Thursday, December 4, 2008

Irv Spector At Ed Graham Prods: Esoterica

Odd and ends from The Linus The Lionhearted Show:

Old School: Vinyl tracks for the pilot "The Flyin' Lion". These were given to the animators to work from.

Below: Story outline and all final decisions surrounding story had to be approved by the advertising agency Benton & Bowles, whom I imagine ran it first by General Foods. Here, you can see that somewhere along the line the agency or sponsor did not want a reference to the Berlin Wall. Too bad, looks like it had the potential to be the best gag in the cartoon. I guess it was okay to push a sugar saturated product down kid's throats, but not to *write your own here*.

The second season was the last that my father was involved with The Linus the Lionhearted Show. Most readers here probably know that the show saw it's eventual demise several years later when the FCC decided that the line was blurred -- to put it mildly -- between the show and the sponsor's product.

Ironically, this was not the only time my dad was connected with the negative scenario of a children's show being to closely tied to a sponsor. Not long after Linus went off the airwaves, my dad was working for Pantomime Pictures as supervising director for their Saturday morning cartoon show Hot Wheels. Not only did the show's characters drive around in boss-looking fast cars, but the main sponsor, Mattel, had their Hot Wheels toy cars newly on the market. Apparently now, 40 years later, Hot Wheels, the toy, is hot again.

A little anecdote about Hot Wheels, as it was told to me at the time by my father: Hot Wheels was one of the first, if not the first, commercial cartoon show to have some of it's action animated by computer -- the fast driving sequences, I believe. Anyway, my dad senses that something is off with the animation and checks that the computer's timing is accurate to what he himself believes to be true. The two aren't matching up. Several times he comes up with a different number than the computer spits out, and each time he goes to others in the studio and mentions what's happening, always getting a reply something to the effect of, "C'mon Spec, it's a computer. They're not wrong." ...uh, do I really need to finish this story for you?


eeTeeD said...

So-Hi is So-CUTE! did your father make the model sheet for him?
(as he was the mascot for children's cereal, i wonder if his full name was So-Hi In-Sugarcoating)
i wish this cartoon series was available on dvd!

p spector said...

Hard to say, but I tend to think so. If going by his handwriting, The first model sheet is definitely his handwriting, but "The Singing King" less so. He didn't tend to dot his i's, except when he did dot them. Singing King could be by Rudy Zamora, who directed it.

Michael Sporn said...

Those audio tracks on phonograph albums usually were marked up by the animator. They'd use a white china marker to pick the points of their scenes and would play them over and over. The original dj's.

How different everything is today with digital tracks.

p spector said...

Thanks Michael. I'd forgotten all about those little white marks. I don't think it was too much later that compact home tape recorders became affordable and hit the market (the transistor age coming into it's own.) Animators began to switch over -- at that time it was like something out of the Jetsons!

J Lee said...

Somewhere, I've got the audio track of "The Flyin' Lion" on tape. Still has some decent gags for a show on such a low budget, and the "Can you lay an egg?" end gag is good, though of course having Carl Reiner and Sheldon Leonard handling the voices definitely made the characters stand out.

(It's also interesting that Sheldon's voice for Linus is a little more low-keyed than what would later be used in the show. Do you know if your dad handled the voice direction, or was that done by somebody else?)

p spector said...

J Lee,
I've never assumed he was involved in it for no good reason other than the fact that I never heard any "story" behind it. Seems it would have been something he would have related to me, as he was a fan of Leonard and Reiner even before Linus.

Although I could be wrong, my gut feeling is that it was handled by Graham -- and not in LA but when he still had a NY office, before he moved west. There are some talents Graham thought he possessed, but really did not. However, I have to give him due as being able to work with voice talent. As a younger adman in the 50's Graham was in large part responsible for recruiting Bob and Ray and putting together the iconoclastic Bert and Harry Piel commercials. Graham's would also occasionally voice a Linus character, Billie Bird, I think.

Anonymous said...

Carl Reiner was Billie Bird. Ed Graham was Mockingbird.