Tag Archives: Jerry Beck

Chuck Jones Centennial Film Tribute at Cinefamily

This past weekend, Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre in West Hollywood, California hosted a two-day film tribute to Chuck Jones. Hosted by animation film historian and author, Jerry Beck, on Saturday, they screened eight of Chuck's masterpieces from his days at Warner Bros. including such classics as "What's Opera, Doc?" and "One Froggy Evening" both of which are in the Library of Congress's National Film Registry. The late afternoon event wrapped with a rare screening of Chuck Jones's 1973 TV special, "A Cricket in Times Square." The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity provided Cinefamily with Chuck's personal 35mm prints of the cartoons. 

Jerry Beck (L) and Alexander McDonald, program director for Cinefamily, outside the Silent Movie Theatre.

Jerry's special guest on Saturday was animator, art director, and theme park designer, John Ramirez, who had worked with Chuck Jones in the 1980s and 1990s. He and his colleagues were the designers of the Chuck Jones exhibition at the Capitol Children's Museum, Washington, D.C. in 1990. 

Jerry Beck (L) and John Ramirez discuss the finer points of a Chuck Jones cartoon at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre in West Hollywood.

There was even cake! (Who doesn't like a good carrot cake, I ask you?)


On Sunday, Craig Kausen, chairman of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity and Chuck's grandson, made opening remarks before a screening of Jones's only feature film, "The Phantom Tollbooth." Special guest, actor Butch Patrick, who starred as Milo in "The Phantom Tollbooth" made an appearance and spoke with the near-capacity crowd. All-in-all it was a great weekend for Chuck Jones fans!

Animator and fan, Thom Nicolette (L) with actor Butch Patrick ("The Munsters", "The Phantom Tollbooth") at the Cinefamily Chuck Jones Film Tribute. 

Craig Kausen (L) and Butch Patrick at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre in West Hollywood.

Craig Kausen (R) brought a portfolio of material from the making of "The Phantom Tollbooth" to share with the crowd of fans. He's seen here with Alexander McDonald (far left) of Cinefamily and Jerry Beck (center), author, animation historian and host/moderator for the weekend film tribute to Chuck Jones.

Photographer Stephen Russo (R) seen with Butch Patrick outside the Silent Movie Theatre. Mr. Russo provided all of the photos for this post. Thank you, Stephen!

How to Celebrate 100 Years of Joy! Chuck Jones Film Festival at the Alex Theatre

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Order your tickets today by clicking the image above or visiting the Alex Theatre website, AlexTheatre.org.   

The Chuck Jones Centennial Celebration Film Festival will be an evening devoted to honoring the artist who brought to life such famous cartoon characters as Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Pepé le Pew, Marvin Martian, and Marc Anthony. Hosted by the family of Chuck Jones, the evening will include reminiscences from noted artists* whose careers and lives have been impacted by Chuck Jones and the work he created.

Of course, there will be cartoons, many of them from Jones' personal 35mm collection. Chuck Jones, whose credits include four Academy Award-winning short films, directed over 300 films in his lifetime, with such memorable titles as "Rabbit Seasoning?", "Robin Hood Daffy", and "Feed the Kitty".  In 1992 his "What's Opera, Doc?" was the first short animated film to be inducted into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry, subsequently two others have been added, "One Froggy Evening" and "Duck Amuck".  Jones, an honorary lifetime member of the Director's Guild, is considered to be one of the pioneers of the animated film, feted and honored at dozens of International Film Festivals from Annecy to Zagreb.  In 1985 Jones was the subject of a film retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.  In 1999, Jones founded the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, a non-profit public charity whose vision is to inspire the innate creative genius within each person that leads to a more joyous, passionate, and harmonious life and world.

Join the Jones family (Marian, Linda, Craig, Todd, and Valerie) as they welcome our special guests, including:

*Carl Bell, animator and clean-up artist, will be one of the presenters. A Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Bell worked with Jones in the late 1960s and early 1970s at MGM. His career includes work with Clampett Productions early in his career and most recently with Disney Studios.

*Eric Goldberg:  Eric Goldberg joined Disney Studios in 1990 as the supervising animator responsible for the movements, personality and soul of the Genie in Aladdin.  Goldberg's strong background in animation next earned him his directorial debut on Pocahontas, which he followed up as the supervising animator on Phil, the salty satyr and trainer of heroes in Hercules.  Goldberg also directed the "Carnival of the Animals" and "Rhapsody in Blue" segments ofFantasia 2000, the continuation of Walt Disney's 1940 masterpiece.Goldberg not only served as the director of animation for Warner Bros.' 2003 live-action and animation hybrid feature "Looney Tunes: Back in Action," but he also provided the voices of the cartoon characters Marvin Martian, Tweety and Speedy Gonzalez.  Working with Bob Kurtz of Kurtz + Friends, he animated the title sequence of MGM's 2006 remake of "The Pink Panther".  His relationship with Chuck Jones began in the early 1990s and continued until Jones' passing in 2002.

*Jerry Beck is an animation historian, author, blogger, animation producer and industry consultant to Warner Bros. Studios and has been an executive with Nickelodeon and Disney. 

More names of presenters as they become available.

The Alex Theatre is located at 216 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale, CA 91203. The phone number is 818-243-ALEX (2539).

Chuck Jones Center for Creativity Welcomes Guest Film Curator

This just could not wait another minute…

The Guest Curator page on the soon-to-be-brand-new-exciting-and-thrilling Chuck Jones Center for Creativity website will be devoted to commentary provided by a variety of experts and fans of the art and films of Chuck Jones.  Throughout this series, we plan to bring you new insight and fresh perspectives on Jones's oeuvre.  Stay tuned!

Animation expert, author, and historian, Jerry Beck, graciously agreed to inaugurate the Guest Curator page on the Center's website, but due to a delay in launching that brand-new-exciting-and-thrilling-website, we've decided to share his insights with you today here at Chuck Redux.  Selecting three Chuck Jones cartoons to highlight proved a challenge, but one he met with his usual gusto, delight, and expertise.   Read on! 

ONE FROGGY EVENING – Chuck Jones probably never set out to create a classic when he began directing this one-shot cartoon (originally titled “It Hopped One Night”), but that’s exactly what he did. Michael Maltese’s premise, about a singing frog that performs only in view of its owner, must have appealed to Chuck for its witty use of popular tunes from an earlier generation, and a story told virtually through pantomime, poses and facial expressions.
But it turned out to be (in my humble opinion) his greatest piece of animation storytelling, where every subtle nuance conveys feelings we can all relate to, including happiness, greed, frustration and failure. One Froggy Evening plays upon our desire to achieve the American Dream of easy success, and finds humor in the realities of how that success may or may not be obtained. Jones’ animation unit at this time was at the height of its talents, producing cartoons as contemporary as the UPA shorts, as timeless as Disney, and utterly original on their own terms. A masterpiece!
Unfortunately, One Froggy Evening is only available by hyperlink, click on the title in this sentence to watch the cartoon.
OPERATION RABBIT – The best cartoon characters represent identifiable personalities that are either who we are – or who we want to be. Operation Rabbit presents the eternal battle between those two forces. Bugs Bunny has always been smarter than his various adversaries (think Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam and Taz), but here he encounters his brainest foe – a “genius” in fact – Wile E. Coyote.
Jones concocted the coyote as the personification of his own bewilderment with tools, machinery or simply building things. He knew how funny this sort of character could be up against the cool, calm and confident Bugs, just as he was in his debut film versus the Road Runner two years earlier.
Operation Rabbit is Wile E.’s second screen appearance and his first speaking role (not to mention the first time the character is named). I personally think its one of the best Bugs Bunny cartoons ever made and debatably the funniest. The scene of the coyote hanging on a rock ledge, having just been blown to bits by a train hitting his nitro glycerin shack, repeating his name “Wile E. Coyote, Super-Genius” – that never fails to make me laugh out loud. I know that guy. He’s me, he’s Chuck and he’s probably you.
Unlike the Coyote, Jones hit the Bullseye with this one!

SCAREDY CAT – Scaredy Cat is the first of several Porky Pig and Sylvester “Gothics”, three cartoons Jones made with a similarly eerie premise, and one of my all-time favorites. This one has the pair spending a hair raising night in an old dark house. The humor comes from Sylvester’s observations and actions to protect an oblivious Porky from a legion of killer mice.
Every director at Warners had their shot to work with Porky and Sylvester and each succeeded in creating an individual persona for the characters. Jones’ Porky is never more appealing than he is here – optimistic, self-assured and quite a strict pet owner. Sylvester is also tweaked in a Jonesian way: silent and scared, paranoid yet uncharacteristically brave. Oh, and I also believe this is the first cartoon where the cat (unnamed in previous screen appearances under Clampett, Davis and McKimson – and dubbed “Thomas” in Freleng’s Oscar winning “Tweetie Pie”) is given his proper name, Sylvester.
That sound like something Jones and Maltese would make up for this speech-impaired putty tat. “Sufferin’ Succotash!”


The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity: Gala Grand Opening at South Coast Collection!

Where to start?  It's taken a day just to decompress after all of the hoopla and foopla and other oopla's, but we're here to tell you that Saturday night at 3321 Hyland Avenue, Costa Mesa was a rock 'em, sock 'em, knock-out of an evening!  The doors opened at 6 PM and within a few minutes the 8000 square foot space was filled to the brim with southern California's brightest and best.  Artists, animators, writers, and actors, event planners, wedding strategists, publicists, and collectors all converged (harmonically even) to celebrate the partnership of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity with 24 carrots Catering & Events.  

Raffle winners (with many thanks to Lauren (11) and David (9) who tirelessly worked the room selling raffle tickets) chose from a wall of art; hundreds crowded around the Silent Auction wall and placed their bids; it seemed at times that there were a thousand people there, but more likely something like 400 friends and supporters of creativity, along with lovers of the art of Chuck Jones (which was everyone) came together to support the educational programs of the Center.  We thank and salute you for your gracious and generous donations.  Please take a bow!

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Chairman of the Center and Chuck's grandson, Craig Kausen, with his wife, Flavorful chef and one of the night's silent auction donors, Kimberley, greeted and shmoozed, shook hands and air-kissed, laughed and shared their love of creativity with the assembled. 

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The evening would not have been complete without the creative energy of Chuck Jones's daughter, Linda Jones Clough, seen here with her sons Todd and Craig along with Craig's son, Charlie.  It was a multi-generational kind-of-night!

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Special guest, Jeff Degrandis (left), producer and director of Nickelodeon's "Dora the Explorer", "Go, Diego, Go!" and other animated series, and one of Chuck's "Dover Boys", spoke lovingly about the effect Chuck's friendship and mentoring had on him and his career and life during the presentation before the live auction portion of the evening.

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Marian Jones, wife of Chuck Jones, with her friend Dickson Shafer, enjoyed the evening.

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To keep the children who joined us busy, as well as many of the adults, an art project to 'obliterate' a wall and furniture with color-form stickers was set up in one corner of the Center's new space.  It turned out beautifully and will be an ongoing project at the Center.

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Husband-and-wife-artists Patricia and Mike Peraza made the scene.  Mike is participating in the Homage to Chuck Jones series of original and limited edition work that is being created to celebrate Chuck Jones's Centennial this year.

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Writer, blogger, and cartoon historian, Jerry Beck, was one of the well-wishers, seen here with friend Yvette Kaplan.

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Jon Brown (left), co-owner of 24 carrots Catering & Events, addresses the crowd before the live auction. Thank you 24 carrots, we wouldn't be in this beautiful, new space without you!  24 carrots Catering & Events provided an outstanding series of buffet tables laden with delectable goodies from "build your own" sliders to exotic cheeses and liquid nitrogen infused popcorn (you breath fire like a dragon when you eat it!)  They even created a new drink just for this event, a Carrotini!  Everyone said it was delish.

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Robert Patrick (left) of the Center and Linda Jones Enterprises puts his head together with Phillip Trigas, architect (of RTK Architects in Culver City), and the designer of the new space for Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.  By the way, one lucky bidder will have 3 one-hour sessions with Phil as he guides them through the steps to producing an architectural rendering.  He graciously donated his time as a silent auction item.

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Neil Cantor, Managing Director of the Chuck Jones Experience at Circus Circus in Las Vegas  with his daughter, the awesome Lauren, who sold raffle tickets for us throughout the evening AND called out some of the winning numbers as well.  Thank you Neil and Lauren!  (Also, a special callout to Lauren's brother, David — not pictured — who is an incredible salesmen, you rock David!)

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Here's Craig sharing his feelings about his grandfather and creativity before the live auction.

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Here's what Craig was facing during his presentation.  Estimated attendance, 375.

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Our favorite muralist and actor, James C. Mulligan, painted throughout the evening a new mural on one of the tower entrance walls…watch this space for its completion!

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A work-in-progress…

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Collectors Louis and Sandra Lozano (2nd & 3rd from left) enjoyed their Carrotinis with the Yetsko's; Johnny (far left), John, Leigh, and Matt.  

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Artist Bob Elias with friend enjoyed the proceedings.  

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Vivienne and John Ramirez (left, John is the designer of the Chuck Jones Experience at Circus Circus in Las Vegas) with Neil Cantor and Jeff Degrandis (far right).  

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The incomparable Todd Kausen with his wonderful wife, Krista.  Todd donated a live and a silent auction item that tech nerds were all over…one involved filming a sporting event (you know there are going to be a lot of buttons to push) as well as another that included a behind-the-scenes tour of the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles (more widgets & gagdets!)

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Artist, beard-grower, and all around great guy, Mike Kungl, with his charming and delightful wife, Dana, made the scene that much livelier and fun.  Mike has been working on a series of works that will be part of the Chuck Jones Centennial Homage series.  

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A special thank you and shout-out to Stephen Russo, seen here with the Center's Program Director, Pamela Marsden, who provided Chuck Redux with all of these phenomenal photos!  Thank you, Stephen!


“Kill da Wabbit”

Arguably the most famous short animated film ever created, Chuck Jones’ What’s Opera, Doc? of 1957 has been feted, lauded, praised and applauded.  The first animated short film inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry and the #1 animated cartoon as selected by 1,000 animation art professionals, critics and collectors (so sayeth Jerry Beck), What’s Opera, Doc? is the boisterously rhapsodic retelling of Wagner’s operatic Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle.

What normally would take three full days (with intermissions…) to stage and produce has been condensed in the Jones version to just seven sweet and sublime minutes.  And not a nuance of the original is lost.  Bugs Bunny in horned helmet and Brunhilde braids, Elmer Fudd with sword and magic helmet continue their epic struggle to the Wagnerian strains of the Valkyrie’s melody.   Even co-librettists (Jones and Maltese) tune in for a mournful Return My Love as Bugs’ deception is revealed to the love-struck Bavarian bumbler, Elmer. 

What’s Opera, Doc? succeeds on many different levels with the audience.  It is first and foremost a deliciously devilish send-up of the pretensions of the opera world, but at the same time, handled with great sincerity and honesty.   We are invited to share in the antics of the very well known characters as they romp through a magnificently mythic stage set (designed by the incomparable Maurice Noble) and yet they themselves are somewhat mythical in their own right.  A punch and counter-punch effect is created that enhances the silliness factor tenfold. 

“For sheer production quality, magnificent music, and wonderful animation, this is probably our most elaborate and satisfying production.”  —Chuck Jones, quoted in The Fifty Greatest Cartoons As Selected By 1,000 Animation Professionals

This video is of George Daugherty conducting the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra as they play the music that accompanies the Chuck Jones 1957 masterpiece, "What's Opera, Doc?" during a presentation of his "Bugs Bunny on Broadway."  George is bringing his revamped, enhanced and newly titled "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, CA this coming August 6th.  Click here to buy tickets or here to learn more about Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.


A Flurry of Press Clippings

Chuck Jones and the Chuck Jones Gallery have been in the news lately and forthwith are excerpts from these news stories, interviews and press mentions along with links to the complete article:

Timothy Callahan, staff writer and blogger at When Words Collide (Comic Book Resources) interviews up and coming comic book artist and graphic novelist, Jason Latour, who cites Chuck Jones as an influence:

"I think his cartoons were the first time I
noticed a distinct mind at work. They really helped cultivate my
absurdist side, my sense of humor. The stuff he was doing was so full of
character, you felt like his Daffy Duck was a real person. I could
picture Daffy walking off the set after a shoot to go drown his bruised
ego in vodka and cry in a hooker's lap or something. I know he had large
literary influences. Sure the stuff was satirical of its time but you
can really see he was so well read, so smart, but never condescending.

Aesthetically there's such a visceral rawness to it. Like controlled
freedom. You'd have a perfect gestured, supremely well designed
character… but then the freedom to just let his mouth go wobbly and
crudely expressive. My dream is to get away with… to find the place
for in a story for blotches of color for trees, or something like that
Marvin the Martian space base."

Read the full interview here.

Erin Liddell, senior art consultant at the Chuck Jones Gallery–San Diego got some ink this week in an article from the San Diego News Room on the economic impact of Comic Con on local San Diego businesses and the possibility that Comic Con may relocate after their contract with the San Diego Convention Center expires.  

“There isn’t anywhere else on this earth
that we would want to be during Comic-Con,” Liddell said. “From
publicity and press to the increase in people coming in to enjoy our
artwork, it’s 100 percent amazing for us. To lose it would have a huge
impact on us.”

To read the complete article, click here.

Chuck Rothman, in his blog Great But Forgotten, talks about the Chuck Jones character, the Mynah Bird, created initially for Jones' "The Little Lion Hunter" but used in subsequent short films by him:

The Bird is introduced with Inki following his tracks into some bushes,
which begin to wave violently.  He retreats, thinking it's a larger
animal, but out of the storm** comes a small, black bird, like a crow
only rounder, and with a yellow beak and legs.  The bird walks across
the forest to the time of Mendelssohn's "Fingal's Cave/Hebredes
Overture"  in a peculiar gait that part walking, part hopping, moving
in a perfectly straight line until he vanished into a hole or another
bush.  He ignored everything going on around him — until the right
moment, when he would wreck havoc on those who got in his way (usually a
lion that was out to get Inki). 

To finish reading the article, go here.

One of our favorite animation websites is Cartoon Brew, helmed by authors Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi.  They recently posted a note about the upcoming film night at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences that will feature all nine of Chuck Jones' Oscar-nominated (3 wins!) short films.  Get the 411 here.

Thrilling for the Chuck Jones Gallery was hosting a reception and art exhibit for famed indie animation creator, producer and artist, Bill Plympton during Comic Con 2010.  Plympton, as always so gracious and gentlemanly, mentioned the exhibition at his own blog Scribble Junkies.   To catch up with Bill and what he's up to, click here.

Journalist Tom Foreman who blogs on Anderson Cooper's website, AC360°, cited Chuck Jones in an open letter to the president: "Chuck Jones, the famous cartoonist and animator, once told me that when
he was a teenager he enrolled in art school and the teacher began class
by telling the students, “You each have ten thousand bad drawings in
you. The sooner we get them out the better!” As a result, even into
his 80’s, Chuck was still creating up to a dozen drawings every day,
just to keep in practice. No wonder he was a master." 

Read the whole letter here.