ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.02 - MAY 2000
The Hottest Family in Animated TV: Betty and Mickey Paraskevas
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Mickey hanging with Junior Kroll. © Storyopolis.
The son and mom creative duo got their first taste of show biz when Betty began working on Broadway. She worked as an associate for many years with Broadway producer Harry Rigby, and tells of how her father was "very critical" and that the first thing he "really, really liked" was when she started to write songs in 1976. After twenty plus years, one of her songs called, "The Day The Tall Ships Sail," is being made into a book, which will be out in stores next Fourth of July.
They moved out to The Hamptons twenty years ago from New Jersey. For many summers prior, they had stayed at friends houses in the area. However, when Mickey started his first year of college at the School of the Visual Arts, they bought a home in Southampton. "People said to me, what are you doing for New Years, and I said, Im staying home -- in The Hamptons. I love it out here. Everyone is trying to get out here and were here already," says Mickey as he puffs on a cigar sitting outside his studio over looking Main Street in Westhampton Beach. He and his mom are usually found outside their studio lamenting about passerbies and the town in general. They told me a story about how rude one customer was to a waitress at the restaurant that their studio faces only steps away. In fact, one of their first books was called The Strawberry Dog, about a dog that lives in Westhampton Beach.
Another of the creations from the mother and son team. © Storyopolis.
Betty and Mickey could one day rank with the likes of Stephen King and John Grisham with the amount of screen adaptations from their printed material. © Storyopolis.
Mickey started doing illustrations for Time and Esquire magazines during his masters program. He then began selling his first paintings in an antique shop called Tangerine in Westhampton Beach. The antique shop was the inspiration and title of the book, The Tangerine Bear, by Harper and Collins. Artisan is now making a straight-to-home-video cartoon of the book for the 2000 holiday season. The cartoon centers on a bear whose mouth has been sown on upside down and has been pawned off to what he sees as his home, a second hand store. The voices of Tom Bosley, Jenna Elfman, Howie Mandel and David Hyde Pierce are among the celebrities in the cast. Betty re-wrote the entire hour-long show by herself. "They said I had three weeks to write the script, and it was over Christmas so here I am on Christmas Eve sitting there typing," she says. Artisan is also producing the other straight-to-home-video cartoon of theirs called Nibbles OHare. It is slated to be distributed by Easter 2001.
While Mickey was going to school he was employed as an artist for Dans Papers, a weekly free newspaper covering the Hamptons. It was then, "11 seasons ago," says Mickey -- instead of saying 11 years ago, spoken like a true Hamptonite -- that he began illustrating a comic strip that his mother created and writes called, Junior Kroll, which is printed for Dans Papers. The comic strip has also been running for five years in Hemisphere, United Airlines in-flight magazine. The notoriety of Junior Kroll helped give Mickey and Betty exposure to the huge pool of creative movers and shakers who have called The Hamptons home. Junior Kroll was made into several successful books, helping to embark the duo into what is now years of successful accomplishments including, newspaper print, books, TV, movies, and the subsequent merchandising of many related children's toys, goods and gadgets.
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