Original Cartoons since 1998.


Fred Seibert's Blog

Archive for the ‘Actors’

Get the f*** out of the way.

November 21st, 2010

Three Little Bops” directed by Friz Freleng, jazz score by Shorty Rogers

Jazz musicians taught me how to produce funny cartoons. Seriously.

There are a lot of parallels between cartoons and jazz. They’re both distinctively American art forms, incubated towards the beginning of the 20th century, hitting their first artistic and popular peaks towards the end of the 1930s. And they’re both a lot of fun.

For me, it’s is a lot more personal. My life in jazz uniquely prepared me for the thrills of being involved in cartoons.

My producing career began by making jazz records –it was supposed to be a stepping stone to pop music– which usually prompts quizzical stares from the folks who know I’m now in cartoons. But, spending every weekend of the last three years watching my older son play his clarinet and tenor in the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra (my longest extended live jazz exposure in 35 years) I’ve had a lot of time to consider why these two experiences have been hand in glove for me.

It probably comes down to my ignorance and fandom. As an 18 year old in New York, I recorded my first jazz session after six years listening and playing pop music of the 60s and (barely) six weeks of jazz listening. The first release from one of my recordings was made six months later. It’s fair to say that for the next decade, every record I participated in was done with world class musicians at least 10 (sometimes 20 or 30) years older than me and who had forgotten more than I would ever know. I mean, what could a white suburban kid in his mid-20’s going to tell world class musicians about making their music? Ultimately, it became my job to figure out who I wanted to lead a session, who would record it, and get the f*** out of the way. When I was wrong, the records were just OK (when one is working with the world class, it never was less than OK). But when the magic was there…

More than two decades on, cartoons (and California) beckoned, and a similar dynamic played itself out. A huge fan as a kid (who wasn’t?) all I had to go on were the emotions the best films had stirred in me. There were no skills or talents in me to speak of. 15 years in television had me making hundreds, thousands, of commercials –many animated– but it wasn’t like I could draw or write (still can’t), I’d no idea how to put together a schedule or budget, no real ability to “produce” fiction films. I fell back on something Rudy Van Gelder, the world’s most important jazz recording engineer, had taught me at our first session in 1976. “Your job is to figure out what you want to hear, and find the people who are good enough to accomplish it.” To the point, I wanted to make cartoons, as opposed to animation, let’s make people laugh. If you want to too, let’s try it together.

So, instead of trying to learn skills I would never master, my concentration immediately turned to “Who wants to make cartoons?” In retrospect, my role is exactly the same as with the jazz musicians. Identify world class talent, new and veterans alike, and once again, get the f*** out of the way. If the creator needs help, give it him/her. If he/she needs “protection” from useless, uneducated, executive opinions, give it. (And if the creator is ignoring good advice from the network –hey, it happens– try and help there too.)

Jazz or cartoons, for me it comes down to the same stuff. Find talented people who are worth supporting, and get the f*** out of the way.

Isaac Hayes?

March 18th, 2009

Fred & Isaac Hayes (!)
Issac Hayes, on the set of “Me Music. It’s Mine.” New York City, 2000
Sonicnet.com [logo]

When stars are involved in projects we’re producing I usually stay far away.

Except in 1978 when I was working in Los Angeles radio and Marvin Gaye came by to promote his latest release. And in 2000, when I was running MTV Networks Online group, which included Sonicnet.com, we were doing an advertising campaign created by my brilliant mentor, Dale Pon. “Me Music. It’s Mine,” directed by a true star, Tim Newman, featured dozens of amazing musical artists improvising on the famous vocalist’s warm up “Me Me Me Meeeeee.” How could I not want to fist bump one of the great American singer/songwriters Isaac Hayes? (Yes, he really did have a superstar career before South Park.)

(As soon as I locate a tape, I’ll post some of the spots. …:::Update: here they are:::…)

Thanks Dave.

June 30th, 2008

Dave Levy, the talented director, author, and President of ASIFA-East, gave The Meth Minute 39 a great send-off, screening, and Q&A, the other night here in New York. He wrote about it kindly today on his blog, and we’ve got a few pictures from the screening here. We were all thrilled that so many of the cast and crew could make it over and see themselves on the big screen. Thanks Dave, thanks ASIFA-East, thanks everyone.


Jentle Phoenix.

May 31st, 2006


Right around the time we started up Frederator and Oh Yeah! Cartoons my childhood bud from Long Island Jeff Eberhardt (we met when we were three and we were great friends past college) called and asked would I meet with his daughter? Jen had just moved to Hollywood and wanted to get started as an actress and maybe do some voice overs. I don’t think I was much help, though later on I tried to hook her up with Steve Marmel’s stand-up web community, but I remember telling Jeff I thought she had the drive to go the distance.

Fast forward nine years and I didn’t pay enough attention to Jun Falkenstein’s post about her very cool Kyle & Rosemary cast. Or I just didn’t put 2+2 together (What do you want? I’m the doofus producer. Or else I’m just too old.) Because Jeff’s daughter is Jentle Phoenix, the voice of Gothy Rosemary.

Congratulations to all of us. The world’s a small place. I love it when this kind of thing happens.

Joe Bevilacqua. Oh Yeah!

August 17th, 2005


Joe Bevilacqua is the creator and producer of The Comedy-O-Rama Hour (on XM Satellite Radio and Public Radio). He created Willaby & the Professor in homage to his love of Hanna-Barbera cartoons. (Joe went on to study voice acting with Daws Butler,

and last year wrote the definitive Daws biography.)

Thanks to Joe for his kind permission to post some of his storyboard pitch to Oh Yeah! Cartoons.