If you were at the Alex Theatre this past Sunday, September 21st for Chuck 102Gether then you’ll know that the following is not hyperbole: IT WAS AN AWESOME AFTERNOON!
Outside the Alex Theatre
First, there’s the Alex Theatre itself…an Art Deco pile on Brand Blvd. in Glendale that is absolutely a knock-out–it’s just a good time being there! When you walk through the forecourt into the cool interior you just know you’re going to be treated to a film spectacle and Chuck 102Gether delivered just that.
A corner of the lobby of the Alex Theatre
Chuck 102Gether was a celebration of collaborative creativity…many family members of the original group of directors and artists who worked at Leon Schlesinger Studios, then Warner Bros. on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were in attendance: Sybil and Hope Freleng, Ruth Clampett, Linda Jones, Robert McKimson, Jr., and the children of Abe Levitow: Judy, Roberta, and Jon. Heck, even Leon Schlesinger’s relatives were there!
Juls Aspinall, right, meets Robert McKimson, Jr., the author of “I Say, I Say Son!” a biography of his father, director Robert McKimson, Sr.
The afternoon got off to a rousing start with a screening of Chuck Jones’s classic, “Duck Amuck”, followed by introductory words from Linda Jones Clough, Chuck Joens’s daughter who introduced the Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon, George Daugherty (a world-class symphony orchestra conductor who regularly guest conducts for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, and other major ensembles. Creator and producer — with David Ka Lik Wong) of the “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony” and “Bugs Bunny on Broadway” touring concerts that have played to millions of people worldwide. He is also a five-time Emmy nominee, and Emmy Award-winning producer/writer/director/conductor of Chuck Jones’s “Peter and the Wolf.”
George Daugherty on the stage of the Alex Theatre with a photo of him and Chuck Jones at Warner Bros. in the early 1990s projected onto the screen behind him.
George was a fantastic M.C.! Not only because he worked closely with Chuck Jones for so many years, in fact, he said he considered Chuck a second father…his own father having been born on the same day as Chuck, but also because he’s a font of knowledge about the music, arranged and conducted by the amazing Carl Stalling, and shared many insights into the how and the why of the music used in the cartoons, particularly those of Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, and Bob Clampett. Great stuff!
In between cartoons by Looney Tunes directors Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, and Robert McKimson, Sr. there were panel discussions about the directors and films we’d seen. This one is composed of Leith Adams, former Executive Director Warner Bros. Corporate Archives; Bill Kroyer, director of “Ferngully” and Director of Digital Arts at Chapman University; Tom Sito, now head of the Animation Department at USC’s film school; Linda Jones Clough, Emmy Award-winning producer and founder of Linda Jones Enterprises.
The second panel was made up of three of the four “Dover Boys”: Chris Bailey, Jeff DeGrandis, and Rob Minkoff along with the indomitable Eric Goldberg. Seen here with a photo of them meeting Chuck Jones for the first time in the early 1980s at CalArts. That’s Jeff in the rabbit ears! Their list of credits is pretty impressive too: DeGrandis is the former producer of Nickelodeon’s “Dora the Explorer” and is now a producer at DreamWorks; Chris Bailey was the director of the animated feature, “Hop”; Rob Minkoff was the director of “The Lion King”, “Stuart Little”, and “Mr. Peabody; and Eric Goldberg was the director of “Pocahontas” and the supervising animator of the Genie in “Aladdin”.
Linda Jones Clough, right, with Tom Sito.
Hope and Sybil Freleng
Marian Jones, Chuck’s widow, with Eric Goldberg
From left: Ruth Clampett, Robert McKimson, Jr., and Phil Roman
From left: Robert McKimson, Jr., Robert Schlesinger, Linda Jones Clough, Hope Freleng Shaw, Sybil Freleng Bergman, George Daugherty, Judy Levitow, Ruth Clampett, and Valerie Kausen (granddaughter of Chuck Jones)
There was a lot of laughter brought to us by the following cartoons (selected, by the way, by the director’s family members): Chuck Jones’s “Duck Amuck”, “They’re They Go Go”, “One Froggy Evening”; Friz Freleng’s “Birds Anonymous” and “High Diving Hare”; Tex Avery’s “I Love to Singa” and “A Wild Hare”; Bob Clampett’s “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery” and “Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid”; Robert McKimson’s “Hillbilly Hare” and “Walky Talky Hawk”. Thank you all for joining us!
Photographs courtesy Stephen Russo as noted.