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The Return of Elmo Aardvark in the Twenty First Century!

As Renegade Animation brings the age-old character Elmo Aardvark to the Web, we cut in on SnappyToons Amusement Company executive Will Ryan announcing this new endeavor.

The following are excerpts from a speech given by Mr. Will Ryan at a March 15, 2000 press conference at the Parker Center in downtown Los Angeles.

The dreams of generations of animation lovers are about to be answered by! America's original animated star, Elmo Aardvark, is back on the screen. But not on the big screen. And not on the small screen. Rather, on the 72 dpi pixilated computer screen, which is as ubiquitous today as was once the mighty buggy whip to our forebears.

Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective! © Will Ryan

Worldwide access to Elmo Aardvark's new adventures is important and appropriate. After all, he's beloved in the four metaphorical corners of the globe and all points in between. The vehicle for Mr. Aardvark's latest comeback is Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective! -- and you can find it exclusively on (Those of you who have seen the "teaser" campaign -- the billboards on the Sunset Strip, the animated displays over Times Square, the blimps, the balloons, the bubble gum and so on -- now know the significance of the word "Renegade!" under the familiar Elmo Aardvark visage.)

The program is a co-production between Renegade Animation, producers of much of the finest high-end animation in the United States, and SnappyToons Amusement Company, the venerable studio which has been associated with Elmo Aardvark over the centuries.

Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective! represents a number of firsts in animation history, not the least of which is the fact that it is the Internet's first weekly animated series. From Hollywood. (The entire series is produced one hundred percent on pure Burbank soil!) And only the finest animation ingredients are used in the process -- acknowledged world-class talent in every area of production. Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective! contains more laughs per square inch than any other animated series.

How did this historic new series come about? Well, like many origin stories, certain details are by now shrouded in mist and legend. But, seeing as I was there, I believe I can provide some data to cheer those in need of first-hand factual impressions. As I recall so clearly, the genesis of this series involved an exploding planet, a visit to an abandoned subway station, a Welsh rarebit dinner, years of study in Tibet and a radioactive spider. Following the years of study in Tibet I was amazed to discover that I had the ability to cloud women's minds so they could see right through me. But that's only part of the story. The rest of it, in all its inspiring glory, you can discover for yourself as every Wednesday, presents another exciting, action-packed installment in the electrifying adventures of Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective!

Like so many recent works of fiction, Elmo Aardvark's new series is based on a true story. Few people realize that Gene Autry's first starring vehicle, the Saturday afternoon serial The Phantom Empire, was also based on a true story. And those of you who subscribe to The New England Journal of Medicine may be aware that many motion pictures up for the Oscars nowadays claim to be based on true stories as well. It is my belief that the phrase "true stories" is finally on the verge of garnering the patina of hokum which glows so conspicuously on the façades of older, more time-tested oxymorons. But I fear I may be digressing.

Say, let's go behind the scenes, and meet some of the madcaps involved in the hyperbolically exciting creation of Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective!

The new look for an old face. © Will Ryan.

Scripts, of course, are the final stage of the production process. They are cobbled together after all the animation and voice recording is done. This way writers get to pick the best of all the material previously provided by people who don't necessarily know how to put two words together. The writers in this case go under the noms de plume "Will Ryan" and "Phil Lollar." Who these people really are is anybody's guess. Personally, my guess is that "Will Ryan" is me, and that "Phil Lollar" is the guy I write these scripts with. But hey, that's just one man's opinion.

Little is known about Will Ryan. By the scant documentary evidence available, we can only determine three things with certitude: he lives in Elizabethan times; he once arranged for the purchase of a coat of arms for his father; and in his last will and testament he has left his "second-best bed" to ASIFA-Hollywood (the International Animated Film Society) of which he is the immediate past president. (Mr. Ryan was recently nominated for the Writer's Guild Award, an Emmy and BMI's Silver Circle Award, but modesty forbids his mentioning such honors in the first person.)

Phil Lollar, on the other hand, refuses to divulge the contents of his personal legal papers, a source of great irritation to probing reporters such as myself. He can perhaps be forgiven such coyness, owing to his extreme youth and an innate inability to articulate even the simplest of thoughts. This last observation is not an opinion. It is libel, plain and simple. If, however, we must seek the judgment of others so as to give an air of balance to this breezy screed, we will discover that Mr. Lollar (as he is known to his cowering flunkies) is a highly respected composer of scripts, the creator of several long running series and a fine fencer to boot, if you like booting fine fencers.

Every entertainment series -- even one on the Internet -- needs a producer: someone experienced, resourceful, energetic, multi-talented and wise. Someone photogenic who can pick up all those awards and pose modestly with them in photographs. Central Casting sent us Ashley Postlewaite, a former follower of Thespis and no stranger to Clio. She is also famous for cleaning house at Warner Bros. a decade ago and helping to turn their once moribund animation department into something to inspire awe.

What does Elmo have to complain about? He's got a new show on the Web. © Will Ryan.

Speaking of inspiration, when you look up the word in the next edition of your favorite unabridged, you will no doubt find the beaming countenance of one Darrell Van Citters -- the director who inspired the official comebacks of the two most successful animation studios in town. Disney's Office of Historical Revisionism claims that Who Framed Roger Rabbit (as opposed to, say, Universal's previous hit An American Tail) was the beginning of modern animation's rebirth. Mr. Van Citters had developed that project for that studio for three years. A few years later, the award-winning commercials he directed featuring Bugs Bunny and a basketball player led to Warner Bros. Feature Animation's biggest in-house payday yet, a tribute to commercialization entitled Space Jam.

Before I once again succumb to the all-too-human urge to digress (a not unnatural phenomenon in times such as these, so fraught with this and that, and with such and such, and with so on and with so forth), allow me to share with you some direct quotes from some of the principals involved in Elmo Aardvark's latest assault upon the sensibilities of the public.

Ashley Postlewaite, producer of Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective!: "I've never had the opportunity to work with so many geniuses at one time."

Darrell Van Citters, director of Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective!: "Working on a series where each person is a certified genius is something I never expected to have the pleasure of doing. Yet here I am, actually doing it!"

Phil Lollar, co-writer of Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective!: "Ever since the professors tested me at the age of five and I joined the Rand Corporation at the age of seven, I understood that I was a genius. But imagine my astonishment at meeting so many fellow geniuses at Renegade Animation and at SnappyToons. It's a rarefied atmosphere ofwell, of pure genius!"

Will Ryan, co-writer and gopher for Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective!: "I have never met a more modest bunch of geniuses in all of Hollywood."

What will Elmo do with this iron giant? © Will Ryan.

(Some of the geniuses referred to undoubtedly include such luminaries as animators Kenn McDonald and Harry Sabin, production designer Craig Kellman, assistant animators Cathlin Hidalgo and Loli Noda, technical director Nate Pacheco, production assistant Robert Fung, Web site consultants Leslie Cabarga and Chris Casady, and a stellar cast of Famous Thespians.)

Well, there you have it. Unexpurgated quotes from some of the principal creators of the Internet's First Weekly Animated Hollywood Series. What can I say that hasn't already been said so well by so many? I can only add that it's much more fun working with America's Original Animated Star than it would be if we were stuck with Mr. Mouse or Mr. Bunny or any other of those once-vibrant personalities who have been permanently embalmed by their corporate custodians.

We need no longer sigh, however, in the fading direction of the past. For we can gaze instead upon the shining promise of the future as -- not merely in the here and now, but "in states unborn and accents yet unknown" -- each and every week, Elmo Aardvark cavorts across the screen in exciting, action-packed adventures. And it all begins with his first super-saga for a new age: Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective!

Pure genius!

Will Ryan is the producer of The Wubbulous World of Dr. Suess for which he received an Emmy Awards nomination. Ryans other honors include a Screen Writers Guild nomination for The Road To Ka-Larry. As a composer, Ryan has written lyrics and songs that have been recorded by Patti LaBelle and The Pointer Sisters.

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