: my longest association was with Chuck Jones. He outlived Friz by a few years. And Chuck made some classics – Long Haired Hare,” “Rabbit of Seville,” “What’s Opera, Doc,the hunting season “trilogy.” ’Course, by the late 40’s, early 50’s, Chuck had assembled the best team working in the business. Mike Maltese, Abe Levitow, Ken Harris, Maurice Noble…I could go on and on.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love Friz, and he deserves a lot of credit, not just for Sam and Tweety and Sylvester, but also for stirring up the whole Daffy vs. Bugs showbiz routine. Friz really set the stage for the entire premise of “The Bugs Bunny Show” television series in the early ‘60’s.

As for Tex, he was the first one to really let my winning personality shine through. Once Tex flew the coop, Bob Clampett grabbed the ball and ran with it. I loved the intensity of his cartoons. And he knew how to get a great performance out of Daffy. And I’ll always be grateful to Bob McKimson for giving us the Tasmanian Devil. Not because Taz is such a fantastic actor, but because he can get you a good table at The Ivy when he maitre-d’s on the weekends.

Do my fellow Looney Tunes have the same personalities on-camera and off-camera?

In a word: NO! Not even close. The differences between their on-screen and off-screen personae are so plentiful that I could fill a book – or a blog – with the examples. So, as time goes by, I will offer up a few anecdotes on this particular topic and post them on the blog.

But, just to whet your appetite, let me say that, um, how do I put this delicately? There’s a cute bird who isn’t as sweet as you might expect. If you think Daffy has an ego, well, this other bird’s ego could beat up Daffy’s ego any day. I won’t go into it any deeper right now since the bird has an entourage that can get pretty rough, and his lawyer is very litigious.

Letter #2: Anonymous (Monkey Zombie) wrote: “(In your upcoming performances) bring in some political humor try some new material, new gags, shout mid-level explicatives, tell risque jokes, so what if the politicians get upset, they’re just leaves in the wind, 'cause no matter what you do someone somewhere is gonna be upset with you. Bring back slapstick, so what if a kid gives his friend a concussion because he hit him across the head with a plank, if they can't tell the difference between reality and cartoons they belong in an asylum. Truth is I want to see Bugs Bunny back, making smart ass comments about things. How about you go to normal places like the grocery store or the post office and complain about what people do, or what most people don't like about the places. It’ll be great. How about you battle a Terminator-looking exterminator or a small annoying hyperactive dog that won’t leave you alone. Or a jackass teenager who tries to be the bad ass by picking on things smaller and weaker than him. Not that I'm saying you’re smaller and weaker than a teenager. Anyway, there are some ideas. Go and reinvent yourself. -Monkey_zombie”

Dear Mr. Zombie, or may I call you Monkey? I love your ideas. I like the way you think. Please take control of Time-Warner – legally, if possible – and become the chairman of the board or, at the very least, the head of the Warner Bros. studio – and have one of your assistants transcribe the above ideas into a memo, distribute the memo to everyone at the studio and have them get right on this.

Once this is underway, let’s do lunch.

Letter #3: Laughing Dragon wrote: "Bugs, you're the best. And I quite agree, nowadays you're either being ill-used or not used at all, and that IMO is criminal. And we miss you. God, do we miss you. With your toons no longer being broadcast, I find myself watching crud like "The Fairly Oddparents" (BTW, how about doing a cameo on that show and dropping an anvil on that annoying fairy Cosmo? No? Yeah, you're right, it'd be a waste of your talents - sure, he's annoying, a jerk, a waste of space, but he's no Elmer). A few years ago, I saw your latest film "Looney Tunes: Back in Action", only to see you and Daffy take a back seat to human B-actors. What an indignity!!! Hopefully you'll find a decent script, a director that understands your art, and once again grace the big screen with moxie and style. Hey, if they can bring back Harrison Ford, why not you? (Frankly, you've aged better)."

Dear Mr. Dragon: Thanks for saying that I have aged better than Harrison Ford. The truth is, I have talented artists working for me and they can keep me looking young forever by using their significant drawing talent and a good eraser. Harrison needs more than an eraser to stay young. He needs a plastic surgeon and a bunch of blue pills.

Regarding Looney Tunes: Back in Action. So you’re the one who saw it! I completely agree with your assessment that the moviemakers put me in the back seat. From now on, I won’t agree to that. No more back seat for me. I need to be in the front seat. And I need to be driving. Recklessly.

Finally, Mr. Dragon, or may I call you Laughing? At your earliest convenience, please take control of Time-Warner or, at the very least, the Warner Bros. studio -- and put me to work. Then, give Monkey Zombie a call and we can all do lunch.

And lastly (fanfare, Carl, if you please), Letter #4. Trevor wrote: "Ya know, Bugs, the closest I've ever came to speaking to you in person was when I spoke with Chuck Jones. I could hear your voice in his, of sorts, and it was as close to magic as one could hope to find in this 3 dimensional world. Anyway, what are your thoughts on the way they've been drawing you lately? Did you have anything to do with that crappy Extreme Looney Tunes show? And is it also true that all of the Looney Tunes' stunt doubles worked on Space Jam because the whole gang refused to do it? I hope it is."

Dear Trevor: Chuck was always trying to do my voice. I’d tell him, “Chuck, you handle the directing, let me do the acting.” At recording sessions, he’d give me line readings. “No, Bugs, do it like this,” he’d tell me. It ticked me off. So, at night, I’d go to his home, wait till he and his wife went to bed, and I’d heckle him. “No, Chuck, do it like this,” I’d tell him.

I’m not so concerned about the way they draw me nowadays, just as long as they draw me – or rather, just as long as they animate me! That’s what really needs to happen. A little less talking about Bugs and a lot more animating of Bugs!

Did I have anything to do with that Extreme Looney Tunes show?

Do you mean, that unfunny action adventure cartoon show on the WB called Loonatics or Loonatics Unleashed ? Well, they should’ve kept it on a leash. I was involved in it, inasmuch as every time it appeared on the screen I become violently ill, upchucked my carrot juice, and had to be rushed to the local emergency room to have my eyeballs flushed with antibiotics in order to repair the retinal damage caused by the viewing of said Loonatics.

I sent the weekly hospital bills to Warner Bros. Television Animation, Burbank CA.

Let’s talk about “Space Jam” another time. Just the mention of Loonatics Unleashed has sent me into a renal failure. I’m off to the E.R.

Thanks for the letters, and the kind words. I hope I get the chance to make some more cartoons – some great ones – as soon as those Warner Bros. execs wake up and smell the funny.

Till next time, that’s the end…

-- Bugs