ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.6 - SEPTEMBER 1999
Bob Clampett, Boy Wonder Of Stage C
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Putting a 15 minute puppet show on the air is no small feat, however simple it may appear. It is a live television show, requiring actors, writers, a musician, a sound effects man, technical personnel, an art director and production artists, grips, gaffers, cameramen, stage crew, a stage manager, a director and of course, Bob Clampett, invisible to home audiences, but ubiquitous in the background, masterminding every part of Beany with the finesse and single-mindedness of a symphony orchestra conductor. Each character is Bob's design; what they wear and how they act was his decision. Each character's utterance was fine-tuned as Clampett worked with specific actors to determine the character's appropriate voice, action and expression.
One overriding characteristic of the Beany show was there was apparently no "plan" in the invention of the Beany scripts; there was never enough time for a logically developed scenario which would move viewers from here to there in 13 weeks. Instead, Clampett's writers appeared to be climbing all over each other in an effort just to come up with today's script, which frequently followed public sentiment very closely. But they had fun doing it, and the fun they were having and the excited absurdity of the popular show is what intrigued me. Because no one but Bob Clampett seemed to be controlling what the writers wrote, and because doing so gave everyone connected to the show something to giggle about, "in-jokes," comedic situations or dialogue that only people attached to Beany or KTTV could possibly understand, were often written into the script. An example of this was when someone came up with a bad guy puppet character named Kcaj Dleiffud, pronounced "Kadge Du--lee--uh--fuh--fud," which was the actual name -- backwards -- of the account man, Jack Duffield, the executive who sold commercial spots within Beany to sponsors. The creation of the strange character, Kcaj, was a hoot around the studio and I'm certain among Duffield's clients. The character no doubt sold a heck of a lot of air-time. It didn't matter that in-jokes were added, because Beany was fun to watch with or without them. There were no TV audiences more loyal than Beany audiences.
PART II: Production and financial bedlam results when Bob Clampett sets up Snowball Productions and Beany and Cecil becomes a half-hour ABC series.
On October 12, 1999 in the US, Image Entertainment is releasing Bob Clampett's Beany And Cecil: The Special Edition DVD. The DVD will include a dozen of the original Beany and Cecil cartoons from 1962. Plus, a huge amount of bonus material, including: the original Matty's Funnies (the show during which Beany And Cecil cartoons were first shown) opening in color; a couple of the original Matty's Funnies bumpers; four full episodes of Time For Beany that have not been seen since their original airing fifty years ago; a full episode of Thunderbolt The Wondercolt; a musical number from The Willy The Wolf Show; a fund-raiser promotional film featuring the Mr. Peepers Wolf puppet and a sexy live-action little Red Riding Hood; backstage and home movies from Time For Beany and Thunderbolt; Bob Clampett's first television interview; and other early home movies. It will also include a section called "The Lost Work," which will include ten projects Clampett developed, but never released to the public. There is also an audio oral history from Bob Clampett speaking about his career that was edited by Milt Gray, and an audio commentary from Stan Freberg, who, with Daws Butler, did the voices on Time For Beany, talking in depth about the experience of working on Time For Beany, and a commentary from Walker Edmiston talking about Beany and his work on Thunderbolt and Willy The Wolf. There is also a story session recording of a Time For Beany episode where Bob Clampett and staff create a satire of the McCarthy hearings. There are even over 550 stills! The disc's producer, Rob Clampett, Jr., also promises some more surprises. The suggested retail price is US$29.99.
Robert Story is a producer and writer. He lives in Laguna Beach, California.
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