Brett Merhar's cult comic strip FREE FOR ALL premieres as a new, very adult animated series on the Showtime Network, at 11:00 pm on July 11, 2003. Produced by Showtime Networks, in association with the primetime animation expert Film Roman, the series of seven episodes follows Johnny and Clay, the strip's cynical, dysfunctional bestfriends, struggling with out-of-the-ordinary daily woes with Clay's sidekick, Angus, a ferret strung out on drugs.
If parents groups were up in arms about STRIPPERELLA and the other adult animated series which recently debuted on The New TNN (about to be Spike TV), wait to they get a load of the frequent use of four-letter words, nudity, drugs, sex, car races and twisted but hilarious humor in this late night entry. Then again, it is offered late at night on a premium pay cable channel with far more limited access than basic cable service, which supposedly will satisfy protestors' complaints about children being able to access adult animation.
The show looks like comic panels with talking heads, interspersed with some quick bits of action with spurts of a 3D depth of field. The art style and color palette is reminiscent of BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD. The show combines a state-of-the-art production pipeline, which blends tradition animation techniques with digital technology, and will be one of the first animated series to be broadcast in HDTV. Film Roman brought 3D animation company Savage Frog on board to handle the digital work with line producer Mindi Lipschultz. At one time, Lipschultz co-founded and headed L@it2'd, one of the first digital broadcast-interactive design and animation boutiques in Los Angeles.
The series opens with supercool Clay living a life of luxury, having won a multi-million dollar lawsuit after slipping and falling on a sandwich in a restaurant. He has set up an elaborate security system to keep his addicted ferret out of his painkillers, which the outrageous, scheming pet manages to penetrate. His timid friend Johnny agrees to detox the critter in exchange for help with the ladies in his life. He pines for the lovely girl next door, Paula, who unknowingly taunts him with her grudge sex matches with her macho ex-boyfriend. Johnny's grandma is trying to kill him so she can move out of the moldy old basement of the house to takeover his bedroom. Clay must satisfy this tough old lady's bizarre sexual appetites on a wild trip to Vegas where her withered body gets quite a workout. Johnny's comical, boozing father adds to the family antics.
Voices for the show are Jonathan Silverman as Johnny, creator Merhar as Clay, Juliette Lewis as Paula, Mitzi McCall as Grandma and Sam McMurray as Dad. FREE FOR ALL is co-written and exec produced by Merriwether Williams, who was a head writer on SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. John Hyde, president/ceo of Film Roman, is exec producer with Richard Hull as co-exec producer. Creative exec for Showtime is Beth J. Greenwald. Animation supervisor is Justin Baker while Kevin Van Hook oversees the 3D animation. Dave Marshall directs the series with Daniel Ridgers, production manager.
Merhar, creator of the comic strip, which has been syndicated in more than 75 newspapers nationwide since its launch in April 1998, also serves as co-writer and exec producer. Merhar began drawing FREE FOR ALL in 1992 as a student at Colorado State University for the school newspaper, THE COLLEGIAN. When the strip was launched by King Features, Merhar, then 27 years old, became one of the youngest newspaper cartoonists ever.
For 16 years, Film Roman has been a leading animation production company working on such primetime hits as THE SIMPSONS and KING OF THE HILL, as well as the Saturday morning series X-MEN: EVOLUTION. For more program information check out www.sho.com.