As a footnote or a header to the journal below -- I called some of the professional staff at WBA and elsewhere by first name basis. This is not due out of lack of respect, but lack of space and time. I really appreciate all the effort they went to to make the trip as enjoyable as it was -- so on with the show...
OK, I'm slow in getting this out from the Tindall's caravan; but I just got home this Monday (08/21/95) -- so I'm a little late. But, this report will include my whole trilogy. Though I won't bore you with every tiny little detail (just most of them).
My departure for Air Canada to San Francisco where Karen and her mom would be picking me up was on August 9th (Wed). I got up at 5:00 and got ready and arrived at the airport with time to spare. It took about an hour to arrive in Toronto (my layover) and it was there that I proceeded through the wonderful world of customs:) It was a simple task to go through -- but, I made a major mistake when it came to checking my luggage through. I thought I heard this security officer with a heavily-laden French accent say "Put all your personal belongings on the belt (to go through the X-ray machine)" -- so I put down my carry-on case and purse. I did this thinking that I would pick it up on the other side. There was no other side -- I almost freaked -- but, stupidly I reasoned that if the luggage was all together - it would be put on the plane. Only once off the ground did I realize that I had no name tags on it. So I was sitting on the plane, trying to calm down while several people kept leaping up, leaning over seats chatting, running up and down the aisle, lining up for the bath- room, etc. The stewardress was quite terse when she told everyone over the sound system to sit down and fasten their seatbelts (in other words, "Sit down and shut up!") Besides, I couldn't see the in-flight movie with Hugh Grant (in pre-controversy days). And, yes, they played a Bugs Bunny short before the movie, in fact, I believe they had a Sylvester and Tweety one too. I kept wishing it was A! -- but of course! Finally, I arrived, met Karen and her mom, Linda and had to page my bags to be sent to the airport -- they did, and I picked it up in the morning before we headed down to L.A.
Karen showed me her A! and Rob shrine in her room. Mine is even more clustered, -- but, I'm a packrat. She had a wonderful storyboard from "I'm Cute" on her wall.
Finally, the day arrived to travel down to L.A. We loaded up Linda's red Jeep Cherokee with a cooler full of drinks and a bag with chips and our much maligned trail mix (which was maligned by the a.t.a who arrived later:) Karen taped some of her A! CDS on cassette and we sang quite a bit over and over again on the trip down the hot, dusty freeways. Linda sang along -- don't worry. She loves The Great White Hunk, Mel Gibson, and kept telling Karen she wanted to play her Indian Foot Music -- Karen kept giving her dirty looks at this. Eventually, we arrived at the rest stop in Lebec -- at first we went to one side to wait -- only to see no one who looked particularly insaney. So we reasoned that the a.t.a group would probably be coming from the other way -- so we tried to wait at the rest area on the other side. After an hour -- we gave up and decided to see if everyone was at the WB lot already. We went into L.A. and to the lot. I died when I finally saw the watertower -- I knew then that I had officially arrived. We went inside the WB Tours office and asked about Brendan and crew. They told us that they had double-booked us and that the tour would happen the next day. I kept wondering if the a.t.a was out at the Animation Studios without us -- but, a call to Brendan's answering machine relieved us slightly -- but, we still wondered.
Then, we went to the Van Nuys/Sepulveda Travel Lodge -- Brendan and crew had checked in, but the clerk would not let us up to our rooms without his permission. Finally, Linda was tired and as hot as we were, and we just checked into our own room and waited. About halfway through the afternoon, we had a fateful knock on our door and about 10-15 people streamed into our room with Kane with video camera going. I felt like I was on Candid Camera, and sat back to watch the fun. Yes, I am normally that quiet (it's the Canadian thing). Everyone stepped forward to make introductions and finally, we got our original rooms (especially when the air conditioning was ten times better).
We then went off to the Glendale Galleria to visit the Warner Brothers Studio Store -- I was somewhat awed by the displays around the store and inside (see, I've never been in a Studio Store before -- Disney doesn't count:) I milled around looking for Animaniacs stuff -- there wasn't as much as I expected to find. I went strolling in the Gallery and admired some of the cels they had. I didn't buy anything -- I was trying to act like I wasn't broke (I was -- for the bank didn't cash the receipt the airport made out from my lost purse). We also converged on hapless store clerks at a Disney store, put plushies in crude and unusual positions and I think they promptly booted us out:) Afterwards, we went out to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant in L.A. -- I think Brendan seemed lost (poor Brendan, it was a recurring thing), but we made it. We lost Molly and crew who parked on a different floor. Bryan showed around his Japan pictures and Kane ate every mushroom in sight, even those buried under lots of chow mein noodles -- he went clear across the other end of the table for some of those leftover by Brendan and group. It was funny. Oh, and I forgot to add - Kane and Karen had a very rightheous burping fest on the way to the restaurant. (Karen and Linda's hidden talent:) We went back to the hotel to crash afterwards, despite Kane's nice invite to IRC at his place. I didn't sleep too much due to nervous- ness about the following day. As an interesting and funny side note, Karen did Wakko's Randy Beaman routine to a poor sap that made the mistake of getting on the elevator with Karen, me and Linda at the hotel. I've never quite seen anyone leave an elevator so fast:)
Next day was the big day -- we got up early and traversed across L.A. in hot pursuit of Brendan's car down the freeway until the turnoff to go up Ventura Boulevard. We stopped outside of the studio office -- on the Porky Pig floor and took the elevators up. Once inside, I realized the place was actually a mall -- which I thought was odd. We then took the escalator up to the executive suites upstairs and into the Animation Division. There was a big circular desk with a receptionist manning the phones, we milled about waiting for our guides -- we saw a staircase with chisled Yakko, Wakko, Dot, Plucky, Babs, and Buster characters in glass. And pretty much marvelled that we were HERE! Some cleaned out the business cards, and the receptionist gave us nervous looks. Finally, as we hung around one of the main offices, Peter Hastings walked up, introduced him- self and said we could go in in just a few minutes. I couldn't believe that was Peter -- he looked nothing like he did in "Yes, Always" -- much younger. Minutes later, we were ushered into a huge room with a large grey and black marble table the shape of the WB shield and about 20 chairs (exactly) around the perimeter for us. We sat there like big wigs, smiling like frightened children. Everyone introduced themselves one by one as they entered the room. Tom Ruegger, Jean MacCurdy, Kathryn Page, Bobbie Page, Tom Minton, Paul Rugg, Paul Dini, Audu Paden, and Andrea Romano, among other wonderful people. We were amazed that they really wanted to meet us. Then, we introduced ourselves -- and where we were from. They asked who came from the farthest? Everyone pointed in my general direct- ion. Then, they asked, who's idea the whole thing was? Again, fingers pointed to my vicinity. I felt like - "Oh boy, if we demolish the studios -- guess who will be to blame!":) We asked several key questions that everyone was dying to ask -- and of course, they have been recorded in journals by Jay, Keeper and others -- so I won't say anything more here. Except to say, I asked about the Marx Brothers influence on the Warners creation and they explained about the dance in Yakko's World being from "Going Bananas(?)". Then, they decided to show us some of their cartoons fresh from overseas -- we saw the hilarious parody of MMPR called "Super Strong Warner Siblings", and the parody of YAKKO'S WORLD -- "The Dictionary Song (?)", and of course, with their nerves steeled -- they offered us "Please, Please, Please Get a Life Foundation" -- which we were the inspiration. They had no reason to fear -- we adored it. I still am awaiting the fall-out for the unintiated in the group when it shows in the new season:) They then took us on a tour of the animation department. We did the Wakko/Scratchy routine from "Ups and Downs" for all present in the elevator on the way down -- I think Karen initiated that once more:) Oh, and Tom Ruegger very generously gave us terrific signed pictures of Skippy which he had autographed from his boys: Luke, Cody and Nathan. Each picture of Skippy was different:) Really, really cute!
The studios were cubicles were many artists were busily at work, we only got to peak in on a few, but some of the group dispersed (to Peter's and Cathy, our PR person's chagrin) and everyone saw different things. We also got to look at Peter's, Tom's, and Jean's offices. Really wonder- ful with plenty of A! stuff and episode arrangements all over the wall. When Keeper started quoting taglines, Tom stood in front of the board and refused to let us read anymore:) To tell you the truth, I think they were relieved to get us aboard the next elevator down to the parking lot to go to the main studios -- I bet they were exhausted the next day when we left:)
So, it was off to the studios with us. We put our little papers with ANIMANIA IV TOUR listed on our dashes and we dashed off to the main WB lot on Olive once more. We all were guided by the security guard (not named Ralph -- damn!) to the top of the parking lot in the studio backyard. After getting together, we had our well-knowledged Snapple Goddess, Molly Gore guide us to the commissary where we were met up by Cathy, Jean, Peter, and Tom once again. They told us lunch was on them - which I thought was terrific. I had (for those who are dying of curiousity) a Cappachino Haagen Daas ice cream bar and a tall orange soda. I was more hot than hungry and actually asked Jean where the bathrooms were:*) Peter came to our table and asked some basic questions and we fielded him some. He then signed our stuff we had with us and then, everyone converged on Tom Ruegger and Mitch Schauer (from Freakazoid!) who signed some of our other stuff:)
After lunch was over, we filed out and went to the sound stage. Our big moment in the spotlight had arrived! We were practicing outside with our new revised version of our song -- and practicing and practicing -- people must have been wondering who the heck we were. I heard another person from the a.t.a mention in their journal that Maurice LaMarche passed behind us. Just great guys!! The only other Canadian probably on the whole lot and no one told me!! I'd still love to meet Maurice (are you out there Mo??:) We probably scared him off, he probably thought if he ran fast enough by our group that no one would notice:) After a few minutes of practice, we received heartfelt praise from in front of us. Everyone sang, "JESS!" and I looked up and there he was. He was every bit the same guy I'd seen in pictures of him from other tour dates. He was overwhelmed by all of us and we tried to get auto- graphs, but Cathy reprimanded us -- saying we needed to KNOW the song. So, he said he was in trouble with the teacher and that he would sing through with us. He did -- and said that the girls should sing together and the boys sing together. It wasn't too long before we started filing into the WB Sound Stage. There we saw a back room with a large, electron- ic system board and wires were everywhere. We then, went into the sound booth in behind the orchestra. It was a small room with two sofas, a large special TV and a big control board looming over above us from behind where the sound engineer would sit. The orchestra was a small group of 30, but with Richard Stone standing on a podium in front, booms and lights everywhere and the size of the stage itself was amazing. Everyone went by the windows and watched the orchestra practicing. Tress MacNeille then showed up from behind one of the doors out on the stage and went to greet Jess and crew. She had smiles for everyone. We had a chance to meet her when Cathy asked for 5 of our group who came from the furthest away. She picked me, Jay, Molly, Kevin, and Karen (probably because she was the youngest and because spot refused to do it). We went in front and met with Jess and Tress and made introductions under the blaring lights. Then, they interviewed us in front of a small, black velvet table with cameras on our startled faces. For the record, I'm behind Molly in the middle, with the glasses, short reddish hair and the Trusted Leaders shirt. Jay and Molly did most of the talking:) Thank goodness! Then, it came time to sing. Everyone else came out and they tried to arrange us with our backs to the orchestra. We sang somewhat pitifully, but as loud in our pitiful voices as we could. The orchestra drowned us out somewhat - thank goodness, again:) And, then, we went back to the booth after we got it in one shot - ehhh, professionalism! I sat next to Tress who asked, "Oh, you've come all the way from Canada, huh? (Not literal quote)" And I said, "Yeah, so I guess that makes me the craziest!" She laughed at this and signed some stuff, I sat behind her and then, went over to kneel next to Jess who was signing on the other side. All the while the orchestra was scoring for "Bingo (?)" an upcoming episode with Wakko & Scratchy. Very funny. They did several run throughs and they needed us to be absolutely quiet while they taped. Tom Ruegger and Paul Rugg and crew were sitting laughing their heads off -- talking to Keeper(?) Jess sat next to Jay on the floor right at my feet and watched the dialogue be put to "Bingo" -- he was laughing along with us as we watched. Then, that was it...we milled out and had a large group photo taken outside with all the staff and crew. (I hope to get a picture of this). We also signed a group souvenir for the Ruegger kids before leaving the stage, I shook Tom's hand and thanked profusely for everything. Andy Diaz's shirt had everyone laughing with "I'm Not Responsible For Any Of This" by Tom Ruegger and spot's mystery shirt with "Wakko + Spot" in a heart on the back of her shirt. Jess told us not to tell her what it said:)
After this, we went over to the small studio store and looked at CD's and paraphenalia - then, we started the VIP tour after a short movie about the studios. The bloopers had Jay rolling -- especially the one with Ronald Reagan and his fly (ask him:) The tour guy was terrific, showing us many of the Western lots and Jungle sets which were about to be tore down. We almost got in on the "Friends" set -- but, they wouldn't let us on. We got to visit the "Lois & Clark", we also walked by Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher with enormous grins. We wandered over to where they were filming "The Client" -- a new show with John Heard (one of my favorite actors) and JoBeth Williams. Really cool!! But, we were dehydrated and they made us run from the commissary -- the guide saying something like "Run far, run fast!!" -- geez, that close to being kicked off the lot!! We fought with a Coke machine and won and then, departed.
The next day we converged on Molly's room in the morning to watch "The Mask" -- Rob fans, you know:) It wasn't bad. Then, Pat Fraley showed up and we all listened enthralled to his stories about voice work he's done. We had plenty of questions -- it was a pleasure to meet him. And, oh, I said HI! for Andrea Paulinski:)
Later that evening, we had our video marathon -- after Karen, me and Linda got back from another trip to the mall and WBBS in Pasadena (?) I bought stuff, finally! I had my money cashed at a check cashing place and I bought a cap, shirt, and other fun stuff. We bought about 5-6 shirts each at Artisitic Impressions and actually, when I returned wearing them -- Kane, the 44 shirt fella was amazed at ours!! How about that! We sat around watching favorite episodes, singing every song, while Rex and Molly chronicled our exploits on the laptops they brought. Jay broke into a big debate on panning in "Little Drummer Warners" and Kane drove everyone nearly batty with his video camera. Brendan even got up to dance the Rasputin dance from "Nothing But The Tooth" and we had a blast feasting on pizza (not me) and watching 8 hours straight. A guy in the hall the next morning said, "Oh, are you those Animaniacs people?" It was funny -- we were pretty rowdy:)
After that, we said our collective goodbyes and promised to write via Internet and IRC. It was the most fun I ever had and an experience I'm glad that I didn't miss.
I want to thank everyone profusely for the warm manner in which we were treated by WBA and everyone who was there to meet us. You made a wonderful impression on us and for that we will be forever grateful. I only hope that if you need any ideas -- feel free to contact us. Thanks so much for a fabulous time!!!!! FABOO!!
(The rest of my exploits I will post on the a.t.a directly - Thanks ALL!!!)
-- Kim "Yakko's Babe" Robarts --