THAT WASCALLY WABBIT…
8th Aug 2011
Allow me to tell you a story about writing for an Oscar-winning rabbit. Then writing partner, Doug Edwards, and I were commissioned to write a radio series to help launch Warner Bros Movie World on the Gold Coast. Called The Looney Tunes Radio Show it would consist of 65 episodes of mayhem with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the gang running amok in Australia. It was voiced by Keith Scott, who had taken over many of the cartoon voices following the death of Mel Blanc. The series was an audio cartoon aimed at adults. For example, on arrival at Sydney airport Daffy was taken to a room for a strip search. On emerging, Bugs asked the duck, “Did they find anything?” and Daffy replied, “Giblets!”
The show had the desired result for Warner’s advertising agency and Doug and I decided to give America the opportunity to share in our enormous writing talent. We re-recorded radio segments using American voices and made appointments with radio syndication houses in Chicago and New York, and with Warner Bros in Hollywood.
We arrived in Los Angeles and were given a somewhat VIP welcome with a guided tour of the Warner Bros backlot (below) before our scheduled meeting at the studio offices with one of the programming executives.
Arriving at the foyer high up in a shiny glass and chrome building we were greeted by an effusive Afro-American receptionist who made us welcome with iced water and took us to the boardroom. The magnificent views over LA told us that we were about to meet someone important. The important, young, suited executive arrived and he was also effusive – he loved the Looney Tunes radio concept and would be pitching it at the programming meeting the following Tuesday. That was perfect for our timing because we had appointments across the country and would be back in LA on the Monday evening.
In Chicago we received a luke-warm reception in our meeting with three radio people so Doug decided to play them a couple of episodes of How Green Was My Cactus suggesting that a political satire may be what they were looking for. That move was death on a stick. Those five minutes seemed like five hours watching blank faces that didn’t understand the accents, the politics, the characters or the humour.
On to New York and time out for a bit of sightseeing – the Empire State Building and Manhattan – and we stayed at the famous ‘writer’s’ hotel, The Algonquin. Writing-wise we received a much better reaction there – we had sent some sample sketches ahead and the producers were impressed – so much so, they were able to quote many of the lines. We were ‘funny guys’ who would make a great addition to their writing team – and we could fax jokes from Australia no problem (email hadn’t been invented). Then they told us how much they paid for material and it was about half the rate we worked on back home. So much for a Hollywood lifestyle.
Back to Los Angeles to Warner Bros Studios for the board’s decision. At the designated meeting time we rode up the lift to the executive floor only to be greeted by a non-effusive Afro-American secretary. She rushed toward us, turned us around and accompanied us to the ground floor. It was best we leave, she said, because the executive who put the radio concept forward had been fired for even thinking that the radio series would enhance the Looney Tunes brand. I have a feeling the airport body search that found giblets might have been the clincher. It was an expensive but interesting week but we did get to see Pretty Woman in flight. Twice.
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