ALL GOOD THINGS...
May 25, 2004
from Paul Dini
A number of folks who visit this site have followed my writing and producing career at Warner Bros. Animation over the past fifteen years. It is now with a mixture of excitement and sadness that I announce, effective immediately, I am leaving WBA, at least for the foreseeable future. From assorted Spielbergia through Batmen present and future, onto Superman, Duck Dodgers and finally closing out on JLU and a certain super powered pup, I was lucky to work on some great projects with a truly gifted assortment of artists and writers. I’ll miss them Part of me hates to leave ol’ Termite Tower (the somewhat presumptuous name the Tiny Toons crew and I gave our digs in Sherman Oaks when we started back in, yikes, 1989!) but new opportunities are calling and it’s time for me to go. On the horizon I look forward to doing more live feature film writing, more comic book writing (my own characters and others) and generally stretching myself in other creative areas. But a nice long vacation is what I need right now and I think I’ll lose myself on a desert island for a while.
More recent ramblings from my web diary, stretching back to February. Enjoy or discard as you see fit…
Watching the Academy Awards countdown. Yikes! Get a load of Joan Rivers, the poster hag for Botox! It looks like she’s had so much chemical and surgical work done that her face has become a hideous, emotionless waxwork. I’ve seen my pet coyote pass up eating things that looked that nasty. Melissa Rivers is now starting to look like Joan in her prime, but only if you remember that prime is also a term for raw steak.
There’s Phil Collins talking about his music score for BROTHER BEAR. Nice of him to tout the flick, but it doesn’t have a prayer. NEMO will own the cartoon vote like RETURN OF THE KING will rule live action. Looking ahead to next year’s best animated picture, I anticipate a slug-out between SHREK II and THE INCREDIBLES. My money is on INCREDIBLES as the better picture, but SHREK II will be the returning favorite. No doubt Dreamworks will throw an assload of moolah into promoting it. It will be an interesting fight.
Flipping around to other red carpet activity…Bill Murray looks like he’d rather be anyplace other than at the Academy Awards right now. I hope he wins. He should have walked away with best supporting actor for RUSHMORE six years ago. Maybe tonight will even things out. Looks like Diane Keaton has gone Buster Keaton with her wardrobe. Either that or she’s borrowing Marilyn Manson’s current Batman villain in real life look. The gloves are a classy touch, though. Will Ferrell and Jack Black, now there’s a comedy duo just waiting to happen. Someone should stick them together in a movie. Ken Wattanabe is a terrific actor but I’m sorry, he’s just not Ras Al Ghul. Don’t get me started on Batman casting choices or we’ll be here forever. Renee Zellweger, everyone I know in Texas knows her, or claims to. Like LOTR, I think she’s pretty much a slam-dunk tonight. I wonder if Harvey Pekar is at the ceremony? I thought he got a co-writing credit on AMERICAN SPLENDOR, but a glance at the DVD box tells me I’m wrong. Oh well, I’m sure he’ll use the show as fodder for his next comic.
The show itself: Billy Crystal’s opening song is too long. The twee lyrics make me wince. Tim Robbins wins, NEMO wins, Renee wins, Sean wins, Charlize wins, RETURN OF THE KING wins everything else. I hoped DESTINO would win best animated short, but it went to an Australian stop motion flick. Oh well, now we’ll never know if Roy Disney was going to lambaste Michael Eisner some more.
Blah, blah, blah, more awards, more speeches. Where the hell is the delivery guy with the Chinese food? I should know better than to do one of these running award show logs. I always lose interest after the first ten minutes. On the whole everything worked out pretty much the way I thought it would. Too bad I didn’t think to join the studio Oscar pool this year. I could have cleaned up.
Bored tonight. Long day at the studio(s) and I am in need of amusement. I open the box of marshmallow Peeps Miss Misty sent me last week and place one on top of the mound of dog food I am getting ready to feed Kelso. I want to see if I can fool the coyote into thinking it’s a real chick and if so, will he eat it and what will his reaction be? I set the food outside and about forty minutes later I catch sight of Kelso out by the pool stuffing his snout. I don’t see the Peep and figure it’s a goner. Kelso eats the dog food in the usual way, i.e., runs up, takes a bite, runs back, look around, slinks up and wolfs down a bit more. I suspect the reason he’s so furtive is that he expects me to burst out of the house, yelling and running him off. Had I raised him from a pup, I might have been able to instill a modicum of trust in him, but as we made our acquaintance when he was full-grown, he retains a coyote’s healthy distrust of man. Oh sure, he’ll pop out of his den now and then to watch me barbecue in summer (I tossed him a whole pheasant carcass once and he enjoyed that no end) and we’ll cross paths at dawn when I stagger home late from doing the town (kind of like those wolf and sheepdog cartoons, “Mornin’, Ralph. Mornin’, Sam”) but ours is not a cuddlesome master-pet relationship. A good thing too, as I spend a lot of time on the go and don’t have time to worry about letting the pet in or out or making sure if he has enough to eat. If I’m home, he eats, if I’m not home, he eats a wood rat, or a ground squirrel or a rabbit or any of the other small critters that populate my hill. (Last week he ate half a mourning dove and left the other half floating in my pool, the furry bastard.) Besides, cuddlesome is not exactly something I’d like to be with a coyote, especially as the result of such folly would be a series of painful rabies shots. Eventually Kelso finishes up his dinner and runs back up to his den. I make a fast inspection of his dish and find the Peep uneaten and floating in a little pool of coyote urine. Furry bastard.
I kidnapped Misty Lee to Santa Barbara for the weekend and took her to all my favorite places San Ysidro ranch, the zoo, Super Rica taco stand and of course, the old record store run by the addled ‘Nam vet. The owner is a crazy old dude but at least he stocks good Christmas and country-western records. Unfortunately the immense World of Magic store on State St. bit the dust several years ago. Too bad, as Misty would have had a blast there. On the other hand, my car is way too small to cart around things like guillotines and vanishing cabinets, so it was probably all for the best.
I have been spending a lot of time working on a project I can only refer to as Project X. It’s not a cartoon, movie or comic book, but something completely different. I can’t even say if it will eventually come to fruition as it is still early in the development stage. But the project is very cool and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. More news will be coming as I can release it.
Back from the local Wizardworld con in Long Beach. Had lunch with Alex and T.J. Ross and Jim McLauchlin. As much as I like working with Alex, it is very nice to have a year off without the weight of a DC treasury book hanging over our heads. We will most likely do another big project together in the future(not a treasury book, but something big and DC-related) but it won’t be for a couple of years yet. I did a small panel talking about Jing, the forthcoming Batman Animated DVDs, the little flying dog and whatever else the fans wanted to talk about. Picked up a 70’s era JLA tee shirt for Misty’s sister but otherwise spent no money.
Tonight I went to see Disney’s last 2D animated feature, HOME ON THE RANGE. Not a great film, but a good one. Besides, the villain is a yodeling cattle rustler, and how cool is that? The angular design of the RANGE characters and backgrounds recalls late 50’s/early 60’s efforts like WINDWAGON SMITH, PAUL BUNYAN and THE SWORD IN THE STONE. I always liked that period in Disney animation design and it was nice to see the young crew return to it, however briefly. The best character in RANGE aside from rustler Alameda Slim is a one-legged Gabby Hayes-type rabbit called Lucky Jack. His introduction over the film’s main titles offers some of the picture’s biggest laughs. Unfortunately he then vanishes until the last third of the movie, but he’s still funny when he finally reappears. It’s too bad he doesn’t have as much a presence in the film as the TV trailers would lead to you believe.
Easter. I’m sorry, but outside of its spiritual significance, this holiday has no meaning other than to get little kids goofed on sugar. Had a good time at the old family spread in Carmel, though. Went whale watching with Misty, got to meet my brother Steve’s new girlfriend Erin and had a typical fun visit home. And yes, my tirade to the contrary, I got plenty goofed on sugar myself.
@#$% awful day. Got up, yelled at the accountant, then yelled at the lawyer, then Alan yelled at me. Yelled at motorists on the freeway as I drove to a meeting at Disney with a $%^! flat tire. Got to my office there and yelled at the tire guy to come fix my car. Tire guy came and he yelled at my *&^ spare tire that would not detach from the bottom of the *&^ car. I did not yell at the other writers, whom I like, except when one of them wouldn’t leave and get ready for his movie premiere tonight. Then we all yelled at him to go home and get dressed for %)&$’s sake already. Yelled at myself for having too busy a schedule to go to said premiere. Called Misty Lee and did not yell at her. It’s her birthday today, so nothing but nice things were said. Then I finished work, got into my barely moving car and yelled in impotent anger at the cars on either side of me all the way home. Made more calls, yelled at more people. Fed the coyote, yelled at him and he growled at me. Called the limo service, yelled at them to pick me up crack of dawn in the AM. Going to Detroit to celebrate Misty’s b-day, and also see another one of her magic shows. One of the Disney guys wants her to saw me in half and take pictures. Sigh. Oh well, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.
Back home from my trip to Detroit. Great weekend. Went with Misty and her family to a wacky Tiki restaurant for her birthday. Next day my beloved treated me to a tour of the Lionel Train factory and bought me some keen souvenirs. What a gal! Saw her dazzle the crowd at the Detroit Yacht Club with another display of her peerless prestidigitation.
Now it’s late and I’m hungry. Went through the fridge earlier and found some catfish filets that were iffy last week and complete goners tonight. Still, waste not want not is the motto around here and I hauled them out back for the coyote. Sure enough, within seconds there he was, happily gulping them down. Damn, that mangy varmint will eat anything. Anything, that is, except marshmallow Peeps.
Wondercon. I like this convention because it reminds me of what the San Diego con was fourteen years ago; just big enough to interest you for the whole weekend, but not the massive media show it has swollen into over the last decade or so. I did a fun Q and A with Mark Evanier, a couple panels and signings with the WB Animation guys and took Misty to a lot of my favorite Bay Area hangouts.
Well, last weekend the Duck Dodgers crew lost the animation Daytime Emmy to Tutenstein (The hell?!? Someone count those phony-baloney on line votes again!) but Joe Alaskey took home the Emmy gold for his peerless portrayals of both Duck Dodgers and Marvin the Martian, and that got us all cheering again. Way to go, Joe! Your win is long in coming and much deserved. My hope for next year is a tying win between Joe and Bob Bergen, our eager young space cadet. Misty and I had a good time in New York, Emmy or no. Broadway, Soho, Rockefeller Center, the Rhino house at the Bronx Zoo, we hit all the hot spots. It was fun, but we’re both looking forward to Memorial Day as it means nothing more than resting and nesting before we’re running around crazy again.
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