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My wacky Wednesday.

June 9th, 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC
Is there really a connection between a Chevy Camaro and Adventure Time, Craig’s List, or Dove’s real women?

You’d have to have lived through my wacky Wednesday to find out. If there was ever a post here labeled “uncategorized” this one would be it. I spent the day with an incredible group of people in Washington at the The Environmental Protection Agency doing some consulting. When the email first arrived from the good folks at PRR in Seattle I thought there must have been a mistake.

“The EPA is responsible for developing the fuel economy labels that you see posted on any car or truck sold in the U.S.” said the letter. “You are thinking – what does this have to do with you? We are in the process of convening a panel of ten innovators. These individuals represent a cross-section of products, services and campaigns that have significantly impacted our culture, behavior and attitudes. The EPA specifically asked that we look to you Mr. Seibert, for insight as a member of this expert panel.”

How much attention do we pay to this label when we’re buying a car?EPA sticker
PRR had put together a group that was highly unlikely: Erikka Arone (a consultant, formerly of Apple and Microsoft) , Stacie Bright (from Unilever), Matt Burchard (Zappos), Tom Conrad (CTO, Pandora), Dr. Cheryl Healton (CEO, Legacy, who do those amazing The Truth ads), Craig Newmark (customer service rep and self described nerd), Ian Rowe (formerly from MTV). I was honored to be considered in their company.

I’m not going to bore you about what a great day we had; a bunch of interesting people in a room, talking about a subject few of us had any direct contact with professionally. Ultimately, we made a number of suggestions, but who knows how a government agency can absorb recommendations from a bunch of private sector know-it-alls? I’m happy with our conclusions, and I’ll share with you my best ideas for the redesign of the sticker below. So if something like it ever shows up on a new car, remember where you saw it first.

We thought a simpler system was in order. I flashed on the New York subway graphics by Vignelli.
label 2 label 4 label label 3

Vote today! Vote for Change!

November 3rd, 2008

Frederator Postcard Series 6.38

Vote today!

February 5th, 2008

Especially, you Californians!


December 24th, 2007

Peace Sign

New, better, search.

November 29th, 2007


We’re slowly trying to get our technical house in order here (blogs next! I promise) and one of those things is integrating all our various Frankenstein sites. Our search button in the upper right column of the Frederatorblogs page is now a Google search that allow you to search the whole Frederator universe. So, from there, you can find anything from Channel Frederator, RAW, whatever. We’ll add the box to the other sides forthwith.

For your information, the sites searched will be:

The Wubblog (http://wubby.typepad.com)
The Teenage Roblog (www.teenageroblog.blogspot.com)

Try it, you’ll like it.

Not Just Cartoons!

November 14th, 2007

Jerry Beck’s done it again and compiled one of the great books on contemporary animation. Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons is the beautiful brainchild of Nickelodeon Worldwide Creative Director Russell Hicks (one of my great colleagues from Hanna-Barbera Cartoons), and reviews all the cartoon shows Nick’s done since the launch of the Nicktoons in 1991. I’m posting a couple of the pieces on our shorts shows including short interviews with me about them, and I’m gathering up the chapters on ChalkZone, My Life as a Teenage Robot, and The Fairly Oddparents.
Fred Seibert: Don’t worry about introducing characters: worry about making them believable. Don’t worry about some future plot point: worry about making the film exciting. If you make your characters and your stories great, and everything will fall into place. The longest-lived and most beloved cartoons are the ones with the greatest characters, not the greatest plots. I want a character that I’m going to fall in love with. That’s my theory, anyway.

Why a short and not a pilot? Well, from a consumer’s point of view, rarely do I watch a series from the beginning. From a producer’s viewpoint, why do I need to make a film that explains all sorts of things that the consumer will never see? Besides, whether the product is a great short film or a great pilot, all the things wrong with it will be forgotten when it goes to series. But if it’s only, well, okay, and it answers all of the little details, it’ll never be green-lit anyway. Why focus on the things that make it a pilot instead of focusing on what makes it a great film?

My understanding of the Saturday morning cartoon business was that they had stopped developing cartoons in the unique way that the great cartoons of the 1930s and ’40s were developed. What you saw those days was more like half-hour kid sitcoms, and that, in my opinion, was the problem with the animation business. In the days of the theatrical short, a cartoon would be made featuring a character, it would be run in theaters, and if the audience really liked it, more would be made. If not, then that was that.

First I wanted to identify the talent capable of making hit cartoons, then the characters that were capable of moving into series play or feature films. Oh Yeah! Cartoons, in just three years, generated fifty-one cartoons featuring unique, one-of-a-kind characters in a way that hadn’t been done in more than forty years. Again, I took the approach that the great cartoon studios such as Disney,
Warner, and MGM used back in the day, and adapted it to television. What we did was green-light a large number of cartoon shorts that were completely creator-driven. I really looked at them as short films that introduced new characters.

Mark Taylor [VP/GM, Nickelodeon Studios]: That meant 99 cartoons in a very short period of time, each one being its own cartoon, yet needing to be done in a timely manner while following certain guidelines. This was one of the biggest challenges we ever had as a series.

Fred Seibert: To this day I’m amazed that this concept was even sold. I’m shocked when I realize that it happened at all. Oh Yeah! Cartoons requires a heavier investment than usual; you end up spending a good fifty percent more per short than on anything else, and there’s always a lower rating because there’s no continuing character to fall in love with, or any idea what to expect, week after week. That’s a really difficult sell, but we realized that if all we did was launch one successful series, the investment would be well worth it. The angle I took to sell this idea was the premise that we weren’t just launching some successful series; we were finding talent that would be part of our family for a very long time.

Mark Taylor:It was fascinating to see all those different looks, styles, and stories develop within Oh Yeah! Cartoons. Out of that one concept came The Fairly OddParents, Chalk Zone, My Life as a Teenage Robot—all of them winners for Nick.

Entering the Culture.

October 10th, 2007

ricochet 2
Ricochet Rabbit illustrated by Lou Brooks

Occasionally, I post some essays from Hanna-Barbera in the 90s. Everyone at the studio greatly admired what Joe and Bill had accomplished through the decades but strongly felt many of their milestones had gone uncommented beyond the aficionados. I commissioned HB Creative Director Bill Burnett to slightly rectify the situation.


The true test of popularity is when the catch phrase of a cartoon becomes part of the language. “Yabba-dabba-doo” is one good example, but others like Astro’s “Rats rall right Reorge,” and of course, Yogi’s “smarter than the average bear” have become universal as well. (…continues here…)

My week in Hollywood.

September 24th, 2007

Nickelodeon Studios

I’ve been traveling across the country for the 15 years I’ve been in the cartoon business, spending a week on the other coast once a month. Invariably the question comes up about what do I do over there, anyhow? So here’s this last week in a nutshell (a day or two at a time; there’s always a lot going on), leaving out the phone calls, emails, and general tinkering around. Whenever I remembered I took a picture.

Monday, September 17:

JetBlue JFK to Burbank, landing about 2:30 PT. After all the airport and rental car fumfering, I head over to Frederator Studios Hollywood HQ at Nickelodeon Studios in Burbank, about 15
minutes away. (We’ve also got space over at Film Roman/Starz,
right across the street from the airport, but I won’t be getting over there this trip.)

I call Will Baron and Austin Buchanan, two graphic designers in Florida who have a cartoon idea, but no one to call. They’re fans of some of our work through the
years and feel we might be able to help. Not sure that I helped, but maybe some of the guidance might keep them from having a head on collision.

5pm, over to the Graciela Hotel, my Burbank home away from home to check in and have drinks (I only drink tea) with Brian Miller, head of production at Cartoon Network and a former colleague from Hanna-Barbera Cartoons and Nickelodeon. We get together a few times a year and it’s always a joy. Brian’s smart and funny, but not smart enough to come work for Frederator.

Dinner was late, around 9 (midnight in my body’s time) and I got together with an old colleague from Turner Broadcasting to catch up on goings on in cable TV.


Cold Hard Flash logo

Up way early, as usual on the first day of a West Coast trip, call home and catch up on some mail before breakfast with Aaron Simpson, sole proprietor of Cold
Hard Flash
, one of the best
and most popular animation blogs, and a cartoon producer with JibJab and Warner Bros. For a couple of years now we’ve been racking our brains trying to figure out ways to work together,
and today’s meal was no exception. I know we’ll find something.

It’s back to Nickelodeon. I try and poke my head in with some of our colleagues and have a great conversation with Random! Cartoons’ Nick exec Claudia Spinelli, who, unfortunately, I’m not working with at the moment. Butch Hartman, Mark
Taylor, Alison Dexter, Eric Coleman are nowhere to be found. But there are a lot of friendly faces from the last ten years to chat with along the way.

Paul Parducci
Paul Parducci is a writer/director/actor I with back in New York and he comes by every once in a while to fill me in on his web exploits and get a little advice. Right now he’s acting a lot while going to film school, writing his beloved horror movies, and setting himself up to direct some of his scripts.

Howard Green The 2007 Channel Frederator Awards were graced by the presence of John
’s win as Cartoonist of the Year, which wouldn’t
have been possible without The Walt Disney Company’s very kind Howard Green (thanks Rita Street for the intro). It took me eight months to get over to Disney in person to say “Thank you” and wouldn’t you know that Howard would buy me lunch.

Eric Homan

When I got back to my office, in quick succession there was a phone call with Random! (and What A Cartoon!) creator G. Brian Reynolds, the weekly development meeting with Eric Homan and Kevin Kolde, and a feature development meeting with writer/director Doug TenNapel,

Doug TenNapel
who’s writing two pictures to produce with Frederator Films.

Whew! And then we had our last Random! Cartoons shorts screening.

Jerry’s picture reminded me.

April 22nd, 2007

Endpaper from The World of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons

Jerry Beck’s quick snap and reflection on the Hanna-Barbera building facade in Los Angeles reminded me of how great it felt to work in that place and what it meant to me.

When I first started traveling to LA in the late 70s I’d get a chill going past the building, wondering what kind of magic went on behind the concrete screens. Just the name in plain black type up top screamed out to me. Working there in the 90s we worked like hell to make the building special; putting up those giant posters of the classic characters was a great rush. One of the happiest days of my life was when Bill Hanna came into my office (originally his) and exclaimed, “Wow! It really looks like a cartoon studio now!”

The last picture I have of the renovated Hanna-Barbera building, 1994-95.

(Of course, that was before the neighborhood association threatened to sue, not to mention the purists in the building who wanted to keep the original post-office-beige color.)

A vital city needs to keep changing, as does a industry and its architecture, and most studios completely disappear, but props out to Jordan Reichek for all the hard work he did to keep it up. It’ll still be nice to get a sense memory of the place, more than we can say for a lot of other homes of great work in the town.

Cartoon Network’s got a little tour of some of the classic moments inside the studio. And here’s a couple of post-cartoon views of the building before it’s latest, and last, renovation.

For Hanna-Barbera.

April 18th, 2007


Our great friend Rita Street of Radar Cartoons founded Women in Animation when she was the publisher/editor of Animation Magazine and I was at Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. In fact, it was so important to me that our industry support the influx of new talent from all quarters, I think HB became one of the earliest supporters of the new organization.

So I was more than thrilled when Rita asked Frederator Studios to support WIA’s look back at the Hanna-Barbera studio tomorrow night. She also asked for a few words about the studio from me:

“From 1992 until 1997, I was honored to have every baby boomer’s dream job as the final president of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. Every day I drove onto the lot on Cahuenga Boulevard and walked through the halls I was happily overwhelmed by the sense of history in the walls. And each and every person in the studio felt the same way, whether they’d been around four weeks or four decades. As I travel around the world, my job at H&B elicits more recogition and smiles than anything else I could mention.

“And why not? From the memorable characters and stories to the distinctive graphic design, the culural legacies Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera created with their loyal teams of thousands will live inside people of the world for lifetimes to come.

“I’m honored to have played a small, final role in that heritage. And I’m glad you could all gather around to honor all those studio members and their talents and hard work.”