Animania IV
Canterbury Tales: The Next Generation, or My Fun Adventure Across the Country to Meet Some People and Do Some Stuff That If I Described It Here The Title Would Be Longer Than the Post, Which Would Be Pointless

by Kevin Pezzano

We already heard the Keeper's Tale, the Splutter's Tale, the Goddesses Tale(Molly), the Wolf's Tale (Bryan), and the Turtle's Tale, and now it's my turn...sorry it's late.

I left Huntsville, AL at 7:45AM Sunday morning, Aug 6th, after working an 8 hour shift. I drove as fast as I could make my car go, and ended up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, shaking from lack of sleep and too much caffeine(I think I scared the hotel clerk), after having plowed through rain and a swamp. The South, go fig.

The next day, feeling a little better and without the nasty twitch, I met up with Jay, had camera trouble, and went on. This continued for a couple of days (I won't bore ya, since you probably want me to get to the juicy details).

Among other things, I visited my old home town in New Mexico, almost lost Andy Diaz in the maze of Phoenix Denney's restaurants, and raced around Palm Springs looking for a place to eat.

Finally, on Thursday the 10th, we arrived in LA...Brendan was there to meet us at the Cucamonga Civic Center (?!? What the hell was he thinking!!), though I didn't know it was him till we all made a U-Turn and zipped out to Kane's house. Once at Kane's place, we were taunted by cantelopes(don't ask me, apparently the tale stretches to Wed. night) and were frightened by enough Animaniacs T-Shirts to outfit the French Foreign Legion, if they ever decided to wear A! stuff.

Then we took a short trip to the hotel, checked in, took photos, and found that sometimes plushies end up in bizarre positions(don't worry, we have pictures). Then, we headed out to a Rest Stop about an hour away from where we were, to nab the Tindall's and Kimmie, even though I was low on gasoline. The journey was long (what the hell was Brendan thinking?!?), and once there, the Tindalls were nowhere in sight!! So we waited...and waited...and waited, and waited, and waited, and talked, and took lots of photos and plenty of video footage, and spot got bit (and it's on video!). And we all said, "what the hell is Brendan thinking?!?" (in case you haven't noticed, that phrase was the most common one on the trip, followed by various threats of physical harm to our Fearless Leader, and probably followed by "That's sick!". Though, despite the communications mishaps, Brendan did an excellent job).

Finally we gave up after learning the Tindalls had gone to the hotel already and that our WB lot tour was postponed until the next day. We then made a mass journey to a mall with a WBSS, and milled around for a while, then someone got the brilliant idea of making an actual runthrough of a Disney store. Suffice it to say we were given the collective boot after doing many things to plushies that can't be repeated here in case the Exon bill passes, and other fun things.

We ended up being late for our dinner, we had reservations (but went anyway! Hah! I kill me...), and also lost Molly, Rex, and Peter! Dinner was good, though, and Bryan's Japan pics were fun.

The next day was the Big Day. We all woke up bright and early, showered, dressed, and went promptly back to sleep. At least I did. We gradually began to congregate in the hotel lobby, where an article on Animaniacs in that days newspaper of some sort was passed around, and we ran into a few more fans who were joining us, one an NBC employee(I forget who he was...a lawyer or something).

We actually arrived early and with everyone at the WBA office (the only time the whole trip we did either, it seems!). Since the conference room they were planning to lock us in forever to keep us away from them forever (at least, that was my suspicion), we waited in the lobby, looking at the etched glass staircase walls, with pics of the various characters that WBA animated. And, natch, we decended like vultures on the business cards and cleaned them out of those. I also had a fun time looking at their mail.

Finally, Peter Hastings got the conference room open, and we all filed in. At first, it was like a Junior High Dance, with the boys lined up on one side and the girls lined up on the other, staring at each other.

Everything is mostly a blur for me, so I don't really recall specifics, but I'll try. Peter Hastings, Tom Ruegger, Kathy Page, Jean MacCurdy, and others were all there, and they started out by asking us to introduce ourselves. Then one of them asked whose idea it was, and fingers pointed to Kim like she was Saddam Hussein on Judgement Day. We then had a small question and answer session, where we learned that episode #70 never existed, the reason for the theme song change, further changes in the theme, Akom getting better at Warner drawing, and other details that I now forget that make me wish I'd either took notes or written this up sooner.

After that, they showed us a few of the new shorts, incuding a really funny self-parody of Yakko's World, the absolutely riotous Super Strong Warner Siblings (I had to wipe my eyes I was laughing so hard!), and then they asked us, perhaps jokingly, if we'd like to see Please, Please, Pleese Get a Life Foundation (note misspelling). Well, we clamored to see it, and they did, with lots of disclaimers and trepidation. They needn't have worried...everyone was howling with laughter. All I can say about the coming flamewars when this episode airs, is that if you are offended by this, you are missing the entire point of Animaniacs.

Anyways, after the videos, they gave us a rather rushed tour of the animation section (there were a lot of us, and there was still lunch to go). Everyone saw different things...I, for example, heard the Hello Nurse song but didn't get to see the storyboard, got a kick out of the life-size mechanical suit that Brain used in Win Big, laughed at the Minnie/Wakko pic, wondered why some of these people got off calling US wierd, after viewing some of the decorations!

Ruegger's office was interesting...there was a huge board with show cards for production/airing schedules on it, that I finally got to see in person (I saw it in a Tiny Toons E! segment).

After that, we drove over to the WB lot. I was kinda disappointed that Ralph wasn't there! Oh, well...

We had a little trouble finding the commissary, but Molly soon guided us straight. Since everyone else mentioned what they had forlunch, I had a delicous(and huge...I couldn't finish it all!) turkey sandwich and a pasta salad. WBA treated us to lunch, which in my opinion was very nice of them. I'll say now that the whole staff was absolutely fantastic the entire time, going way above and beyond what they needed to, and for this I'm eternally grateful.

During lunch, Peter made the rounds among the tables, chatting with us. I asked him if they were prepared or expecting the adult appeal of the show, given the humor in it. He answered that most of the gags tossed in the episodes were the result of one-upmanship contests among the writers, not unlike the way the old WB toons were done. Tom Ruegger had a small mob around his table, asking for autographs!

After lunch, the publicist dragged us across the street to the sound building to make us practice Jay's theme song. We gave it a few lame tries (hey, if we could sing the song really well, they'd have asked US to sing, wait, that's what they did. Never mind), when we heard congratulations coming from behind us. We turned to look, and there was Jess Harnell!!

He sang it a few times with us, and managed to get us so we sounded bad instead of wince-inducing, but mostly told us stories. Like how he was cast as Wakko, and the time he met a rather cynical little kid at Disneyland.

They then dragged us inside, where we saw the orchestra, and Tress MacNeille (who liked my Dot and Babs necklaces). E! interviewed Jess and Tress, then dragged me, Kim, Jay, Karen, and someone else, I can't remember out to be interviewed. I didn't say much...dunno what to say! Though it is my hope, because they made us all stand close together for a mass interview, that even if they don't use anything I said, I'll still be on TV!! I'm the bearded, long haired guy in the red shirt, if yer watching!

After that, we went back into the booth so the orchestra could score a brand new ep. I was standing next to Tress, who was in the only chair, and she was signing autographs and chatting with the people. Jess was on the other side. Finally, Tress turned to me and Kim(who was standing behind me) and made us sit down, so I ended up perched on the arm of Tress's chair for most of the time! I didn't get to talk to her much, sadly, since the sound crew wanted silence for the recording. But I did get a nice message and autograph (which I'm getting framed today!), and once I explained my friend Nefaria to her (hi, Nef!!) a message for him too. She was incredibly wonderful about the whole thing...if I wasn't already as impressed as I could be, this'd be the clincher.

The episode we saw was funny even without dialog! The music was so perfect and hit the right places (duh...that's their job!) that the story was told almost as well with no words.

Once the short was scored, they set it up so that we could watch it complete with dialog and music, though there was a short delay while Richard Stone, the conductor/composer sighned autographs and basked in the adulation. The short was hilarious (I tell ya, if I had any worries about the quality of the new season, I'm not worried any more!!), and Jess Harnell, who hadn't seen that ep complete yet, was rolling around laughing!

After that, they made us go, to the diappointment of everyone, not just us. I managed to get Jess to sign something for me before we left, and said goodbye to him and Tress (who has a STRONG grip, and wouldn't let go of my hand! Not that I minded...she could have dragged me away and tossed me off the Water Tower and I wouldn't have minded!), and waved farewell to the delightful staff who had been so nice to us. We were taken to the WBSS on the lot, where we all did some shopping. They had some really cheap CD's, and I bought spot a Wakko plushie of her very own. Unfortunately, while we were waiting in line to pay for our stuff, some of us got left behind while the others were yanked away for the VIP Lot Tour. Spottie, Andy Diaz, Keeper, and I were stranded! We raced over to the watertower, our assigned meeting place, but no one was there! So we went back to the WBSS and waited, when Bryan finally showed up and we ran down to the tour offices.

Once everyone was together again, we took the tour. It was fun, though blazing hot (I got a nifty near-tan, being half Italian and half Scottish...). Our guide was a riot, but since most of the lot tour stuff has been mentioned, I'll say only that the trek through the jungle was exceeded by someone (Karen??) getting a bullet left over from the filming of a movie on the western set. The quest for drinks was fun too, and the money-eating coke machine was an experience. It also turned out to be Internet Day at Warner Brothers, as we ran into the Lois and Clark net fan group, who had done basically the same thing we did that day.

After the tour we headed back to the hotel to die of dehydration. Kane took a few of us to his place to use the internet, which went on and on and on... Some argument blew up that I had NO idea what was going on, but since that's my normal mode, I didn't care.

The next day was a dead day. We were splintered...some went here, some went there...

I ended up hanging out in Molly's room watching TV with the Tindalls and Kim and few others. Molly's friend Pat Fraley came by for a visit, a voice actor of some accomplishment, and sat watching TV with us, telling stories of his career (very funny ones, too!). Later, I comandeered Rex's portable computer, and Bryan and I spent an hour or so trying to track down the press release. Sadly, we failed.

After a wierd lunch, we all mobbed Molly's room to watch hours and hours of Animaniacs eps. I wondered why we even had the sound on, since the dialogue and songs were coming out of our mouths louder than the volume on the TV could go!

We had a fight over who was getting what on the pizza, and the day ended with a mass photo session, at least for me.

What else that happened that day, I don't recall!

Sunday, after waiting long enough to say goodbye to everyone (and getting a hug from a sleepy Jill, and it's a good thing too, since if she'd been fully awake, I doubt if she would have wanted to come near me!), I headed out.

A few hours down the interstate, near a town appropriatly named Desert Center, one of my tires exploded! The hubcap went flying off, and since I couldn't find it, it still lies somewhere in the Southern California desert. I hiked to a police call box (no, it wasn't a TARDIS!) which fortunately wasn't too far away, and got a tow truch to get me to a nearby town. One there, I lucked out...they had a tire the right size for my car. It cost a hundred bucks, but I was on the road again. I made it to Tuscon, AZ that night, Midland-Odessa, TX the other night, and on Tuesday (after a morning watching Secret of NIMH on HBO) I left Midland-Odessa and made it back home late that night.

And that's my tale. Skip over the boring parts if you like! Bye...